The Health Benefits of Anasazi Beans Feature Image

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Introduction

Anasazi beans are a type of bean with a slightly different appearance due to their cream-colored specks.

The word Anasazi was actually known by native Americans as “the ancient ones”. The bean was first produced in New Mexico many millenniums ago but are now used mainly in Latin American and Southwestern cooking.

Compared to other beans, the anasazi bean tends to have a milder and sweeter taste. It is predominantly used in many refried and baked bean recipes.

Anasazi beans have many health benefits due to their high amount of micronutrients, fiber, and protein.

However, there lectin content (type of protein in plants) is also linked to health benefits such as anti-tumor, immunomodulatory, antifungal, antibacterial abilities.

1. Anasazi Beans Have A Great Nutrition Profile

Anasazi beans, much like most types of beans, contain a large amount of vitamins and minerals that can contribute significantly to daily recommended intakes.

100 grams of cooked Anasazi beans contains:

  • Protein: 8.7 grams
  • Fiber: 6.4 grams
  • Vitamin K: 10% of the recommended daily amount
  • Thiamine: 11% of the recommended daily amount
  • Folate: 33% of the recommended daily amount
  • Iron: 12% of the recommended daily amount
  • Magnesium: 10% of the recommended daily amount
  • Phosphorus: 14% of the recommended daily amount
  • Potassium: 12% of the recommended daily amount
  • Manganese: 22% of the recommended daily amount

In addition to these nutrients, beans are also rich in a variety of phytochemicals, antioxidants, and contain an extensive array of flavonoids such as phenolic acids and isoflavones.

2. Anasazi Beans May Improve Gut Health

Anasazi beans may be able to benefit gut health because they contain a high amount of dietary fiber – a non-digestible carbohydrate found in plant foods.

Recent years have clarified just how important dietary fibers if for maintaining gut health. Fiber is able to feed the “good” bacteria in the intestine and encourage their survival and growth, (functioning as a prebiotic) [1].

This improvement in gut bacteria from consuming dietary fiber has shown to have various positive effects on health such as weight management, blood sugar control, immune function and cognitive performance [2].

Increasing the amount of “good” bacteria in the gut also has a knock-on effect for producing beneficial nutrients for the body, including short-chain fatty acids like acetate, propionate and butyrate.

These short-chain fatty acids can feed the cells in the large intestine and reduce the amount of inflammation in the gut, as well as improve gut disorders including irritable bowel syndrome, crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis [3].

The lectins within Anasazi beans may also offer their own unique benefits for the gut.

Lectons have the ability to recognize and modulate a variety of important cellular processes [4] and bind to cells on the lining of the small and large intestine [5]. This interaction can last for several hours and has shown to significantly slow down the digestion of food and reduce the inflammatory response of a meal [6].

3. Anasazi Beans May Fight Cancer

Lectins have an ability to target and act upon cancer cells by recognizing the presence of tumor glycosylations [7].

Specifically, lectins may initiate antitumor and cytotoxic effects in cancer cells through the induction of apoptosis (controlled cell death) and autophagy (removal of dysfunctional cell components) [8].

Based on lab studies, the initiation of apoptosis from lectins has shown a dose-dependent effect [9] [10] [11].

In addition, lectins are thought to have a specific role in the prevention of colon cancer by interacting with various colon cells and reducing inflammation [12] [13].

Case studies also confirm that extracts of anasazi beans have effectively contributed towards the death of leukemic cells in the blood of 3 leukaemia patients [14].

4. Anasazi Beans May Prevent and Treat Diabetes

The high amount of fiber in Anasazi beans can prevent and treat diabetes by preventing any large spikes in blood sugar levels from carbohydrate intake, and thus reducing inflammatory responses that could damage beta cells – responsible for producing insulin and removing glucose from the blood.

Evidence suggests that dietary fibers ability to rebalance the gut microbiota in the gastrointestinal tract that help digest food by improving insulin sensitivity and blood glucose control [15].

The lectin content within anasazi beans is also a natural glucose-binder that is excellent for blood sugar management [16].

5. Anasazi Beans Contain Less Antinutrients than Other Beans

Antinutrients are plant compounds that reduce the body’s ability to absorb essential nutrients.

Anasazi beans have much lower levels of some antinutrients such as phytates and tannins compared to other types of beans.

Phytates are able to reduce the absorption of minerals contained within a food, or meal, especially in regard to iron, zinc, magnesium and calcium [17].

Less is known about tannins – a class of antioxidant polyphenols – although they also seem to significantly impact upon iron absorption [18].

This being said, soaking and boiling any type of bean before consumption can at least partly reduce the activity of antinutrients in the body.

More research is needed to assess the benefits of anasazi beans, and its antinutrient profile, in improving health markers such as iron and calcium status, which may prevent diseases such as anaemia and osteoporosis.

Conclusion

The anasazi bean is a type of bean with cream-colored specks, and has a slightly milder and sweeter taste compared to other beans.

Anasazi beans are high in protein, fiber, and a wide range of vitamins and minerals that can help to reach daily recommended amounts.

Due to these nutrients, the anasazi bean may improve gut health, fight cancer, and prevent diabetes.

Shaun Ward MSc BSc SENr Anutr
Shaun Ward MSc BSc SENr Anutr
Staff Writer & Fact Checker at DietProbe
Shaun is a registered nutritionist, and sport and exercise nutritionist, with experience in coaching professional endurance and strength athletes.
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This article has been reviewed and fact-checked by a certified nutritionist, and only uses information from credible academic sources.