Winged bean is an elongated square-shaped tropical legume plant native to New Guinea. With the binomial name of Psophocarpus tetragonolobus, Goa beans, four-angled beans, Manila beans, and Mauritius beans are just some examples of various names referred to this health-packed plant. Winged beans thrive in tropical, hot, and humid climates of Southeast Asia and can be found cultivated in countries, other than New Guinea, such as Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, and the Philippines. Indeed, this delicious vegetable is commonly used in Southeast Asian cuisine. Filipinos, in particular, has developed a taste for winged beans, or commonly referred to in Filipino recipes as sigarilyas. Winged beans are often sautéed or used as a healthy balancing ingredient in sinigang.
Every part of the winged bean vegetable is edible and can come with its own set of health benefits. Consumption of winged beans, be it its flowers, steam, tubers, leaves, etc. offers great nutritious value. The immature pods of winged beans are one of the few vegetables that are very low in calories while fresh young winged beans pods are a great source of folates for cell division and DNA synthesis. The leaves of the winged beans alone are packed full of nutrients such as vitamin C, vitamin A, fibers, and minerals. Meanwhile, its tubers provide a great source of starch, protein, and B-complex vitamins.
This multi-purpose plant gives a multitude of health benefits if added to your regular diet. Along with its many medicinal uses like staving off asthma, improving the immune system, and preventing diabetes, winged beans can also be consumed for its beauty benefits as well. That’s right! Winged beans are shown to improve the skin’s elasticity and prevent premature skin aging, actively preserving one’s youthful looks.
Here is a more detailed list of the winged bean’s health benefits:
1. Winged Beans help prevent premature aging
Winged beans are packed with vitamins that keep the skin healthy such as vitamin C and vitamin A. These vitamins work as antioxidants that protect the skin from free radicals thus preventing the skin from acquiring wrinkles, blemishes, fine lines, and age spots. The same components that prevent the skin from aging prematurely are also shown to help prevent damage to muscles and internal organs from free radicals. This brings both internal and external health benefits to the body.
Additionally, the vitamin C supplies collagen to the skin, and along with the antioxidants, helps in maintaining and improving the skin’s elasticity preventing loose and saggy skin.
2. Winged beans improve immunity.
Winged beans are rich with nutrients and minerals that are highly beneficial for the immune system. As previously mentioned, winged beans are a rich source of vitamin C and vitamin A, these vitamins help improve the immune system, making you less likely to acquire infections, illnesses, and diseases. Winged beans also contain high contents of zinc that also helps further boosts the body’s immune system. If consumed long term, zinc strengthens the body to become less susceptible against the common cold.
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3. Winged beans help with a healthy pregnancy.
Winged beans contain high amounts of folates that highly improve fertility and improves health during pregnancy. Pregnant women can get their folate along with B-12 through eating winged beans to help with DNA synthesis and cell division. Consuming enough folates also helps prevent neural tube defects in newborn babies.
Furthermore, winged beans provide healthy amounts of iron content for pregnant women to consume to help them reduce the risk of acquiring maternal anemia during the pregnancy and also prevent low birth weight for the baby.
4. Winged beans help manage asthma.
The high content of magnesium in winged beans makes it an ideal food for people with chronic asthma to manage their breathing. Winged beans contain 326 mg of magnesium which around 77% of the required daily dose for those who have asthma. Magnesium helps in normalizing the breathing of people with asthma through the relaxation of the bronchial muscles. Because of this high content of magnesium in winged beans, this vegetable is ideal in medicinal use to help with breathlessness and regulation of breathing, especially helpful for people with asthma.
5. Winged beans can help prevent diabetes.
Winged beans are rich with two vital nutrients that help to prevent diabetes, calcium, and vitamin D. Research has shown that a combination of calcium and vitamin D can prevent the onset of diabetes. This combination of the two nutrients is shown to lower the body’s blood sugar levels because they can boost glucose metabolism and insulin secretion. This is possible because both calcium and vitamin D can affect the pancreatic cells that are responsible for insulin secretion. Consuming winged beans will help balance the blood sugar levels in the body, ideal for people struggling with diabetes.
6. Winged beans help with reducing inflammation.
Winged beans are a beneficial legume to eat when one wants to reduce inflammation or spraining in the body. Wing beans contain a considerable amount of manganese which has antioxidant properties that help in the reduction of swelling and inflammation.
This is especially valuable to people with arthritis. One of the factors that cause arthritis is the deficiency of superoxide dismutase (SOD) in the body. SOD contains anti-inflammatory properties that arthritis patients lack. The manganese in winged beans helps reduce the symptoms in arthritis because it can increase the production and improve the functioning of SOD in the body.
7. Winged beans help to prevent eye problems
Daily consumption of winged beans is said to prevent the onset of eye problems like glaucoma and cataracts according to research. This is because winged beans are rich with the vitamin B1, otherwise known as thiamine, containing 1.875 mg of thiamine. Consuming winged beans daily will improve vision and protect and strengthens the eyes against diseases. This is because thiamine causes improvement to the muscles and nerves signaling. This connects the eyes to the brain and helps the eyes send information directly to the brain.
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