Legumes: The Nutritional Powerhouse
Legumes are a nutritional powerhouse for our bodies. They’re also inexpensive, easy to find in grocery stores, and flexible enough to be cooked in a variety of dishes. Look below as we take a deep dive on legumes and how they affect our body.
What Are Legumes?
Legumes belong to the Leguminosae family. The terms “legumes,“ and “beans” are used interchangeably, but legumes technically mean the entire plant (including the leaves, stems, and pods).
Examples of legumes include:
- Adzuki beans (aka red beans)
- Black-eyed peas
- Garbanzo beans (aka chickpeas)
What Are the Health Benefits of Legumes?
Provide Key Nutrients
Legumes are some of the most nutritious foods you can eat. They contain protein, fiber, B vitamins, iron, folate, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, and zinc. They’re also low in fat and calories.
Powerful in Antioxidants
Beans and legumes [contain] antioxidants that help prevent cell damage. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, antioxidants can prevent or delay cellular damage, and people who eat an antioxidant-rich diet have a lower risk of several diseases — including cardiovascular disease, stroke, and cancer.
Promote a Healthy Heart
Because of the saturated fat content, it would be a wise idea to limit intake of red meat (like beef, lamb, and pork) according to the American Heart Association.
Lentils and beans are great substitutes that not only help you reduce your meat intake, but to gain more of those heart-healthy benefits. According to past research, eating legumes can lower blood pressure and inflammation, which are two risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
Whether you’re following a plant-based diet or not, it’s worth making sure legumes have a place in your meals. They’re incredibly versatile, inexpensive, nutritious, and make a great substitute for meat. From lentils to peas to beans, you’re bound to find several you like.