Legumes (also known as pulses) include a variety of beans, peas, lentils, and chickpeas. They’re often used as a substitute for meat, due to their high protein content. Most legumes are nutritional powerhouses. They’re low in fat with zero cholesterol, are a good source of fiber, and also provide minerals such as potassium, iron, and magnesium.
Because legumes are so nutrient-dense, they are especially a great option for vegetarians, who often lack protein and iron in their diet. Since they’re affordable, it’s a great way to stretch a meal and make it go further. The fiber content means that you feel more satisfied after a meal, so you’re likely to eat less. It also serves as food for your ‘good’ gut bacteria!
Canned baked beans are a favorite in many homes. They’re relatively low in calories, but look out for low-sodium and low-sugar versions. They’re delicious on toast, but if you suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), you may feel gassy afterwards!
Black beans are high in protein and fiber, along with minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and zinc. They work great in dishes with ground beef or shredded chicken. If you enjoy Mexican food, then you’ll love adding these to tacos and enchiladas!
Besides being nutrient-dense, lentils are very cheap. So if you have a tight budget, it’s a great addition to stews, casseroles, and salads. Basically, any dish that needs to be stretched! Furthermore, they’re low in fat but high in protein, minerals, and vitamins.
Unlike the other legumes we’re discussing, peanuts are high in calories. But luckily, they’re also high in protein and fiber. To get the health benefits of peanuts, without wrecking your waistline, aim to eat only about a handful each day. You can also add them to stir-fries or curries as a crunchy element.
Besides being a source of protein, red kidney beans are also rich in vitamins, minerals, and fiber. If you buy raw kidney beans, make sure to cook them thoroughly. They contain a compound called phytohaemagglutinin which, if not destroyed by sufficient cooking, can cause nausea and vomiting.
Chickpeas are high in fiber and protein, but also provide minerals such as iron, magnesium, calcium, and zinc. They’re especially popular for their use in hummus, but taste great in curries too. Because raw chickpeas take such a long time to cook, many people opt for the canned variety.
Now that you know a little more about legumes, which one will you be eating more of?