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Healthy food trends - beans and legumes

Healthy food trends - pulses; Healthy eating - beans and legumes; Weight loss - beans and legumes; Healthy diet - beans and legumes; Wellness - beans and legumes

Legumes are large, fleshy, colorful plant seeds. Beans, peas, and lentils are all types of legumes. Vegetables such as beans and other legumes are an important source of protein. They are a key food in healthy diets and have many benefits.

Beans, lentils, and peas come in many options, cost little money, and are easy to find. Soft and earthy-flavored, legumes can be eaten in many ways.

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TYPES OF LEGUMES

Beans:

Other legumes:

WHY THEY ARE GOOD FOR YOU

Beans and legumes are rich in plant protein, fiber, B-vitamins, iron, folate, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, and zinc. Most beans are also low in fat.

Legumes are similar to meat in nutrients, but with lower iron levels and no saturated fats. The high protein in legumes make them a great option in place of meat and dairy products. Vegetarians often substitute legumes for meat.

Legumes are a great source of fiber and may help you have regular bowel movements. Just 1 cup (240 mL) of cooked black beans will give you 15 grams (g) of fiber, which is about half of the recommended daily amount for adults.

Legumes are packed with nutrients. They are low in calories, but make you feel full. The body uses the carbohydrates in legumes slowly, over time, providing steady energy for the body, brain, and nervous system. Eating more legumes as part of a healthy diet can help lower blood sugar, blood pressure, heart rate, and other heart disease and diabetes risks.

Beans and legumes contain antioxidants that help prevent cell damage and fight disease and aging. The fiber and other nutrients benefit the digestive system, and may even help to prevent digestive cancers.

HOW THEY ARE PREPARED

Legumes can be added to any meal, for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Once cooked, they can be eaten warm or cold.

Most dry beans (except peas and lentils) will need to be rinsed, soaked, and cooked.

You can also bring dried beans to a boil, take the pan off the burner, and let them soak for 2 hours. Soaking overnight or after boiling makes them less likely to give you gas.

To cook your beans:

To add cooked or canned beans to your diet:

To reduce the gas caused by eating beans:

WHERE TO FIND LEGUMES

Legumes may be purchased at any grocery store or online. They do not cost a lot of money and can be stored for a very long time. They come in bags (dried beans), cans (already cooked), or jars.

RECIPE

There are many delicious recipes using beans. Here is one you can try.

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Carefully drain the juice from 1 can of black beans. Pour the drained black beans into a bowl. Use a potato masher to mash the beans until they are no longer whole. Set the mashed beans aside.
  2. Chop the onion into one quarter inch pieces. Set the onions aside.
  3. Peel the garlic cloves and mince them finely. Set the garlic aside.
  4. In a medium sauce pan, heat your cooking oil over medium high heat. Add the onions and sauté for 1 to 2 minutes.
  5. Stir in the garlic and cumin and cook for 30 seconds more.
  6. Stir in the mashed black beans and the second can of black beans, including the juice.
  7. When the beans begin to boil, reduce the heat to low, stir in the salt and oregano and simmer for 10 minutes, uncovered.

Source: United States Department of Agriculture

References

Fechner A, Fenske K, Jahreis G. Effects of legume kernel fibres and citrus fibre on putative risk factors for colorectal cancer: a randomised, double-blind, crossover human intervention trial. Nutri J. 2013;12:101. PMID: 24060277 pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24060277/.

Jenkins DJA, Kendall CWC, Augustin LSA, et al. Effect of legumes as part of a low glycemic index diet on glycemic control and cardiovascular risk factors in type 2 diabetes mellitus: a randomized controlled trial. Arch Intern Med. 2012;172(21):1653-1660. PMID: 23089999 pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23089999/.

Micha R, Shulkin ML, Peñalvo JL, et al. Etiologic effects and optimal intakes of foods and nutrients for risk of cardiovascular diseases and diabetes: Systematic reviews and meta-analyses from the Nutrition and Chronic Diseases Expert Group (NutriCoDE). PLoS One. 2017;12(4):e0175149. PMID: 28448503 pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28448503/.

United States Department of Agriculture: Choose My Plate.gov website. Beans and peas are unique foods. www.choosemyplate.gov/eathealthy/vegetables/vegetables-beans-and-peas. Accessed July 1, 2020.

US Department of Agriculture and US Department of Health and Human Services. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025. 9th ed. www.dietaryguidelines.gov/sites/default/files/2020-12/Dietary_Guidelines_for_Americans_2020-2025.pdf. Updated December 2020. Accessed January 25, 2021.

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Review Date: 5/26/2020  

Reviewed By: Meagan Bridges, RD, University of Virginia Health System, Charlottesville, VA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team. Editorial update 01/25/2021.

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