The benefits of eating legumes are quite impressive, and there are plenty of leguminous foods to eat. Legumes are seeds or fruits of crops that belong to the legume family. This class of food includes the seeds or fruits of plants in the Fabaceae family as well.
Having a precise definition for legumes may be tricky, as there are nearly 20 000 species in this family. For your general understanding, let’s see the commonest varieties of legumes you’re likely to find in stores:
- Adzuki beans
- Black beans
- Black-eyed peas
- Green beans
- Kidney beans
- Mung beans
- Navy beans
- Pinto beans
- Split beans
- White beans
NB: Peanuts are the only species of nut mentioned in this list. This is because they grow underground & are a member of the Fabaceae family. So, peanuts are not nuts but legumes. Take note.
Legumes have, for thousands of years, served as a dietary staple in numerous cultures. In fact, there are reports that legumes started developing into various species as far back as 3 million years ago. Today, legumes are an essential dietary presence around the world. From Asia to Europe to South America & beyond, hundreds of millions of people rely on the nutritional value, affordability, and convenience.
5 Benefits of Eating Legumes
Rich Source of Protein
For a start, legumes contain a rich amount of amino acids and are considered excellent plant-based protein sources. For example, navy beans & chickpeas contain 15 grams of protein per one small-cup serving. Also, white beans boast 19 grams of plant protein for the same quantity.
Protein is regarded as an essential part of every diet. It is important for muscle growth & cellular function. For this reason, vegans & vegetarians are highly advised to eat legumes. They are also commonly used as sources of staple protein.
Protein also encourages weight-loss. This is because it promotes satiety and fills your stomach without eating much, while it also improves metabolism & increases the count of calories burnt after a meal. A single serving of legumes daily is a good way to satisfy your protein needs.
Coupled with their remarkable protein levels, leguminous foods are rich in fiber, encouraging healthy cholesterol levels & overall cardiovascular health. For instance, a cooked cup of lentils provides the body with 16 grams of fiber, about 64% of the daily recommended intake.
When eaten, fiber travels slowly through the digestive tract & increases the bulkiness of the stool to ease passage, thus helping to relieve constipation. In fact, one of the best lines of defense is to increase your daily fiber intake.
An analysis of 5 different researches found that increased dietary fiber consumption helped relieve stools passage and increase passage in persons with participants.
In addition to increased fiber consumption, drink a lot of water accordingly. Increasing your fiber intake suddenly can lead to distasteful symptoms like cramps, bloating, or gassiness.
If you’re interested in shedding some fat, adding extra servings of legumes to your weekly diet may be an excellent consideration. This is because legumes are not only rich in protein & fiber, which help to promote satiety & avoid hunger, but they are also linked with obesity prevention & improved weight management.
A study reported in the reputable Journal of the American College of Nutrition covered eight years of 1 485 participants. Over this period, researchers revealed that the people who ate beans more than others had smaller waist sizes, lower body weights & a 22% reduced risk of obesity.
This is understandable given that legumes are very rich in nutrients yet low in calories. In each serving of legumes, you take in tons of nutrients, vitamins & minerals. This eases absorption in the part of the body.
Regulates Levels of Cholesterol & Supports Cardiovascular Health
Even without saying, we know that the heart is one of the most essential body organs. It pumps blood to see to the body tissues and supplies them with oxygen & nutrients needed to function & thrive.
Eaten regularly with a healthy diet & agile lifestyle, one or two servings of legumes daily, can positively impact the heart. For instance, the contributions of pulses and beans to reduced total cholesterol and bad LDL cholesterol have been repeatedly proven.
Many popular healthy diets, including the Mediterranean and DASH plans, preach increased consumption of plant-based meals like lentils and beans, thanks to their ability to enhance blood pressure, glycemic control, body mass index & cholesterol levels.
A study conducted in 2017 published by BioMed Research International established that regular eating of legumes is linked to a reduced risk of cardiac diseases. Other studies indicate that there are other healthy perks of legumes consumption, such as decreasing inflammation, blood pressure & triglycerides.
A 2017 meta-analysis revealed that beans protect the heart against diseases since it is a healthy alternative to unhealthy protein, sourced from processed meats and foods.
Helps To Regulate Blood Sugar
Leguminous foods are great at stabilizing your blood sugar & have been proven by studies to effectively reduce the risk of heart illnesses, type 2 diabetes, stroke & high blood pressure. The rich amount of fiber provided by legumes reduces how the body absorbs sugar, thus regularizing normal levels of blood sugar & improving insulin sensitivity.
A 2014 research involving over 2000 participants realized that amongst several factors, the level of blood sugar was lower in people who ate legumes more often than those who didn’t. Coupled with non-starchy veggies, good sources of protein & low-glycemic foods, legumes can be an excellent addition to any diet and keep blood sugars stabilized.
Concluding The Benefits of Eating Legumes
The benefits of eating legumes are remarkable. They stabilize blood sugar, improve heart health, help weight-loss, encourage regularity & are a good protein source. These aside, legumes have been found helpful in combating cancers, thanks to the phenolic compounds & resistant starch that promote the growth of healthy bacteria that tackle cancer & other chronic diseases.