Beans, lentils, and green peas are examples of legumes, which are nutritious additions to any diet. According to research, they can help control blood pressure and cholesterol and reduce the risk of chronic diseases and obesity. Some people are unsure what a legume, bean, or pulse is, and many people do not eat them regularly. However, legumes are not just for vegans and vegetarians; they can benefit anyone.
They’re also excellent vegetarian protein sources. Beans and legumes have several health advantages. More of them may help lower cholesterol, lower blood sugar, and boost good bacteria in the gut. Beans and legumes, such as chickpeas, and hummus, which are primarily made from chickpeas, have been shown in numerous scientific studies to have a variety of health benefits. Compared to other high-carb foods, chickpeas are especially beneficial for lowering post-meal blood sugar and increasing insulin sensitivity.
Legumes Food Nutrition Facts
What are Legumes?
Plants in the Fabaceae or Leguminosae family that grow in pods are legumes. The common bean Phaseolus vulgaris and its seeds or unripe fruit, commonly referred to as beans or pulses belong to this edible plant family. Lentils, the seeds of the plant Lens culinaris, are also legumes. People eat immature legume pods before the seeds are ready to eat. French beans, mange tout, and sugar snap peas are some examples.
The pulse is the edible seed contained within a legume pod. Beans, lentils, and green peas are examples of pulses. People buy dried or canned beans and lentils after manufacturers dry the seeds and beans of legume plants. Fresh legumes such as green peas and fava beans are also available for consumption. However, eating beans raw or dried can have negative health consequences, and some beans are incredibly toxic, so people should soak or cook them first.
The following is a list of common legumes:
People usually refer to the larger fruits of legume plants like beans and commonly purchase them in fresh, dried, or canned form.
- kidney bean
- black bean
- adzuki bean
- blackeye bean
- navy bean
- pinto bean
- cannellini bean
- flageolet bean
- borlotti bean
- garbanzo bean (chickpea)
- lima bean
- fava bean
- pigeon peas
- split peas
People buy lentils as dried or canned products because they are the smaller seeds of the Lens culinaris legume plant.
Also included in the legume family are green peas, peanuts, and soybeans. People call these foods by other names, even though they grow in pods and are the fruit of the legume plant. When green peas, peanuts, and soybeans are processed, most people refer to them as vegetables, nuts, and soy.
Immature soybeans or edamame beans, on the other hand, are a bean that people buy and use in the same way as other beans, whether fresh, canned, or dried.
What are the Health Benefits of Legumes?
Here are the health benefits of legumes:
- Legumes have a moderately high total calorie content, such as beans, peas, lentils, and pulses.
- Legumes are the only natural sources of calories proportionately distributed between carbohydrates, proteins, and fats in the healthy range of 70%, 20%, and 10%, respectively.
- The protein content of the beans varies between 17 and 40 percent. Soybeans have the highest protein content of any legume. Beans and pulses have a protein profile that includes all essential amino acids, including leucine, which is lacking in cereal grains.
- Beans and lentils are cholesterol-free. Their fat composition is primarily polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) with little saturated fat, which aids in weight loss and blood pressure control.
- The dietary fiber in the beans/lentils comes from their outer peel (seed coat). This non-starch polysaccharide helps slow glucose absorption into the bloodstream by inhibiting cholesterol and fat absorption.
- Pulses are high in long linear chain amylose and low in amylopectin, making them structurally complex carbohydrates. Amylose crystallizes faster than amylopectin, so high-amylose starch resists digestion better.
- In addition, the starch in pulses is a type-1 indigestible resistant starch. Pulses can thus help people with diabetes regulate their blood glucose levels and improve insulin sensitivity.
- Some beans, such as kidney beans, are incredibly high in antioxidants. They contain a lot of polyphenolic pigment compounds like quercetin.
Despite the health benefits of eating legumes, there are some disadvantages that some people should be aware of when incorporating legumes into their diet.
Antinutrients are compounds found in legumes, according to some. These compounds protect the plant from animals and insects and infections.
However, when humans consume these compounds, they can bind to essential minerals and prevent the body from absorbing them. As a result, some people are concerned that people who consume beans and lentils regularly may suffer from mineral deficiencies.
Phytates and lectins are among the compounds in question. Soybeans also contain phytoestrogens, which some experts believe can help with menopause symptoms. They do, however, increase the risk of hormonal cancers.
However, according to a review published in 2020, the benefits of eating foods that contain so-called antinutrients outweigh the risks. According to the authors, soaking, cooking, and fermenting can also lower levels, and some compounds may have beneficial effects.
Beans contain oligosaccharides, a complex carbohydrate that can cause bloating and flatulence in some people. The US Dry Bean Council, on the other hand, claims that as people get used to eating beans once or twice a week, their flatulence decreases.
To reduce compounds that may cause digestive discomfort, they recommend using the hot-soak method outlined below and cooking with fresh water.
How to Prepare and Eat Legumes?
Dried beans require soaking, and some sources, including The Bean Institute, recommend using the hot soak method. This method cuts down cooking time, yields tender beans, and reduces compounds that cause flatulence or gas. Before soaking, any debris from the dried beans should be removed and rinsed under cold running water.
To soak the beans using the hot soak method:
- Place beans in a large pot with 10 cups of water for every 2 cups of beans.
- Heat the beans to boiling point and boil for an extra 2 to 3 minutes.
- Remove from the heat, cover the pot, and let it stand for 4 hours.
- Drain the beans, discarding the soaking water.
- Rinse the beans with fresh, running cold water.
Following soaking, the beans must be cooked for 30 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the variety.
Other pulses, such as red lentils, don’t need to be soaked, and canned beans and pulses are ready to eat and can be heated or eaten right out of the can.
Beans and pulses can be used in salads, dahls, and one-pot meals like casseroles and curries. Hummus, spicy pinto bean dip, or fava bean and mint dip are all examples of healthy and tasty dips made with beans and herbs, and spices.
How to Legume Preparation and Storage?
Galactooligosaccharides (GOS) are carbs found in beans that can cause gas. Most of these can be avoided by soaking and rinsing dry beans before cooking. Also, rinse canned legumes. If you’re new to them, start with small amounts to help your body adjust to the high fiber content. Raw or undercooked beans contain lectins, which can upset your stomach and cause nausea, diarrhea, and bloating. Because lectins are mostly found outside legumes, they can be removed by boiling them or soaking them in water for a few hours.
Except for a few, such as lentils and black-eyed peas, dried legumes must be soaked before cooking. You can either boil them and set them aside at room temperature for 1 to 4 hours or cover them in water and refrigerate them overnight. Boil until the vegetables are tender, about 45 minutes.
Need them right away? Choose a legume that does not require soaking and is “ready to go.” Alternatively, you could open a can. Before serving, be sure to rinse them. Dried legumes should be stored in sturdy containers with tight-fitting lids. Keep them cool and dry away from direct sunlight.
Green peas, beans, and lentils are examples of legumes that can be purchased fresh, dried, or canned. Legumes are a good source of protein, fiber, and phytonutrients and have a low GI. They also contain various essential vitamins and minerals, making them a nutritious addition to any diet. Lowering the risk of chronic diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular disease and controlling weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels are all potential health benefits of legumes. Using the proper soaking and cooking methods, people can reduce antinutrients and compounds that cause gas. Salads, one-pot meals, and dips can all benefit from legumes.