You’ll either love it or hate it. It’s hard to ignore the petai beans. Known to the botanist as Parkia speciosa, and to the common man as stink beans, the petai bean is one that you can only acquire a taste for. Reason being it has a very strong all-pervasive smell that lingers in the mouth and in the excretory systems of the body.
The beans are popular in Asia, particularly Malaysia, Northern India, Indonesia and Thailand. They are sold in clusters, still in their pod, or the seeds are sold separately in bags. They are also pickled in brine and exported in jars.
Besides its culinary uses, Parkia speciosa beans are said to be beneficial in treating a number of health conditions. Hence, its uses can have far-reaching benefits.
The beans are known to help in treating depression, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and constipation. It will be easier to see how these ailments are helped if we break down health-benefiting components of the bean.
Sugars: Comfort eating – that most obese people are prone to and are unable to resist – usually involves consuming large quantities of starchy foods like chocolates and crisps. It is the high carbohydrate content in these foods that tend to satisfy the comfort eater. The petai beans are rich in complex carbohydrates that can give you the same feeling of fullness, thus eliminating the chances of gorging on the wrong foods.
Fiber: for constipation and type II diabetes – High dietary fiber intake has been proven to benefit diabetics. Moreover, natural sugars have the ability to stabilize blood sugar levels. Since petai beans are rich in both, fiber and sugars, it is a perfect diet option for diabetics. The fiber also helps constipation.
Tryptophan: Also called the good-mood amino acid, tryptophan has the ability to increase the serotonin levels in the brain. This effect is further enhanced by the feel-good factor of the bean’s high carbohydrate content. Hence, it can be used for depression and mood disorders.
Vitamin B6: This vitamin is trusted by many to help alleviate premenstrual symptoms. However, instead of taking vitamin pills, women can now opt to go natural and still enjoy the vitamin’s benefits.
Iron: The iron content in petai beans can stimulate the production of hemoglobin thus helping people who are anemic.
Potassium – Potassium has two popular benefits. It helps reduce high blood pressure and it is also known to improve memory and aid concentration. Petai beans, rich in potassium, can be termed the perfect brain food.
Antacid property: The antacid properties of the petai beans can help ulcers and heartburns.
There are many other trusted, but unresearched, uses attributed to the Parkia speciosa beans. A study has shown that the bark of its tree is bursting with antioxidant and antifungal activities. That day does not seem far when the pods too are proven to have these additional health-aiding properties.
Despite the unpleasantness of its smell, the health benefits of the Parkia speciosa beans far outweigh the minor undesirable aspects of it.