Legumes are plants that are produced for use of their seeds and are simply dried fruit that is encased in a pod or shed. Beans, nuts, peas, and lentils all fall under the umbrella of legumes. Legumes are favored by vegetarian diets as legumes make wonderful substitutes to the consumption of red meat that both replaces the protein and also boosts fiber intake. Nutritional Benefits
Legumes are wonderful sources of protein, dietary fiber, carbohydrates, fat, and micronutrients including folate, iron, manganese, thiamin, calcium and magnesium. The consumption of legumes can help aid in cancer prevention and heart disease. Types of Legumes
- Beans - Beans are the most popular variety of legumes. There are a wide variety of beans, including black beans, kidney beans, lima beans, and fava beans just to name a few. Beans are incredibly high in protein and carbs, yet are low in fat.
- Nuts - Legumes, such as the peanut, soy nut, and carob nut, are misclassified as nuts. These legumes are high in carbohydrates, fat, and protein.
- Peas - Legumes that are known as peas include green peas, snap peas, snow peas, black-eyed peas and split peas. Peas are high in protein and carbohydrates but are lower in fat.
- Lentils - Legumes that are nuts, beans, and peas that are spherically shaped. Lentils on the other hand have a round flat profile that does not change from variety to variety. Lentils are high in carbohydrates and protein, but low in fat content.
Legumes can be purchased dried, canned, or even frozen. Besides salt content, there is not much of a nutritional difference between dried and canned legumes.
Revised August 30th, 2015
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- Dried: An inexpensive option, dried beans come in bulk. The most common method for preparing dried legumes is soaking them in water for a few hours and then cooking them by boiling.
- Canned: Most canned legumes are ready to eat out of the can. Just watch out for canned legumes that are high in salt.