Bataw is a climbing plant that has edible seeds, pods, leaves, flowers, and roots. Native to Africa, it was introduced to India and was later popularized throughout Asia, this nutritious bean can grow and is cultivated in tropical regions around the globe. Its botanical name is Lablab purpureus and is referred to with a variety of names around the globe such as lablab bean, hyacinth bean, Dolichos bean, seim bean, and Australian pea but it’s most commonly known here in the Philippines simply as Bataw.
Bataw is a sturdy and versatile plant that thrives in the tropics and sub-tropics. Bataw is a climbing vegetable and needs to be grown vertically, if grown correctly, the color of its pods can exhibit an eye-catching bright purple. Most of its parts are edible and can be used for cooking. In Filipino recipes, it is often sautéed, used in salads, curry and vegetable soups, and added to a reduction of coconut milk along with a favorite protein to create a wonderfully delicious and healthy Filipino dish called Bataw Express.
Bataw is often used as feed for livestock because of its high nutritional value. Bataw is also used for its medicinal properties, as it’s packed full of different nutrients and minerals that improve the general health of the human body, as common in the varieties of legume plants. Although most of its parts can be eaten, bataw is possibly unsafe to people if eaten raw and in large quantities because it contains chemicals called cyanogenic glycosides that can be poisonous. With careful preparation, bataw can be incorporated into your regular diet for its high nutritional value and multiple health benefits.
Read further for more details on the health benefits of bataw:
- Bataw can help in improving brain function
Bataw is rich in copper which is an essential mineral for the brain in that it helps regulate one’s mood, outlook, and focus. That is because copper can enhance the body’s synthesis of galactose and the hormone dopamine, which is a hormone that plays a factor in making the brain “feel happy.” Copper is also associated with the utilization of other nutrients in the body such as tyrosinase, ascorbate oxidase, superoxide dismutase, and vitamin C. The increased utilization of vitamin C caused by copper provides the body with increased activity for its antioxidants. This strengthens the brain against free radicals that prevent risks of neurodegenerative diseases and cancer from developing and slows down the aging process.
- Bataw helps control anxiety
Bataw contains high levels of proteins that are effective in balancing serotonin and dopamine in the brain. These two are neurotransmitters that send chemicals to the brain that if left unchecked are responsible for causing anxiety. Protein helps them to reach an equilibrium where the brain then feels calm. The balance in hormone levels also helps in preventing mood swings, irritability, cravings, and enhances mood.
- Bataw helps in strengthening dental health
Bataw can help prevent tooth decay and strengthen gums because of its rich nutrient and mineral content that helps with dental health. Bataw contains high levels of vitamin D, calcium, and phosphorus which are essential for strengthening teeth and bones. Bataw can help strengthen the jaw bone mineral density and tooth enamel that keeps the teeth locked in place.
Vitamin D, calcium, and phosphorus are important factors for teeth formation. Vitamin D and phosphorus enhances and balances the absorption of calcium in the body to form teeth. This is especially important for children to help keep their teeth strong and healthy. The high content of vitamin D in Bataw, in particular, can help reduce gum inflammation that that is related to periodontal gum disease.
- Bataw can help treat insomnia
One of the factors that lead to insomnia is the lack of sufficient nutrients in the body. Stress is another factor that contributes to a person experiencing insomnia. The consumption of bataw can help alleviate these factors due to its high levels of overall nutritional content. In particular, the high amount of magnesium in bataw can provide people suffering from insomnia increased amount of time sleeping, its efficiency and sleep onset.
Other than that, magnesium also lowers the cortisol levels and increases melatonin concentration in the body which can lead to reduced stress levels. Consuming bataw will help lessen insomnia symptoms because it can provide people suffering from insomnia sufficient nutrition and magnesium content needed for a good night’s sleep.
- Bataw can strengthen cardiovascular health
Bataw can strengthen cardiovascular health and prevent heart disease because of its high levels of vitamin B1. Vitamin B1 is essential in keeping the ventricular function of the heart healthy reducing the risks of heart disease and heart failure. B1 is also vital for the production of the neurotransmitter called acetylcholine, which relay messages exchanged by nerves and muscles, allowing the heart to correctly function.
Bataw also lowers the LDL cholesterol levels or bad cholesterol of the body that can help prevent coronary heart disease.
- Bataw helps to maintain a healthy digestion
Bataw is rich in fiber which plays a vital role in digestion. Bataw can help ease the digestive process through its high fiber content and can help reduce bloating, indigestion, constipation and other forms of digestion problems. The fiber in bataw adds the bulk in the stool that speeds up the digestive process to easily eliminate waste from the body.
- Bataw can help prevent cancer
Through its high levels of zinc content, bataw can help in preventing cancer. Zinc possesses antioxidant properties that help in promoting healthy cell division that can prevent the mutation of cells and the development of tumors. Along with antioxidant properties, zinc also has anti-inflammatory properties that help counteract oxidative stress which reduces the development of diseases in the body. Consuming bataw can help prevent cancer because of its high zinc content.
Bataw can also boost the immune system because of its high zinc content. As zinc has antioxidant properties, it strengthens the organs against free radicals that can cause infections and diseases, in turn, creating a stronger and healthier immune system.
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