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Make Luscious Legumes Part of Your Healthy Diet: Legumes can be consumed in a variety of ways, from snacks to side dishes to main courses.

The little legume is a big part of diets around the world, and for good reason. These important plant-based proteins are packed with nutrients that offer many health benefits. But legumes are rich in flavor, too, making them the perfect ingredient for many meals and snacks.

What Are Legumes?

Legumes are plants that grow in pods. Examples include soybeans, peanuts, green beans, and fresh (not dried) peas, Edible seeds that grow within a pod and are then dried are called pulses, a type of legume. This category includes dry beans (such as black, kidney, or navy beans), dry peas (such as split green, split yellow, or whole yellow), lentils (such as green, red, or black), and chickpeas (also called garbanzo beans).

Packed with Punch

Legumes are excellent sources of protein, which is crucial for muscle and skin health, and many bodily functions. That's why legumes are a mainstay of meat-free diets, which are associated with a lower risk for developing heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. They also are rich in fiber, B vitamins (which are crucial for brain, muscle, and skin health), and many important minerals, such as iron, calcium, phosphorus, zinc, and magnesium.

Legumes also are low in saturated fat (too much can contribute to heart disease). And while legumes are higher than other vegetables in carbohydrates, their high fiber content takes longer to burn, so they won't spike your blood sugar.

Pulses are low in fat and high in fiber. For example, a cup of canned, low-sodium black beans contains almost 17 grams of fiber, less than a gram of fat, 14 grams of protein, 40 carbs, less than a gram of sugar, and just 200 calories.

Fitting Legumes Into Your Diet

Enjoy a side of fresh green beans with dinner, a bean, lentil, or pea soup, a spicy three-bean chili (kidney, black, and pinto beans), hearty black beans and rice, mashed chickpeas for hummus, or roasted chickpeas for a crunchy snack. Add beans to tacos, omelets, salads, salsa, soups, stews, and pasta.


1 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium sweet onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups pearl barley
4 cups reduced-sodium vegetable broth
1 medium zucchini, chopped
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved


1 (19-oz) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 (9-oz) can lentils, rinsed and drained
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
10 sprigs fresh dill, chopped
Reduced-fat feta cheese for garnish (optional)


Place oil in large saucepan over medium-high heat.
Saute onion and garlic in olive oil for 2 minutes,
stirring frequently. Add barley: cook an additional
2 minutes. Stir in vegetable broth and bring to a
boil. Cover pan, reduce heat, let simmer for 30 to 35
minutes or until barley has soaked up most of the
liquid. Stir in zucchini, tomatoes, chickpeas, lentils,
salt, and pepper. Cover and cook 5 minutes. Stir in
dill, sprinkle with feta cheese, if desired, and serve
warm. This dish is also delicious cold.

Nutrition Information Per Serving: 284 calories, 4 g
total fat, 0.5 g sat fat, 13 g protein, 50 g carbs, 7 g fiber,
3 g cholesterol, 234 mg sodium
(g=grams; mg=milligrams, sat fat=saturated fat, carbs=carbohydrates)

Source: Recipe and pboto courtesy of Pulse Canada

Caption: Legumes, which include soybeans, peanuts, green beans, and peas, boost heart health, among other benefits.
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Publication:Women's Nutrition Connection
Article Type:Recipe
Date:Aug 27, 2019
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