Legumes For Health
Legumes, also known as pulses, are a group of plant food, which include dried peas, beans and lentils. They are the seeds that grow inside pods. Packed with nutrients, legumes are very healthy, and are a staple of most vegetarian cuisines.Legumes come in lots of colors and sizes. There are different popular names for some varieties. For example, chick peas are also known as garbanzo beans or dhall beans. Other types of legumes include lima beans and navy beans (usually the type used for baked beans). Aside from beans, peas and lentils are other examples of legumes.
Most legumes are cooked basically the same way and their flavors are similar, so they are usually interchangeable in recipes.
Legumes And Your Health
Nutritionists recommend several servings of legumes per week because they are nutrient-dense. You’ll find protein, iron, potassium, selenium, magnesium, zinc, B vitamins and fibre in them. Legumes are also cholesterol-free, low in fat and most importantly, cheap enough for you to have it in your meals everyday!
- Legumes are great source of B vitamins, thiamin and niacin, essential in metabolizing carbohydrates to release energy in the body. As much as 40% of the RDA for thiamin can be obtained from a single serving of cooked beans. Likewise, a half-cup of cooked lentils or white beans supplies nearly a third of the RDA of iron.
- Aiming for lower cholesterol levels? Legumes are full with soluble fibre, and when they pass through the digestive tract, they absorb cholesterol-heavy bile, removing it from the body before it’s absorbed. According to Patti Bazel Weil R.D., nutrition educator at the University of Kentucky in Lexington and author of Magic Beans, eating a cup of cooked beans a day can lower your total cholesterol by up to 10% in six weeks. Although that may not seem like much, it actually decreases your risk of heart disease by 20%.
- The insoluble fibre in legumes also acts like a broom that sweeps through your digestive tract and adds roughage. So if you suffer from constipation, legumes will help alleviate your discomfort.
- People with diabetes can savor the full benefits of beans, as they contain complex carbohydrates and lots of fibre that helps keep blood sugar on an even keel. It is also a good way to add variety to gluten-free diets.
- If you’re going on a diet, then be sure to include legumes in your meals. As beans absorbs moisture and increase in bulk, the dieter feels satisfied faster than with other foods. The fibre content of the bean produces a larger volume per calorie than a majority of other foods. Eating less and feeling full sooner means eating fewer calories.
- If you work out often, consider this: red kidney beans, pinto and black beans are included in the US Dept of Agriculture’s list of the 20 best ‘muscle-saving’ foods. New research suggests that muscle soreness after strenuous and prolonged exercise can be reduced by eating foods that contain antioxidants found in beans.
Legumes For Lunch And Dinner, Why Not Breakfast Too!
Now that you know about the amazing benefits of consuming more legumes, here’s how to include them in each and every meal.
- Choose legumes of a uniform size so that they cook more evenly. Check that the legumes are not cracked or moldy.
- Buy legumes with a deep color. Legumes fade and lose some of their flavor when they are stored for a long time.
- Stir-fry extra-firm of firm tofu rather than meat in oriental dishes. Freezing and then thawing tofu before use gives it a firmer, chewier texture.
- Place dried legumes away from heat, light and moisture. They keep well in an airtight container or sealed plastic bag.
- Store canned legumes in a cool, dry place. Canned products are convenient, but they may be high in sodium and less tasty than the dried varieties.
- Rinse legumes before use.
- Soak large, dried legumes (such as beans and chick peas) in room-temperature water overnight to rehydrate them before cooking. The longer they soak, the softer they become.
- Use pureed beans as the basis for dips and spreads.
- Small tins of baked beans make a great snack, a delicious breakfast served on toast or a great addition to a toasted sandwich.