Why you should love legumes
Rich in all sorts of nutritional goodies, legumes may be the special ingredient missing from your diet.
Looking for meals that are not only tastier, but healthier too? Put beans, lentils, pulses and other legumes on your shopping list.
What exactly are legumes?
Legumes are any fruits or seeds that generally grow in pod form.
Rich in iron, protein, dietary fibre and low in sodium and saturated fat, they also contain prebiotic carbohydrates, which is good for bacteria in the gut.
Contain magnesium and potassium and are rich in phosphorus and calcium.
One of the highest sources of plant-based protein, they also improve blood vessel performance, lower cholesterol and make you feel fuller for longer.
Have healthy unsaturated fats and fibre and have been linked to lower rates of heart disease.
Kidney, pinto and black beans are just some of the beans in the legume family, but all contain no fat, are nutrient rich and have plenty of protein, fibre, folate, iron, potassium and magnesium.
There are plenty of reasons to add legumes to your weekly eating plan. Here’s why:
Legumes are packed with nutrients
Grains and Legumes Nutrition Council dietitian Jaimee Hughes says legumes are rich in iron, zinc, calcium and magnesium.
“Many studies have shown that legumes offer significant health benefits, including protection against chronic diseases and helping to maintain good gut health,” Jaimee says.
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Legumes are animal-friendly
Rich in protein, legumes make an ideal ingredient for vegetarian dishes, according to dietitian Lisa Renn.
“They’re great for people who follow a vegetarian diet, but they can also be used as a way of increasing the plant sources and decreasing the meat served in a meal,” Lisa, of Dietitians Australia, says.
“You can throw in a tin of beans in with the meat and that meal will be healthier and will go further.”
Legumes are good for the environment
With a big focus on sustainable living legumes will likely play a big role in people’s diets moving forward.
Producing them is far less harmful to the planet than rearing animals for consumption.
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Legumes are great for satiety
Legumes are dense and make you feel fuller, making them great for managing your weight.
“Legumes have been shown to help maintain weight after a number of studies found that those who regularly ate beans had a lower body weight and smaller waist size compared to people who didn’t,” Jaimee says.
“This is partly down to legumes being rich in slowly digestible carbohydrates, dietary fibre and protein, all of which may help to promote satiety and keep us feeling fuller for longer.”
Legumes are better for your budget
Legumes are extremely cheap, making them good for your hip pocket.
You can pick up most dried lentil and bean varieties from the supermarket for somewhere between $2 and $3 for 500g.
“The most common legume in the typical Australian diet is baked beans. It’s a quick and healthy meal that’s easy on your wallet,” Lisa says.
“Where people are struggling with money and don’t want to be spending as much on meat, legumes are an affordable option.”
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Written by Alex White.