The Winged Bean, known in Tagalog as Sigarilyas and Hiligaynon/Bisaya as Balagay is a leguminous plant that produces uniquely shaped beans in color red or green. It is widely grown in tropical countries and highly valued for it’s versatility as a food source. The leaves, seeds and tubers of this plant are also edible.
Effects on Immunity
Don’t be fooled by the above nutritional chart. Although winged beans do not have the same density as Kulitis or Malunggay, super nutritious greens, you are more likely to consume larger amounts of beans than you are leaves. More of it’s weight is also moisture when compared to leafy greens.
Among the beans, Balagay is the highest in calcium. Calcium is essential to our adaptive immunity as it facilitates the communication between our immune system’s cells. This allows them to share information about pathogens that we have encountered and prepare for variants and similar diseases.
It also provides healthy doses of Vitamin C and B which, aside from their effects on the immune system which we have highlighted here, are also antioxidants that allow your body to function properly.
Finally Magnesium and Manganese are needed for the production of Immunoglobins (antibodies) which are also part of adaptive immunity. 1
As we mentioned above, the young leaves are also edible and are very nutritious as well:
“Winged bean leaves, used as greens, are an excellent source of fiber, vitamin-C, vitamin-A, and minerals. 100 g of fresh leaves provide 45 mg of vitamin-C (75% of recommended daily value) and 8090 IU of vitamin-A (270 % of RDA).“
The tubers are also edible when boiled. You can pull these up from the ground after the plant begins to die off. They are rich in protein, more so than potatoes or cassava:
“Winged bean tubers are notably rich sources of starch, protein, and B-complex vitamins. 100 g of root provides 11.6 g of protein in comparison to 2.02 g/100 g and 1.36 g/100 g protein content in potato, and cassava respectively. ” 2
That alone is a good reason to consider this plant for your garden. It is able to provide you with greens, beans and tubers! Not to mention it is a legume that helps to cultivate nitrogen fixing bacteria into your soil.
Winged beans are not often fertilized due to their nitrogen fixing capacity. They are also fairly resilient to pests although pesticide use on these plants is not unheard of. They are also grown as bumper crops on conventional farms so may be exposed to chemicals. It is highly drought and flood tolerant. Make sure that you can source the from organic farmers.