9 Reasons Why Your Body Needs More Legumes

dried beans and lentils

(Healthcastle.com) Legumes are the ugly duckling of health foods- not as glamorous as berries, not as much hype as kale. Find out why you should have them every week and how to deal with the gas so you can enjoy your legumes in peace!

What are Legumes?

The legume family includes beans and peas. Some of the most common include kidney beans, black beans, cannellini beans, chickpeas/garbanzo beans, edamame (soy beans), lentils and peanuts.  

Why You Need More Legumes

  1. Soluble fibre lowers “bad” cholesterol by binding extra bile acids.
  2. High fibre and slow to digest means a nice steady blood sugar for all day energy.
  3. Great source of both types of fibre- healthy, regular poops equals a healthy digestive system.
  4. High in glutamate, the amino acid that (much like sugar) triggers our umami response that delights our taste buds and pleasure centres in our brain.
  5. Great source of plant based protein for filling meals and speedy repair from workouts
  6. Inexpensive! Compared to animal proteins, dried or even canned legumes are incredibly easy on the wallet.  Just a few dollars for a bag that will last you weeks or months.
  7. Anti-oxidants galore : quick cooking lentils, versatile black beans and red kidney beans scored highest on anti-oxidant values in a survey by the USDA of the phytonutrient values of the 100 most common plant foods.
  8. Easy to cook: most are very forgiving. Dried red lentils are a good place to start, try cooking and pureeing them to increase the protein punch of a soup.
  9. Versatile! A kitchen stocked with legumes lends itself to so many dishes. Think chili, dahl, curry, hummus, edamame, hearty soups and stews, and even tacos and salads.

What about gas?

Some of us make less of the enzyme needed to break down the oligosaccharides than others resulting in our gut bacteria doing it for us in a much more smelly manner. Here are some tricks to help you enjoy your legumes sans embarrassment.

  • Beano – supplies the enzyme needed to break it down. Take it with your bean filled meal for a happy tummy.
  • Add them slowly- start small by adding a handful to a salad here or to a curry there a few days a week. Some people finding working their way up to a bean filled meal is easier on the belly than going at it whole hog.
  • Drain the water used for soaking a few times and rinse with fresh water before adding to your dish or cooking. Some of the water soluble oligosaccharides leach in to the water, for easy washing away.

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