Velvet Bean: The Exotic Legume of Mucuna Pruriens
Velvet beans are legumes that have deep purple bean pods. Their plants are long climbing wines and have purplish flowers with hairy pods. They are native to southern China and eastern India. However, now they are widespread with cultivations in Australia and South America. Velvet bean plants have a short lifespan. People mainly use them as medicinal and cover and food crops. In addition, people use them as organic manure and grazing.
The scientific term for Velvet bean is Mucuna Prurien. Having spread across the globe, they are known by different names. Cowhage, Kiwanch, and Cowich are a few of them. Ancient Ayurveda uses velvet beans as a medicine that helps treat anxiety, depression, dysentery, snake bites and infertility. Furthermore, velvet bean extracts also help treat cough, diabetes and cancer.
Nutritional Properties of Velvet Beans
Mucuna beans are rich in minerals, essential elements and phytonutrients. In addition, it is a powerhouse of antioxidants.
One hundred grams of edible velvet bean contains:
- Carbohydrates: 52.56 g
- Protein: 31.44 g
- Fats: 6.73 g
- Fibre: 5.16 g
Mineral composition of edible velvet beans (white):
- Potassium: 1575mg
- Calcium: 87.80mg
- Magnesium: 120mg
- Iron: 5.79mg
- Sodium: 12.70mg
- Phosphorus: 499mg
- Zinc: 5.26mg
Mineral composition of edible velvet beans (black):
- Potassium: 1343mg
- Calcium: 104mg
- Magnesium: 109mg
- Iron: 7.47mg
- Sodium: 25.70mg
- Phosphorus: 376mg
- Zinc: 12.20mg
These beans also contain about 60 phytochemicals that make the immune system strong, regulate hormones, protect cells from DNA damage and slow down the growth of cancer cells.
Health Benefits of Velvet Bean
Velvet bean, also known as kaunch ke beej, is an exotic legume. It has excellent health benefits.
1. Improves Brain Function
The most potent phytonutrient in Velvet Bean is an amino acid called Levodopa (L-Dopa). It is the precursor to dopamine and crosses the blood-brain barrier to increase dopamine neurotransmission. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps transmit nerve signals. Our body needs adequate dopamine for alertness, concentration, happiness, regulating mood swings, memory, etc. Along with other neurotransmitters like serotonin and adrenaline, it controls sensory and motor control, sleep stress response, and digestion, hormone synthesis.
2. Anti-Parkinson’s Effect
Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is a degenerative disease that affects the nervous system. The deficiency of dopamine causes it. In addition, the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease include muscle rigidity, tremor, and restricted movement.
The conventional medicines for Parkinson’s may not cross the blood-brain barrier to stimulate dopamine. However, velvet bean nutrients may permeate to boost dopamine levels. It may also have an antidepressant effect. Dopamine combined with serotonin and Adrenaline may help to limit Parkinson’s symptoms.
3. Anti-Cancer Effect
Radical cell injury is the primary cause of cancer. The regular recommended intake of beans may show anti-cancer effects. It may increase glutathione, superoxide dismutase, and catalase levels in your body. They are potent antioxidants and may protect your cells from free radical injury. In addition, the antioxidants prevent the oxidation of cells.
Oxidation in the cells damages the essential components of cells. For example, it damages the cell membrane, protein and DNA, leading to hampered cell functioning. Therefore, including velvet beans in your diet may prevent and restrict the growth of cancer cells.
The methanol content in beans may also reduce tumour growth.
4. Healthy Reproductive System
Velvet bean extracts may improve reproductive issues. They consist of a wide range of alkaloids, which may revive testosterone synthesis. As a result, it may enhance your sperm count, motility and viability. In addition, improving testosterone may help the better synthesis of healthy sperms.
Low testosterone, abnormal follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), and prolactin are causes of infertility. Dietary intake of these beans may reduce FSH and Prolactin. Therefore, it may improve female fertility.
It also enhances the testosterone hormone, an essential male hormone for sperm synthesis. Studies suggest that treatments with velvet bean show significant improvement in sperm count and sperm motility. Therefore, pharma companies use velvet bean extracts to produce reproductive tonics for reproductive disorders.
5. Velvet Beans Prevents Bacterial Infections
A study demonstrates the antibacterial activity of hexane, chloroform, and methanol extracts from velvet beans. The study proves that all extracts exhibit antimicrobial activity against different species of bacteria and fungi. However, the methanol extract of velvet beans shows the highest antimicrobial activity against all the bacterial and fungal species. At the same time, chloroform extracts show moderate antimicrobial activity.
People use bean extracts as ingredients in treatments for intestinal worm infestation. The roots of the plant are also antibacterial. Farmers often use them as ingredients to keep bacterias and pathogens away from trees and plants.
6. Anti-Venom Properties
Traditional and alternative medicines use Velvet bean seeds to treat snake bites. These extracts may also give you long term protection from snake venom. Research shows that velvet bean extracts synthesise antidotes against Viper Venom. The bean has proteins similar to snake venom proteins. It may trigger antibodies, which help to counteract snake venom. It may limit the poisoning effects.
7. Prevents Iron Deficiency
Velvet beans are rich in iron. Iron is required by the body to create red blood cells. Hence it may prevent iron deficiency disorders like anaemia.
8. Mood Stabilizer
Velvet beans are a natural antidote for depression and stress. Dopamine and serotonin may manage your mood swings and regulate your sleep cycle.
Epinephrine and norepinephrine enhance cellular mare, which are dopamine derivatives. As a result, they regulate your nerve impulses, blood circulation, and oxygen levels. In addition, velvet beans may alert and energise you, impart relaxation and peacefulness.
Velvet beans lower your body’s cortisol (the stress hormone) levels. Altered heart rate, blood pressure, headaches result from stress. Therefore the bean may control your anxiety.
9. Increases Cognitive Effects
The violet bean is full of nootropic elements, which may boost your brain functions. You may term them as cognition or memory enhancers also. These elements include piracetam and aniracetam. Along with dopamine, they may refine your senses and thoughts and clear your thoughts to boost confidence.
Who Should Eat Velvet Beans?
Velvet beans are a rich source of multiple essential nutrients. Therefore, a recommended dose may be ideal for those with the following disorders:
- Parkinson’s Disease
- People with fertility issues.
- Blood Pressure,
- High Cholesterol
- Digestive disorders
Ways to Include Velvet Bean in Your Diet
Consuming 15- 20 grams of velvet beans once or twice a week may be ideal for a healthy adult. However, begin with 5 grams per day. It may help you check your tolerance. It also rules out the possibility of any side effects.
You may roast and ground these beans into a fine powder. Then, you can take the powder with warm milk and water. Additionally, you may add it to regular chapati or bread flour or tortillas, flat loaves of bread, soups etc.
You can cook the whole bean like any other edible bean. For example, you can make curries or add them to rice and other delicacies. You can also include cooked fresh shoots or beans in salads, soups.
Capsules and Medications
Velvet bean capsules are available as supplements. However, check with your healthcare provider before you take them. That will help you avoid any adverse reactions.
Velvet Bean Coffee
- Preparation time-5 minutes
- Velvet Bean ground and roasted-1 tsp
- Jaggery or palm sugar-1 tsp
- Cinnamon powder -1/2 tsp
- Bring two cups of water to a boil.
- Add cinnamon powder. Let it boil for 2 minutes.
- Then add one teaspoon of the velvet bean powder along with sugar or jaggery.
- Simmer for two minutes.
- Strain the coffee
- Mix well and Serve.
Possible Side Effects of Velvet Beans
You may consume velvet beans with some caution. However, some people must avoid it.
- The beans or their contents may interfere with the symptoms and treatments of psychosis, neuropathy, treatment for irregular heartbeats or Arrhythmia.
- Consuming these beans may not be safe during pregnancy. Velvet bean seeds contain a uterine stimulating effect, leading to uterine rupture and bleeding. In addition, uterine stimulant hyperactivity may also cause disorders in the foetus, like abnormalities in foetal heart rate. As a result, it may lead to congenital disabilities. Therefore, pregnant women and lactating mothers should avoid eating velvet beans.
- People with liver disease should also avoid consuming these beans. The Levodopa in velvet beans may enhance the synthesis of Serum glutamic oxaloacetic transaminase (SGOT). They are the indicators of liver disease.
- Overconsumption of velvet beans may result in a high level of L-Dopa. As a result, it triggers abnormal dopamine synthesis causing hallucinations, delusions, and associated symptoms like schizophrenia.
- The bean may contain anti-nutrients. It includes tannins, phenols etc. Therefore, you should soak and clean it thoroughly before consumption.
- The hair of beans may cause allergic reactions if you are sensitive. In addition, it may cause severe itching and rashes.
Velvet bean or Mucuna Pruriens is an undervalued legume. However, it has gained popularity due to its extensive medicinal properties. Its health benefits are other added advantages. These legumes are full of multiple nutritional properties. For example, they are a rich source of proteins and essential minerals. As a result, traditional and modern medicines use them widely. However, you should soak and clean them properly and consume them in moderation.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) Q. What are the uses of velvet bean?
A. You may use velvet beans to treat reproductive issues, blood pressure and neurological disorders. They may also treat intestinal worm infestation. Moreover, people use them in fertilisers because they may enhance nitrogen absorption in plants.
Q. Does velvet bean increase testosterone?
A. Yes. Velvet beans may increase plasma testosterone levels due to the increased dopamine. Dopamine stimulates testosterone synthesis and plays a vital role in maintaining the male reproductive system.
Q. Does velvet bean increase dopamine?
A. The seeds of these beans are high in levodopa and its derivatives. Levodopa is the precursor to dopamine. It crosses the blood-brain barrier to increase dopamine neurotransmission. Therefore, consuming velvet beans may increase your dopamine level.
Q. How much velvet bean should I take?
A. One serving of cooked beans a day is sufficient. However, if you use velvet bean powder, 1-2 teaspoons per day are ideal. However, check with your doctor before including any supplements in your routine diet.
Q. What are the benefits of Mucuna?
A. Mucuna or velvet bean nourishes and rejuvenates your tissues. It may be beneficial for reproductive nervous disorders. It also helps in digestion, diabetes, blood circulation etc.
Q. What are the side effects of Mucuna Pruriens?
A. The side effects may be rare. However, you cannot rule them out. The possible side effects are headache, irregular heartbeat, confusion and disoriented speech. Agitation, hallucinations, and delusions may also occur. In addition, velvet bean hair is a strong irritant and may cause intense itching and swelling.
Q. Does Mucuna pruriens give you energy?
A. Mucuna helps in the natural synthesis of dopamine, a neurotransmitter. Dopamine elevates your energy levels. It is majorly responsible for how we feel. High dopamine makes us energetic and positive.
Q. Does Mucuna pruriens help depression?
A. Mucuna Pruriens may effectively elevate dopamine and serotonin levels. As a result, they may control your mood swings and sleep cycles. Both these hormones control our mood. Therefore, they are effective in anti-depression therapy.
Q. Does Mucuna help anxiety?
A. The dopamine in velvet beans lowers the stress hormone (cortisol) in your body. Therefore, the bean may help in reducing anxiety.