What Are The Health Benefits Of Legumes?

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Nutrition Blog

Legumes and beans are the fruits or seeds of a family of plants which are called Fabaceae. These are commonly eaten around the world and are a rich source of fibre and B vitamins. Beans and legumes are also a phenomenal replacement for meat as a supply of vegetarian protein. They have a number of health benefits, including reducing cholesterol, decreasing blood sugar levels as well as increasing healthy gut bacteria.

You are able to eat green beans as well as snow peas in their pods off the vine. With other types of legumes, the edible parts are the seeds – or pulses – inside the pods. Pulses could be prepared many ways: canned, cooked, dried, frozen whole, ground into flour or split.

It’s hard to say where they started. All major cultures grew some type of legume. In Asia, red adzuki beans are crushed into a paste to make sweets. Black beans are popular in Mexico and Brazil. And you’ll find white cannellini beans in many Italian dishes.

Some common, good-for-you legumes include:

  • Chickpeas, also called garbanzo beans
  • Peanuts
  • Black beans
  • Green peas
  • Lima beans
  • Kidney beans
  • Black-eyed peas
  • Navy beans
  • Great Northern beans
  • Pinto beans
  • Soybeans
  • Lentils

A Nutrient-Rich Option

One of the key advantages of legumes is that they don’t contain much saturated fat, unlike red meat. High amounts of saturated fat may contribute to cardiovascular disease.  So, experts recommend limiting intake to 20 grams per day for a 2 000-calorie-a-day diet, less if your calorie intake is lower.

However, legumes are a phenomenal choice based not only on what they don’t have, but what they contain. Legumes are a good supply of plant protein — half a cup of cooked beans offers between 6 to 9 grams — and they’re jam packed with other nutrients, for example folate, calcium, potassium, zinc, B vitamins, and antioxidants.

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How To Prepare and Store Legumes

Beans have carbohydrates called galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS) that may cause gas. The great news is that you are able to get rid of most of these by soaking and rinsing dry beans before prior to cooking them. Also, rinse canned legumes. If you’re trying them out for the first time, begin with small amounts in order to assist your body with getting used to the high fibre.

In addition, the lectins in raw or undercooked beans could upset your stomach and also cause nausea, diarrhoea, and bloating. As lectins are mostly on the outside of legumes which means that you can remove them by cooking the beans at a high temperature or by soaking them in water for a few hours.

Dried legumes – apart from a few such as lentils and black-eyed peas – need to be soaked in order to get them ready to cook. You can cover them in water and refrigerate overnight, or boil and set them aside at room temperature for 1 to 4 hours. To cook, boil until tender, usually around 45 minutes.

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