Legumes are one of the main and most affordable sources of plant-based protein and amino acids, they provide fiber, iron, potassium, antioxidants and folic acid, and their fat content is low.
On December 20, 2018, the United Nations (UN) officially declared February 10 of each year as World Pulses Day , thanks to a motion promoted by Burkina Faso and that was unanimously approved at the General Assembly of the organization.
So, this food will be taken into account for the first time in the international calendar, but why now? Legumes are one of the main and most affordable sources of plant-based protein and amino acids , they provide a large amount of fiber, iron, potassium, antioxidants, and folate, and contain virtually no fat .
In addition, they have become a key element due to their socioeconomic role because in many countries women are the main responsible for their cultivation, strengthening their importance within rural economies. Nor should we forget its role in the sustainability of the planet , its strategic importance in world food security and, as we have mentioned, its key nutritional benefits to achieve a balanced diet and take care of our health.
‘Nutrition Declaration on Legumes’
For its part, the Spanish Nutrition Foundation has launched a ‘Nutritional Declaration on Legumes’ in which it highlights all the benefits of this food:
1. Legumes are an essential part of the traditional Mediterranean diet and it is important to recover their consumption , as has been happening since 2015, with a 7.6% increase, although still far from the recommendations. Even more, taking into account that it is a group of great nutritional interest, according to the available scientific evidence.
2. Grain legumes (lentils, peas, beans, chickpeas, etc.) have a good protein content (20-30%), a high carbohydrate content (30-60%), mostly complex, and low fat content (1-5%).
3. In addition to being an important source of proteins and complex carbohydrates , they also provide fiber, minerals (K, P, Ca, Mg, Fe, Zn, Se, Cu and Mn among others), vitamins (highlighting those of group B and E) and different bioactive compounds.
4. Their high protein content makes legumes the main source of vegetable protein. In addition, the nutritional quality of protein can be increased by supplementing protein with cereals and / or with small amounts of meat or fish.
5. They are ideal for athletes, vulnerable population groups and different physiological situations : children, adolescents, pregnant and lactating women and the elderly.
6. Due to its bioactive components, its potentially beneficial effects in the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes or cancer , as well as for healthy aging stand out.
7. They are easy to store and transport , as they do not need processing or refrigeration for their conservation.
8. Pulses are a sustainable crop with an excellent environmental profile . They need little water, are resistant to drought and frost, emit little CO2 in their production and fix nitrogen to the soil, increasing fertility.
9. Legumes do not have a fixed station , they can be part of traditional stews and spoon dishes; light and refreshing dishes, such as salads or cold creams, purees or even in appetizers such as hummus. In all its varieties and preparation possibilities, they are suitable for any intake of the day, and are a key factor in properly modulating the rest of the nutrients that we include to achieve a balanced diet.
10. The experts’ recommendation is to consume between 3 and 4 servings a week , throughout the year. Legumes are a nutritional trend and great chefs around the world use them to achieve dishes of high gastronomic value, healthy and sustainable.