Legumes are the edible seeds of legume plants that are harvested for consumption. Dried beans, lentils, and peas are the most commonly known and consumed types of legumes.
They are present in different cuisines around the world, from hummus in the Mediterranean (chickpeas), to a traditional English breakfast (white beans) or Indian dal (peas or lentils).
Legumes do not include crops that are harvested green, such as green peas or green beans, as these are classified as vegetables. Also excluded are crops used mainly for oil extraction, such as soybeans or peanuts, and leguminous crops that are used exclusively for sowing purposes (clover and alfalfa seeds).
Why is it important to grow legumes?
Legumes contain many nutrients and are high in protein, making them an ideal source of protein, particularly in regions where meat and dairy are not very accessible, either physically or economically. Legumes are also low in fat and rich in fiber, which means they can lower cholesterol and help control blood sugar. For all these qualities, health organizations recommend its consumption to deal with non-communicable diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease. Legumes have also been shown to help fight obesity.
For farmers, pulses are a very beneficial crop because they can sell and consume them, which helps them maintain food security in their homes, while generating economic stability.
10 REASONS TO CONSUME PULSES
- In its natural state, legumes are low in fat and have no cholesterol, which can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Legumes are also low in sodium. Sodium chloride – or salt – contributes to hypertension and can be avoided by eating low-sodium foods like legumes.
- They are an excellent source of plant-based protein. Surprisingly, 100 grams of raw lentils contain a not inconsiderable 25 grams of protein! During cooking, legumes absorb a large amount of water: the protein content of cooked lentils is reduced by around 8 percent. However, you can increase the protein quality of cooked legumes simply by combining them with cereals, for example lentils with rice.
- These little seeds are a good source of iron. Iron deficiency is considered one of the most common forms of malnutrition and is one of the most common types of anemia. To improve the absorption of iron, it is recommended to combine legumes with foods that contain vitamin C (for example, adding lemon juice to lentil curry).
- Legumes are rich in potassium, a nutrient that contributes to the functioning of the heart and plays an important role in digestive and muscle functions.
- Legumes are often considered one of the main foods rich in fiber, necessary to improve digestive health and help reduce the risks of cardiovascular disease.
- Legumes are an excellent source of folate: a B vitamin that occurs naturally in many foods, essential for the function of the nervous system and especially important during pregnancy to prevent abnormalities in the fetus.
- Legumes can be stored for a long time and therefore can help diversify diets, especially in developing countries.
- Legumes are low glycemic index foods. They help stabilize blood sugar and insulin levels, making them suitable foods for people with diabetes and ideal for weight control.
- Finally, legumes do not contain gluten in their natural state. This makes them an ideal option for celiacs.