The Nutritionist Named the Main Benefits of Legumes and Told How to Cook Them Properly

It turns out that the fruits of these plants are quite useful for the human body. Legumes are an integral part of a healthy diet. Nutritionist Svetlana Fus wrote on her Facebook page about the benefits of beans, peas, lentils, and chickpeas.

The expert noted that legumes are an excellent source of vegetarian protein. Lentils, chickpeas, and beans are the leaders in terms of their content in vegetable products. When cooked, these legumes contain 5-8 g of protein per 100 g of product. They also contain complex carbohydrates, fiber, important vitamins, especially B vitamins, and minerals.

“They have a lot of fiber, about 7-10 g per 100 g of the finished product. This is important, as many people’s diets usually contain 2 times less fiber than the daily value, which is 20-30 g for adults. It is a fiber that helps digestion, improves the elimination of toxic substances from the body, and, in combination with protein, makes you feel full. This makes it easier to maintain a healthy weight, as well as to influence the functioning of the intestinal microflora,” the nutritionist said.

Minimum calories – maximum benefits

All legumes are foods with a low glycemic index of 20-35. There’s no need to worry about fats either – legumes contain little of them, from 0.5 to 3 g per 100 g of the finished product. And they are not as high in calories as, for example, nuts. It should also be remembered that legumes are high in folic acid and iron.

Legumes also have disadvantages

The nutritionist noted that they contain phytates, substances that interfere with the absorption of mineral elements, including iron, zinc, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus.

Pulses also contain protease inhibitors, which are substances useful for the plants themselves and are designed to better preserve seeds in nature. However, they prevent proteins from being fully digested. Therefore, legume protein is absorbed by 65-70% compared to animal protein (meat, eggs), which is absorbed by 90-95%. Although vegetable proteins in the diet will not completely replace animals, they should be present on the menu.

Legumes contain galactooligosaccharides and fructans – these are dietary fibers that the human body cannot digest on its own. This is done by intestinal bacteria, which do a good job of this, but in the process of breaking down these substances, gases are released that cause bloating and burden the digestive system.

How to cook legumes

All dried legumes should be cooked by soaking them for 18 hours in the water, which should be acidified with lemon juice, and placed in a warm place. The water used for soaking should be poured out. This reduces the phytic acid content by 20-30%. For those who have legumes as their main source of protein, to reduce the negative effects of phytates (phytic acid), it is necessary to germinate legumes before eating them.

Legumes can be boiled in 2 stages

Bring to a boil, boil for 5 minutes, then drain and cover with fresh water and cook until tender. This method of cooking legumes can minimize the risk of bloating.

In addition, do not shorten the cooking time; undercooked vegetables can irritate the digestive system. Add salt at the end of cooking, when the vegetables are softened.

Be sure to choose your portion of legumes

For example, 150 g can cause a negative reaction from the intestines, but 50 g can go absolutely smoothly. If you have digestive problems, eat legumes in small quantities, properly cooked. The main thing is to find your own, taking into account their tolerance.

Legumes should not be cooked for a long time

Then they will become an easier substrate for fermentation by intestinal bacteria and contribute to greater gas production. It is better to cook only as much as you can eat at a time.

If you don’t eat enough legumes, start introducing them into your diet gradually once or twice a week in small quantities, and closely monitor your body’s reactions. Legumes that are better accepted by the body include green beans, red lentils, and green peas.

What to cook legumes with

Adding fresh herbs to legumes can also help prevent bloating. Parsley, basil, dill, marjoram, or thyme leaves can help the digestive system improve the digestion of legumes. And don’t forget to chew thoroughly.

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Written by Emma Miller

I am a registered dietitian nutritionist and own a private nutrition practice, where I provide one-on-one nutritional counseling to patients. I specialize in chronic disease prevention/ management, vegan/ vegetarian nutrition, pre-natal/ postpartum nutrition, wellness coaching, medical nutrition therapy, and weight management.

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