I am a huge fan of legumes–that class of vegetable that includes things like beans, chickpeas, peas, lentils, soybeans and even peanuts. I love them because they’re versatile, tasty, cheap and very nutritious. Among other benefits, legumes are packed full of nutrients like protein, fiber, folic acid, potassium, iron, magnesium and various phytochemicals that help fight different diseases.
Although legumes are rich in protein, with the exception of soybeans, legumes are not a complete protein like meats, eggs and dairy. They can, however, be paired with complementary foods, such as grains, to ensure that the meal provides a complete source of amino acids for building protein. One of the benefits of using legumes as a protein source is they are much lower in fat compared to meat, and have the added benefit of being high in fiber and other nutrients.
There are lots of ways to incorporate more legumes into our diets. Here are just a few ideas:
- Use hummus or bean dips with whole grain crackers or pita bread (the grains help make the protein complete)
- Add beans or chickpeas to salads
- Add legumes to casseroles or stews
- Use bean or pea soups as lunches
- Use black bean salsa (click the link) as a snack or wrapped in a tortilla
- Top whole grain toast with some low-sugar baked beans for a complete protein at meals (this is a particular favorite from when I lived in Britain)
- Use edamame or snap peas as an easy and nutritious snack
For more information about legumes and ways to incorporate them into your eating plan, check out this article (click the link).
So enjoy the flavor and taste of legumes while getting all the added benefits of good nutrition.
Rachel Cope MPH, RC, CD