Legumes are a group of plants which produce beans, peas, peanuts and lentils. Usually we find them mixed in with salads and soups, but they can make nutritious additions to most dishes, and they contain a wealth of healthy attributes. They are an excellent source of a range of nutrients and in this blog we’ll look at the top 8 legumes, what they’re good for and why you should be adding them to your diet.
1. Kidney beans
Kidney beans are usually associated with chilli, but if you limit their use to just Mexican night, you’re missing out. Kidney beans are packed with good stuff, including 98% of your RDA folic acid for cell formation, 47% of your RDA of copper, for enzymes and blood formation and 35% of your RDA of vitamin B1 for cell function all in 100g of beans. Add to that 23g of protein per 100g and you’re getting much more from kidney beans than you thought.
Pinto beans are becoming more popular in salads and soups as people look for ways to improve texture and flavour in food. Pinto beans are also full to bursting with good nutrients. One hundred grams of pinto beans contains 24% of vitamin B6, essential for energy metabolism, as well as 40% of your daily selenium, making them great for antioxidants.
3. Blackeyed peas
Blackeyed peas are often used in the cooking of curry dishes, adding essential protein and nutrients to meals. They contain 23g of protein in each 100g serving, which is the same level of protein as beef. They also pack in 46% of your daily magnesium and 31% potassium, both important for nerve impulses.
Lentils are usually discussed as a superfood, and this is certainly a reputation based on fact. Lentils are high protein, low fat and packed with vitamins and minerals. One hundred grams contains your RDA of fibre, great for digestion, and also adds antioxidants and zinc, which is essential for testosterone formation. For more on lentils, click here.
5. Mung beans
Chickpeas are a staple in Indian cookery, often used in vegetarian dishes in place of meats. They are a highly nutritious legume, packed with excellent levels of copper, iron, manganese, phosphorus, potassium and zinc. They are also exceptionally high in folic acid, so they are a good choice for pregnant and lactating women. Chickpeas are also high in carbohydrates, giving much needed energy as well as complete protein.
8. Lima beans
Lima beans are a complete protein source, full with all the essential amino acids. They also contain 21g of protein per 100g of legume, which is close to the amount of protein in chicken. Like other legumes they are filled with good vitamin and mineral levels, particularly in antioxidants, vitamin B6 and vitamin K, good for blood clotting.
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