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Plant Power: Legumes

 

A diet that emphasizes nutrient-dense foods does so much more than provide energy, it nourishes your body and supports good overall health. There are so many countless health benefits to legumes, besides being versatile and delicious! Legumes are low in fat, contain no cholesterol and are high in folate, potassium, iron and magnesium. They are also high in fiber and protein. Some well known examples of legumes are black beans, garbanzo beans, kidney beans, lentils and green peas. There antioxidant profile make them great cancer fighting machines. The starch in legumes can help prevent  colon cancer by creating healthy bacteria that produces short chain fatty acids, which protects colon cells.

 

Legumes have quite a history tracing back to 3300BCE from the Egyptian pyramids to Swiss villages in the Stone Age and are certainly a food category that should be consumed within the modern diet. Legumes have also been known as Pulses, these Nitrogen pumping machines are used in agriculture to enrich soil and produce healthier crops for farmers worldwide due to their high Plant Protein density.

 

Legumes are a significant source of protein, dietary fiber, carbohydrates and dietary minerals; for example, a 100 gram serving of cooked chickpeas contains 18 percent of the Daily Value (DV) for protein and 30 percent DV for dietary fiber. Like other plant-based foods, legumes contain no cholesterol and little fat or sodium and are low in the glycemic index (GI) as a Carbohydrate, which means they are broken down more slowly so you feel fuller for longer. This makes them a particularly good food for weight loss plans as well as preventing and managing diabetes. This food group is at the top of the list for sources of fiber. The insoluble fiber they contain prevents constipation. They also have soluble fiber, which helps keep blood sugar balanced and lowers the amount of cholesterol in your bloodstream. Research trials found that regular consumption of high fiber, low salt and low saturated fat diet has been shown to bring reductions in blood pressure and cardiovascular diseases, and stroke.

With all of the amazing benefits of legumes be sure to get them within your daily diet and move towards more plant based whole foods. 

 

 

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Chellsey Latham, DNOM, NC, Nutritionist

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