Winged Bean (Asparagus Pea)

Winged beans are typical to humid climatic regions.  Vines of this bean can be easily noticed grown in many places in tropical regions for its nutritious beans and nitrogen fixation properties. Legumes from this tropical plant are not the only edible parts as different parts of the plants are also eaten. The unusual name of this plant is endowed due to the physical appearance of the beans which seem to have wing like features. The plant has several common names like Asparagus Pea, Goa bean and Four-angled bean. Beans from this fast growing plant are made into different recipes and relished with rice or bread.

Scientific Name

Psophocarpus tetragonolobus is the scientific name of this plant.

Plant and Description

This plant is a multipurpose crop. Some characteristic features of this plant are:

Height : Height of the vines varies between 3 and 4 meters.

Bean pod : The pods have frilly borders and measure around 6 and 9 inches in length. They also have 4 rows of wing type features on them.

Winged Bean Seed Picture

Winged Bean Seed

Seeds : Winged been seeds burst out from ripe pods which become brownish at the time of ripening.The beans are round in shape and emits an aroma which is similar to that of asparagus.

Flower : Light blue colored flowers adorn these plants.

Distribution

These legumes are widely grown in equatorial regions towards the west of Indian Ocean at the sea level. Many varieties of them are grown in USA. They may also grow in high altitudes like in New Guinea, Myanmar and Assam.  Production of these beans also takes place in Reunion Island and eastern Papua New Guinea. Apart from Asian countries like India and Sri Lanka they are cultivated in Africa, Australia and Hawaii as well.

Growing

It is grown for edible tubers as well as beans. For best results it can be grown in sandy loamy soils that have low organic content. Sow it in a moist soil. Frost is bad for it but it can tolerate high temperature. Ample rainfall is good for it to grow into mature plants producing nutritious legumes. Full sun is ideal for the growth of these plants. The pods can be harvested after 3 months of planting.

Winged Bean Picture

Winged Bean

Health Benefits

To be blessed with optimum health, winged beans are simply ideal. Some of the health benefits derived by eating them are:

  • When compared to variety of legumes, these beans contain the highest proportion of calcium which make bones strong and prevents breakage.
  • Vitamins A and C along with several minerals make up the legumes that endow the body with powers to fight diseases.
  • These edible seeds and its wing-like leaves are a vital source of protein.
  • Its flour is an excellent supplement of protein.

Side effects

There are no known side effects of this legume but careful consumption is important to avoid allergies.

During Pregnancy

Legumes can be very nutritious during pregnancy but some women might be allergic to certain components for which prior consultation with the physician may help.

Nutrition

Nutritional value derived from 180g of seeds, fresh pod and root have been depicted below.

Amount per servingCalories 744 Dietary value%
Fat 30 g 46%
Trans fat
Saturated fat 4g 21%
Sodium 69 mg 3%
Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
Carbohydrate 76 g 25%
Protein 54 g

Recipes

Get some lip smacking recipe ideas of winged beans.

Pictures of Winged Bean

Winged Bean Picture

  • These legumes can be made into stew with coconut milk.
  • It can be added into salads by lightly blanching it.
  • Winged beans can be lightly fried with other nutritious vegetables.
  • Sri Lankan winged bean recipes include various fried and curry dishes.

Winged Bean Uses

Some of the uses of the winged beans have been listed here.

Culinary Uses

  • Winged beans can be dried and pressed to obtain powder which can be made into a drink or bread.
  • Roots of winged beans can be eaten like potatoes.
  • Like spinach, leaves of this plant can be prepared and eaten.
  • It can be pressed in to oil which can be use for cooking.
  • Tender leaves of this plant can be eaten cooked or raw and flowers can also be stir-fried like mushrooms.
  • The pods can be added to soups, curries and stews of different types. Immature seeds can be consumed like green peas.
  • Legumes can also be turned into curd by sprouting it, similar to tofu.
  • It can be added to corn for making a high protein dish which can replenish protein deficiency.
  • In Sri Lanka, these winged beans are combined in recipes for pickles.

Medicinal uses

  • Leaves of the plant might be helpful in treating ailments like skin ulcers, mumps, puffed eyes and boils.

Other uses

  • Flowers of this plant can be used for making food colorings.
Winged Bean Plant Photo

Winged Bean Plant

 

Edibility

Almost the whole bean plant is edible apart from the beans, including roots, flowers and leaves.

Including legumes in every day diet replenishes deficiencies which lead to several ailments. Winged beans are high in protein and they can be eaten in various forms. This is also a lucrative crop as flowers, roots and leaves can also be harvested for different culinary utilities.

How to buy and store Winged beans

To keep them fresh, you can store them in a plastic bag with its neck tightly tied. Place it in the refrigerator for best results. You can buy them from your local grocery store but make sure they are fresh and not wilting.

Pictures

Some images of this Winged Bean listed here will help you in its identification.

Images of Winged Bean

Winged Bean Image

Photos of Winged Bean

Winged Bean Photo

Reference:

http://www.unp.me/f150/benefits-of-winged-bean-68292/

http://crabmedic.blogspot.in/2009/03/winged-beans-and-its-benefits.html

http://www.oregonlive.com/hg/index.ssf/2009/05/fastgrowing_winged_bean_feeds.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winged_bean

http://www.agridept.gov.lk/index.php/en/crop-recommendations/996

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