July 22, 2015 · Written by Foodtolive Team

What Are Legumes and Why Do You Need to Eat Them

A healthy diet must be full of proteins, minerals, vitamins, and dietary fiber. It’s more difficult for vegetarians to meet these nutritional requirements because they don’t eat any meat, which is the primary source of proteins. However, there are several foods that can make up for this. One of them is legumes.


What are legumes?

What are legumes

They are seeds of specific varieties of plants. There are two types of them:

  • Mature legumes.
    These are dried seeds inside pods, like chickpeas and beans.
  • Immature legumes.
    The seeds that are harvested before they get a chance to mature, for example, green peas.


Different Types of Legumes

Different Types of Legumes

There is a great variety of legumes, and many of the foods you are used to eating are actually classed as such, even if you are used to seeing them as something else. For example, peanuts, which the majority of people believe to be a kind of nut, are legumes.

Here is a list of foods that fall into this category:

  • Chickpeas
  • Peas
  • Beans
  • Lentils
  • Lupins

There is a great variety of each kind for you to choose from. Regardless of which of the many foods you choose, you will definitely reap quite a few benefits from eating it as each kind is equally beneficial to your health.

Of course, there are some minor differences. However, the fact that all of them are good for you in one way or another cannot be argued. The only thing you need to worry about is developing an allergic reaction. This isn’t as common as nut allergy, but you need to be aware of the risks. In case you are prone to these reactions, you should be very careful when trying any new foods. Note that peanuts and soybeans are both legumes.

Watch out for legume allergy symptoms:

Remember that anaphylactic shock is a life threatening condition. If you are at risk of developing such an extreme reaction to legumes, you need to be aware of the fact that various legume powders are added to many breads and other foods. You will need to make sure that the dish you are about to eat is completely legume-free in order to be safe.


Nutritional Value of Legumes

Nutritional Value of Legumes

These foods are good for you because they are literally packed with all kinds of nutrients. This is the main reason that explains why they make a great addition to any diet. Regardless of whether you eat meat or try to lose weight, including some lentils and beans in your meal plan will be a good choice.

Nutritional value of legumes is exceptionally high. The most important elements your body gets from them are:

  • They make the building blocks your body uses to renew cells. A healthy intake of proteins is essential. This is especially important for those who try to build up some muscle.
  • Dietary fiber.
    It is necessary to keep your digestive system healthy and efficient. Fiber helps you control blood sugar levels and can assist you in losing some excess weight.
  • B vitamins.
    These vitamins affect a great number of processes within your body, including the ones responsible for transmitting the impulses from your brain through neurons, as well as the production of various enzymes.

Legumes also are good antioxidants. Therefore, they protect your body from the damage dealt by free radicals, which weaken your immune system and speed up the process of aging. Some kinds of beans are so good in this role that they are recommended for cancer prevention diet. Of course, there is no guarantee that eating legumes will protect your body from this awful disease. However, a healthy intake of antioxidants can help you lower the risks.

Red beans are the most potent antioxidant among its kind. They are as efficient as blueberries in this regard, but much more nutritious. They also provide your body with a large dose of iron. This is an essential benefit considering the fact that a huge number of people suffer from its deficiency. Women are more prone to developing anemia that strives from this condition, so they will benefit from eating red beans on a regular basis more than men.

Kidney beans are considered such an efficient antioxidant that some companies make supplements out of them. They help you control the levels of blood cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease.

All kinds of legumes are an excellent addition to a weight loss program. They are relatively low on calories, but their nutritional value is extremely high. They are also rich in fiber, and this combination of qualities makes them a perfect food for diets.

There is a great number of recipes with legumes in all major national cuisines. As almost every country has some kinds of these plants native to the area, people have been using them for centuries. During this time, they managed to develop recipes that will suit the taste of even the pickiest eaters. Exploring this variety of exotic and delicious foods will definitely teach you appreciate legumes in many forms.