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Anasazi beans are a type of edible legume with a long history and a unique appearance.
In this article, we’ll delve into the characteristics of Anasazi beans, explore their nutritional values, and review their potential benefits and downsides.
Table of contents
What Are Anasazi Beans?
Anasazi beans, a type of bean with origins lying in the American Southwest, potentially up to 7,000 years ago, are thought to be one of the very first crops grown in the area (1).
While not as widely known or commonly consumed as some other bean varieties, Anasazi beans are a heirloom crop with a distinct appearance. The beans are medium in size, showcasing an appealing speckled appearance, featuring a primary burgundy color covered in random splashes of white color.
In terms of taste, Anasazi beans are quite a mild-tasting bean, and they have a mildly sweet and nutty flavor. Once cooked, they develop a soft and creamy texture similar to cannellini and pinto beans.
While their texture is sometimes compared to pinto beans, they have quite a different taste. From a nutritional standpoint, Anasazi beans provide a significant source of fiber and protein, and they’re rich in vitamins and minerals.
Unfortunately, there are currently no entries in trusted nutrition databases that provide the complete nutritional values of Anasazi beans.
However, the USDA’s ‘Branded Foods’ database includes an entry that provides the basic nutritional properties of the beans.
The subsequent table shows these nutritional values of Anasazi beans per 100 grams in their raw state (3). The percent daily values (% DV) have been calculated using the USDA data in conjunction with the FDA’s recommended daily values, which are based on a 2000-calorie diet (4).
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As the table indicates, Anasazi beans are an excellent source of both fiber and protein. They also provide a good amount of calcium and iron, and supply 343 calories per 100 grams in their dried state.
Do Anasazi Beans Have Any Health Benefits?
Firstly, there has been no scientific research dedicated to Anasazi beans. As a result, there are currently no studies on their specific potential benefits.
However, we can infer the benefits that the beans will likely have due to their known nutritional data and common attributes shared by legumes.
Here is an overview of the benefits provided by Anasazi beans:
High in protein
At approximately 23% protein by weight, Anasazi beans offer a substantial protein provision.
As a plant-based protein source, this also makes the beans an excellent option for vegans and vegetarians.
That said, it is worth pointing out that certain legumes, such as lupin beans, offer a greater quantity of protein gram-for-gram.
Rich In Fiber
Based on their uncooked weight, Anazani beans offer 14.4 grams of fiber per 100 grams, a notably high quantity.
Fiber boasts numerous potential health benefits, including its capacity to improve gastrointestinal health and aid in the regulation of blood sugar levels, especially when compared to non-fiber carbohydrates (5, 6, 7, 8).
A Good Source of Minerals
While the full mineral values of Anasazi beans are not listed in nutritional databases, most legumes contain a good range of minerals. As an example of this, we can look at the mineral profile of tepary beans and lima beans.
From what we do know, according to the USDA database, Anasazi beans provide large quantities of calcium and iron.
Per 100 grams in their raw state, the beans offer:
- Calcium: A notable 229 mg of calcium, accounting for 17.6% of the recommended daily value. Calcium plays a vital role in building and maintaining healthy bones. Additionally, it contributes to muscular function and clotting (3, 4, 9).
- Iron: a substantial 10.3 mg of iron, equating to 57.2% of the recommended daily value. Among its numerous functions, iron is crucial for growth, brain development, and the proper functioning of cells (3, 4, 10).
Research has shown that fiber-rich legumes, such as Anasazi beans, can potentially lower LDL-C (low-density lipoprotein cholesterol). This effect is primarily due to fiber’s ability to bind and lower cholesterol absorption and increase the production of short-chain fatty acids, which inhibit cholesterol synthesis (11, 12).
Elevated levels of LDL-C are a well-established risk factor for cardiovascular disease (13).
The combination of dietary fiber and protein found within Anasazi beans may aid with weight management.
Foods that promote satiety can help to reduce subsequent food consumption, thereby lowering overall calorie intake.
Satiety-promoting foods are particularly important when aiming for weight loss via reduced energy intake. In contrast, diets that leave people feeling hungry and craving more food are often unsustainable in the long run.
In addition to their nutritional benefits, it is important to be aware of some potential downsides to Anasazi beans.
Similar to other legumes, Anasazi beans contain various tannins (19).
Foods with this potential effect are sometimes referred to as ‘anti-nutrients.
That said, it is important to note that tannins, as a type of polyphenol, can exhibit beneficial effects as well as negative ones. For instance, research suggests they may have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties (22, 23).
There is little in the scientific literature regarding Anasazi bean allergies, with most legume allergies linked to soybean consumption.
However, as with any food, some individuals could potentially have an allergic response to Anasazi beans.
Anyone who suspects they may have an allergy to Anasazi beans should seek medical advice from their physician or a trusted health professional.
More Expensive Than Other Legumes
Since Anasazi beans are not among the most commonly consumed legume variants, they can be harder to track down.
Consequently, they tend to have a higher price tag than more common legumes.
While this may not be an issue for those who wish to try Anasazi beans and can afford the extra expense, it will be an understandable factor to consider for others.
There is likely little, if any, benefit from consuming Anasazi beans over more commonly available legumes.
How To Use Anasazi Beans
As with all beans, Anasazi beans are very versatile and work well in a variety of recipes.
Here are some ideas on how to use them:
- Curries, soups, and stews: Add Anasazi beans to a curry, soup or stew to add some extra texture and thickness, and increase the dish’s provision of fiber and protein.
- Dips/hummus: It is possible to make a hummus-style dip using any kind of legume rather than just chickpeas. Serve it as a dip or spread on bread or baked potatoes.
- Roasted beans: Cook some Anasazi beans until they’re soft, and then leave them to dry. Once dry, toss the beans with a bit of oil and salt, and any additional seasonings of choice (e.g. curry powder, garlic powder). After seasoning, roast them in the oven until they’re crunchy.
- Side dish: Pair cooked Anasazi beans with meat, seafood, grains, or vegetables as a simple side.
- Substitute for other beans in recipes: Don’t hesitate to use Anasazi beans in any recipe calling for other bean varieties. For instance, they can make a great alternative to red kidney beans in chili con carne.
Where Can You Buy Anasazi Beans?
Since they are not as widely favored as other legumes, it can be more challenging to find a store selling Anasazi beans.
That said, there are several options to buy them:
- Direct from producers/sellers on their website: Conduct a local search for Anasazi beans and you’re likely to find local producers or sellers.
- Larger grocery stores: It is possible that some larger grocery stores or stores with a ‘health food’ focus may stock Anasazi beans.
- Online stores: Numerous well-known online stores sell Anasazi beans. For example, Amazon have an extensive selection here.
Commonly Asked Questions
For some additional information, here are the answers to some commonly asked questions about Anasazi beans.
The simplest method for cooking the beans involves an overnight soak to soften them. After this soak, place the Anasazi beans in a large pot, bring them to a boil, and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Then let them simmer for around 90 minutes, or until the beans are soft.
No, Anasazi beans are a heirloom crop and they are not genetically modified.
Pinto beans are often likened to Anasazi beans in terms of taste and texture. However, there are distinct taste differences between the two. Anasazi beans typically have a milder flavor.
Yes, the beans do not contain gluten and are suitable for gluten-free diets.
The primary nutritional benefit of Anasazi beans is their protein and fiber content. Additionally, the beans also provide a broad range of vitamins and minerals.
Anasazi are a heirloom bean with more history than most modern bean varieties.
Combined with their appealing and colorful appearance, it is understandable that people may wish to give these beans a try.
In terms of nutrition, the beans offer high quantities of fiber and protein.
Despite nutritional databases not currently listing their comprehensive micronutrient breakdown, these beans should also provide a substantial dose of various vitamins and minerals.
Although they have no unique benefits compared to other legumes, Anasazi beans are a healthful option that are worth trying.