What are the benefits of eating legumes? The long days of incarceration caused by the pandemic have brought back popularity: times when the stoves of many homes came back on and then homemade and traditional dishes back to take care of our tables.
however, the consumption of legumes continues today far away (very far) from WHO recommendations. Bee Spain for example, according to the data of 2020, the weekly average does not reach 1.5 servings per person, while it would be advisable to include 3 to 4.
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And it’s curious, because we actually have plenty of reasons to add this kind of food to our diet… Sometimes we are fascinated by ‘the new fad’; and if spirulina † and açaí and if matcha tea what if…they grant almost miraculous superpowers, and we forget we have real treasures much closer (and for much less money) like chickpeas chickpeas, lentils, peas, broad beans…
maybe not so much glamour or vigorous marketing campaigns behind it, but it must be the few that lack these amazing seeds, an essential part of the human diet from time immemorial (the first agricultural productions date back to the period between 7000 BC and 8000 BC).
ADVANTAGE 1: FRIENDS OF HEALTH AND SCALE
- Wonderful source of protein. When we think of protein, the first thing we think of is meat, fish, eggs… But legumes are also a great source of protein (about 20-25% of their weight). “Yes, but they are not complete proteins”, you often hear. This is not true, or not: Within legumes, there are some varieties, such as chickpeas or certain beans, which themselves have these ‘complete proteins’ (the ones who contain all essential amino acids in its composition in sufficient quantities). In the case of legumes that do not have all of these amino acids, they can be combined in grain recipes so that we get all that desired protein quality.
- Low in fat and ‘zero’ cholesterol. This ensures that legumes help us control weight and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Low sodium intake. Therefore, they also help to control hypertension problems.
- Low glycemic index. They help stabilize blood sugar and insulin levels, making them ideal foods to fight diabetes problems.
- Great source of fiber and minerals. Fiber is a good ally for healthy digestion and also helps us feel full for longer.
- Gluten free. This feature also makes them a great alternative for those with celiac disease.
BENEFIT 2: FRIENDS OF ‘ZERO WASTE’
Another great advantage of legumes is their storage capacity for months without losing their nutritional or organoleptic properties. That means we can have them in the pantry all year round, regardless of the seasonality † This makes them a very practical product that we can always throw away, especially when we are talking about canned vegetables, and that rarely ends up in the trash beforehand (as often happens with fresh products).
ADVANTAGE 3: POCKET FRIENDS
If we compare their price with meat or fish, legumes are usually cheaper. Something that is especially interesting for families with fewer resources. And is that legumes allow us to prepare countless rich and healthy dishes without leaving our wallets in the attempt.
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ADVANTAGE 4: FRIENDS OF THE PLANET
- They improve soil fertility and combat global warming. Legumes have two other ‘superpowers’, in this case related to their cultivation: on the one hand, their ability to convert atmospheric nitrogen into compounds that can be used by plants, as well as their ability to release phosphorus, which is also a role. play an important role in plant nutrition. Both factors help to increase the organic matter, biomass and microbial activity in the soil, improving its structure. This, in turn, makes them less dependent on synthetic fertilizers, the overuse of which is linked to greenhouse gas emissions.
- They require much less water for their production than meat. The information about this leaves no room for doubt. For example, a kilo of lentils requires 1,250 liters of water, while a kilo of chicken requires 4,325 liters; for a kilo of lamb, 5,520 liters, and for a kilo of beef, 13,000 liters. In fact, it’s not just that they need less water; is that there are some types of legumes that can be grown even on semi-arid soil.
- Allies against climate change. As if there are few advantages, legumes have another special feature: their great genetic diversity. What this means? Well, you can select varieties that adapt best to the climate. Heat stress is one of the biggest threats to some crops and work is already underway to develop ‘improved’ varieties that can grow in environments with predicted higher temperatures.
ADVANTAGE 5: FRIENDS OF THE GEPALAT
There are cuisines whose most popular and traditional cookbook would not be understood without legumes. From beans, indispensable in many dishes in Latin America, to chickpeas, for example for the preparation of recipes such as Hummus in the Middle East, to Dalic of Indian lentils… the list is endless. In Spain they are essential for the preparation of many spoon recipes: stews † fabadas †
But the versatility that legumes offer us in the kitchen goes much further than traditional cuisine. We like to use less strong dishes; salads, appetizers…
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