Winged bean is one of the underutilized tropical leguminous foods, often referred to as poor man’s food. The leaves, flowers, roots, and pods of this amazing plant can be eaten raw or cooked. It is also known by several other names such as, asparagus pea, goa bean, four-winged bean, and scientifically as Psophocarpus tetragonolobus or Lotus tetragonolobus.
Winged bean is a domestic plant that is distributed in African counties and Asia, especially in the countries between India and Papua New Guinea. Winged bean possess a lime green color. It is long and square in shape with feathery, wing-like accent running from the tips to the end like an arrow.
Health benefits of winged
Aside been eaten as food, winged bean is also used in traditional medicines for so many health diseases. Both the roots a d area parts have been utilized in folk medicines to treat certain ailments.
Winged bean boost immunity
Being a rich source of vitamin C, and vitamin A, and also rich in Zinc, Calcium, and Phosphorus, a regular consumption of winged bean will boost your immune system, defend your body against invading organisms. Vitamin C is also involved in wound healing, while Zinc regulates the immune system and suppresses the multiplication of microorganisms.
Provides support to pregnant women
Aside Vitamins A and C, winged bean is also rich in folate. Folate has been shown to help pregnant women, especially the fetus. It helps in neural tube formation, and also prevents several birth defects associated with the baby’s brain.
Also, the legume is a rich source of iron. Iron is essential for the production of hemoglobin and for the transportation of oxygen to every parts of the body. It also prevents maternal anemia and low birth weight.
The Calcium and Phosphorus present in winged been also helps in bone formation, especially in developing strong bones and prevention of the formation of rickets due to deficiency of calcium in the maternal body
Winged bean may improve eyesight
Being a rich source of vitamin A, winged bean may help in maintening good vision. Most people suffer night blindness due to vitamin A deficiency. This may also be the reason why there are increasing numbers of people with eye defects.
If you make winged beans a regular part of your food preparation, or include it in your menu, you would hardly suffer some of the prevailing eye defects such as glaucoma and cataract. The vitamins and coenzyme, thiamine has the ability to eye muscle cells and nerves, which are essential for correcting some eyes defects.
Enhances weight loss
Winged bean is a sure diet if you want to lose weight and maintain your shape. It has a low calory content and is also rich in fiber. The high fiber content makes one feel full and suppresses appetite, thereby increasing the time interval between each meal, and reducing the chances of snacking. This way, winged bean helps you to reduce your weight and also helps you to maintain your weight.
Winged bean is an anti-aging agent
The legume is so rich in antioxidants. These antioxidants protect your skin and prevent the attack and damage of free radicals on your body cells. By protecting the body from the damaging effects of free radicals, winged bean slows down aging and maintains the skin cellular integrity.
Also, the vitamins A and C present in the legume prevents premature aging of the skin, and also protects the skin from wrinkles, blemishes and other age-related skin damages. It also restores skin firmness and promotes skin tone.
Improves bone health
Winged bean is a rich source of calcium, which is extremely good for the bones. When you consume the legume on a regular basis, it helps to improve the bone health. This in turn reduces the risk of developing osteoporosis in the future. Calcium content in it is equally beneficial for the teeth and nail health as well. It is also very good for infants, as it prevents the formation of a bow leg.
Asparagus pea prevents DNA damage
The abundance of vitamins A and C, and the vitamin B complexes in Winged Bean is essentially good for the body. Being an antioxidant, they protect your body from DNA damages caused by harmful reactive oxygen species. Winged bean also reduces oxidative stress and removes the harmful elements from the body.
Winged bean possess anti-inflammatory compounds
There are huge amount of manganese in Winged Beans, which help in reducing inflammation. The antioxidant property which is also possessed by the mineral works in relieving sprains or swellings. This is beneficial for individuals suffering from arthritis, as it helps in treating the superoxide dismutase deficiency, the factor causing the condition.
Winged bean helps in relieving headache
The legume is rich in Tryptophan, which is known to reduce pain, headache, and migraine related to stress and tension. A regular consumption of Winged Beans can greatly reduce or totally prevent headaches and migraine. Tryptophan present in winged bean also help in the increased synthesis of serotonin, which in turn suppresses the body pain, headache or migraine, and also the associated symptoms such as indigestion, and sensitivity to light.
May offer relief to Asthmatic condition
Magnesium also helps in normalizing the breathing by relaxing the bronchial muscles. This makes winged bean an excellent vegetable food for asthmatic patients. Magnesium also helps asthmatic patients by regulating their breath. Winged beans may also help in normalizing the breath of normal people suffering nasal congestion. If you are suffering asthmatic condition, you may also drink lemon verbena tea alongside winged beans for synergistic effect.
Winged bean is a rich source of protein
Like other legumes, winged bean is a very good source of protein. It also can revive severe kwashiorkor disease. The legume is also fortified with several essential and non-essential amino acids, which you body requires to make polypeptides and proteins for structural and cellular functions.
Just as the legume is usually described as the poor man’s food, it supplies to the consumer every needed essential amino acids, and involve in the synthesis of proteins.
May improve diabetic conditions
The legume has been used in traditional medicines for treating diabetes mellitus. Although this may not be taken as a curative measure alone, it may work synergistically with diabetes drugs to gain improved healing rate.
The anti-diabetic properties of winged bean may be due to its alpha amylase enzyme inhibitor. The legume is also fortified with saponins and tannins. It also possesses essential oil such as linoleic acid, linolenic acid, oleic acid, and palmitic acid. These essential acids, and the bioactive chemicals may contribute to the anti-diabetic properties of winged bean.
Winged bean improves heart health.
Being fortified with essential oil, vitamins A, C, and E, the legume is a good remedy for heart related diseases. Omega-3 fatty acid is known to improve the functions of your heart by reducing the risk of irregular beating of the heart. It also greatly reduces the presence of low density lipoprotein, while at the same time increasing the concentration of high density lipoprotein in the blood.
Winged bean like avocado seed tea,also improves high blood pressure condition. As source antioxidants, it can protect your heart from the harmful attacks of free radical.
Winged bean possess anti-inflammatory compound
A peptide present in the bean of Psophocarpus tetragonolobus is said to possess an inhibitory effect on the angiotensin-converting enzyme. This results to anti-inflammatory activities. This means that winged bean can be a good food for people who suffer inflammatory diseases such as arthritis.
It may improve skin diseases
An extract of the leaves of winged bean may be mixed with a cream and applied on the skin to treat such diseases like skin rashes, eczema, ring worm and so many others. This could be due to presence of tannins, polyphenols, phenolic compounds, saponins and essential fatty acids, which possess anti-microbial activities.
Aside the antimicrobial activities of the winged beans against skin diseases; the plant also improves the skin health and restores your skin tone and texture. So, if you make the leaf extract a part of your body cream, and also make the bean or pods a part of your daily menu, you would really enjoy a healthy youthful skin, devoid of blemishes.
It improves digestion of food
Winged bean pod possesses fiber, which helps in improving food digestion and bowel movement to properly remove waste foods. It also helps in improving ulceration of the peptic and gastric mucosal.
Winged bean oil for hair growth
Winged bean oil can also enhance hair growth. As a source of vitamin C and essential oil, the oil can be used in industrial production of body creams that support hair growths and improve alopecia and baldness. You can also mix the oil in your body cream and use it to massage you body.
Can winged beans be eating raw?
The winged bean tubers can be boiled, roasted, baked, or even fried; however, it is not eaten raw. Winged beans contain some antinutritional factors that would need to be removed through boiling, steaming, or roasting. So it is not advisable to eat the tubers raw. However, some have suggested that the pod can be eaten raw. I would advise you cook it along other vegetables or alone before eating.
How to process winged beans into different foods
Winged beans can be processed into different edible products. However, to do this, you must first soak the beans in water. This is a crucial part of the food processing. The mature beans are not a regular food for humans it usually caused abdominal pains which may be attributed to the high presence of antinutritional factors like tannins. Another important factor to consider is the cooking hours for winged beans.
Mature winged beans can take 3 to 4 hours to be done. But by soaking the beans in water overnight, you would soften the seeds and reduce the cooking hours. Also, the soaking of the beans in water enables you to remove the seed testers. The testers may contribute to the abdominal pains one feels when one eats the food.
Winged bean oil
Winged beans may be one of the best cooking oil. The oil is high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids. As earlier stated, your body needs those essential oils for body functions and structural buildings.
Aside being good for cooking, the oil can be used in industrial applications like in soap making, pharmaceuticals, body creams and other food processing industries.
What are the side effects of eating winged bean seeds?
Having stated the numerous health benefits of the legume, it is equally important I let you know that winged beans also possess antinutritional factors that may be toxic to the body. Some of these factors include lectins, hydrogen cyanide, L-Dopa, and a toxic fatty acid known as behenic acid.
The side effects of eating winged beans may include nausea, vomiting, stomach upset, and diarrhea. In some instances, it may lead to death due to the blocking of the ATP synthesis process involved in the final step of electron transport.
Do not eat unprocessed winged beans. Doing this may expose you to toxic substances that may be harmful to your body. Also, when eating, do not continue if you notice any allergic reaction.
Bassal, H., Merah, O., Ali, A. M., Hijazi, A., & El Omar, F. (2020). Psophocarpus tetragonolobus: An Underused Species with Multiple Potential Uses. Plants (Basel, Switzerland), 9(12), 1730.