Red adzuki beans and odema

Red adzuki beans and odema

Nowadays, you can find red adzuki beans (Vigna angularis) also known as red beans in China within health food shops and Chinese groceries. They are deep red in colour and round in shape.

They have excellent properties in removing dampness, reducing swelling and eliminating toxins. Therefore, Chinese practitioners commonly use them in diet therapy for their health benefits. Traditionally, red adzuki beans are commonly used in Chinese cooking and red bean soup is a very popular desert in many Chinese restaurants.

Causes of oedema

Oedema is a very common symptom seen in the clinic. Oedema can be a disease or it can be the result of another disease or disorder of the internal organs.

Among the many possible causes, Chinese medicine believes that oedema is usually associated with Kidney Yang Deficiency, Spleen Yang Deficiency, Blood Stagnation, Qi Stagnation, Damp or Phlegm syndromes. All of these disorders will finally cause impaired circulation resulting in fluid becoming stuck in certain areas of the body, causing oedema.

Symptoms of Oedema

Depending on the cause of the oedema, the puffiness or swelling can occur in different parts of the body – the ankles, knees, arms, facial area or even the whole body.

The body will usually experience other symptoms in conjunction with the oedema:

  • joint pain
  • lack of energy
  • bloating
  • sluggish bowel movement
  • weight gain
  • scanty urination.

Oedema sometimes can be a symptoms of the following medical diseases:

  • obesity and over-weight
  • underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism)
  • high blood pressure (hypertension)
  • some kidney diseases

If you are suffering from the above symptoms of oedema, I suggest you see your doctor to find out the cause as it may be a sign of disorder in the internal organs.

During your treatment, you can eat certain foods to help your body to expel excess fluid. Red adzuki beans are one of these foods.

Health effects of red adzuki beans

Reduce Fluid Retention

Traditional Chinese medicine texts mention that red beans are sweet in taste and have an affinity for the Spleen organ and channel by promoting transportation of the fluid, helping the body pass more fluid and reduce oedema. It is suitable for the symptoms mentioned above.

Red beans are also very suitable in damp, wet areas or humid seasons. Eating red beans regularly in these conditions can help the body to avoid the affects of external pathogenic dampness.

Red beans can also be used in conjunction with a weight loss program, where the weight is due to excess fluid retention.

Help to Clear Skin Heat & Toxins

Chinese medicine considers that some skin conditions are due to heat and toxins in the blood, for example, rashes, pimples and boils. If you have these symptoms you can eat adzuki bean and mung bean soup in conjunction with your regular therapy. Please see the recipe below.

Adzuki bean recipes

Adzuki bean soup

Boil 1 handful of red adzuki beans in 4 cups of water until the beans are soft.

You can drink the soup and eat the beans 2-3 times per week to reduce oedema.

Effects of the dish: Promote water metabolism, pass more fluid, reduce oedema.

Adzuki bean and mung bean soup

Boil 1 handful each of red adzuki beans and mung beans in 4 cups of water for 15 minutes on low. Drink the soup only 2-3 times per week.

Effects of the dish: Clear skin and heat toxins; help the symptoms mentioned above.


If you experience constipation (dry stools), please avoid eating red beans.

If you are unsure whether red beans are suitable for you, please consult your experienced traditional Chinese medicine practitioner.

Food as medicine (A disclaimer)

Our “food as medicine” articles share knowledge about health foods in the context of traditional Chinese medicine diet therapy and practices often dating back thousands of years. We also support this knowledge with references to published scientific research. Please keep in mind that scientific research into the health benefits of foods is still emerging and human research is limited.

Consuming a wide variety of natural foods as part of a balanced diet is most beneficial for health, however, we don’t advise using food alone to treat diseases. Please consult with your doctor or health professional about which foods are suitable for your body or health issues.

What Does The Research Say?

The following insights are obtained from scientific studies, systematic reviews and analysis of clinical trials investigating the efficacy of Adzuki Beans.

Scientific References

Browse our collection of scientific research on Adzuki Beans. It includes recent and reputable papers published by peer-reviewed journals within the last 10 years.

Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry

2019, May 4

Safety and efficacy of adzuki bean extract in subjects with moderate to high LDL-C: a randomized trial
Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry Japan Society for Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Agrochemistry

The adzuki bean group showed a significant increase in the ΔHDL-C concentration compared with the placebo group after 4 weeks of intervention. This comprehensive RCT highlighted that adzuki beans reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

Tomoko Kitano-Okada, Ryuji Nagata, Kyu-Ho Han, Nana Mikami, Koji Satoh, Jun Nishihira, Keiko Sasaki, Kiyoshi Ohba, Michihiro Fukusim Full Article

Food Chemistry

2016, Jun 15

Phytochemical distribution in hull and cotyledon of adzuki bean (Vigna angularis L.) and mung bean (Vigna radiate L.), and their contribution to antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-diabetic activities
Food Chemistry

The results indicated that the bean hulls were the most abundant in phytochemicals and largely contributed antioxidant activities, anti-inflammatory effects and anti-diabetic effects of whole grains.

Jiaqiang Luo, Weixi Cai, Tong Wu, Baojun Xu Full Article

Ciencia e Agrotecnologia

2016, Jan 2

Nutritional and bioactive compounds of adzuki beans cultivars using chemometric approach
Ciencia e Agrotecnologia

Adzuki beans are high in vitamin E, iron, manganese and zinc. Hence, they are very important mainly due to their function as cofactors in metabolic reactions.

Hou D, Yousaf L, Xue Y, et al. Full Article

Food and Agricultural Immunology

2015, Sep 28

Nutritional composition and biological activities of 17 Chinese adzuki bean (Vigna angularis) varieties
Food and Agricultural Immunology

The article indicated that adzuki beans have high content of resistant constitutions such as palmitic acid, linoleic acid and linolenic acid. Linolenic acid has the effects of cardiovascular-protective, anti-cancer, neuro-protective, anti-osteoporotic, anti-inflammatory and antioxidative activities. Therefore making adzuki beans as essential dietary therapy.

Zhenxing Shi, Yang Yao, Yingying Zhu & Guixing Ren Full Article

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Dr Ping Wang is the clinic founder and senior practitioner of Ping Ming Health. She has over 30 years of experience in traditional Chinese medicine teaching and practice. Dr Ping especially enjoys sharing her knowledge of Chinese medicine through our popular clinic articles, seminars and clinical training of students and practitioners.