Legumes are some of the healthiest foods around, hands down! There are many reasons to love legumes like beans, lentils, and chickpeas:
They contain a lot of protein — You can get a pretty hefty dose of amino acids from legumes. Not all legumes contain the nine essential amino acids needed to produce muscle, but serving them with brown rice will provide the missing amino acids.
They’re low in fat — Red meat, dairy, poultry, eggs, and fish all contain fat; some more than others! Some of the proteins mentioned above are high in saturated fats. Legumes, however, are entirely plant-based, and thus have no fats. You’ll find that they’re a great choice if you are trying to reduce the fat content of your diet.
They’re great for your heart — It is a well-documented fact that beans and other legumes are a heart-smart food. After all, the darker legumes (black beans, pinto beans, etc.) contain phytochemicals that will scavenge free radicals and protect your cardiovascular system. They’re also highly effective at lowering your cholesterol.
They’re anti-cancer — If you want to protect your body against free radical damage and oxidative stress, the phytochemicals in beans can work wonders. The isoflavones in beans can help to reduce the chemicals that are associated with cancer.
They’re weight loss-friendly — For those struggling to lose weight, legumes are an amazing addition to your diet menu. Not only are they fairly low in fats and calories, but they’re high in fiber. This means that they will help to fill you up without adding too many calories to your diet, and they will stave off hunger pangs.
They’re great for your digestion — All legumes are packed with fiber, making them an awesome digestive aid. The insoluble fiber in beans will act as a scouring pad and clean all the gunk from inside your intestines, reducing your risk of indigestion, constipation, and other digestive disorders. The fiber can even help to prevent colon cancer!
They’re a diabetes-friendly food — If you want to control your blood sugar levels, beans can be your best friend. The high fiber content slows down the rate at which your body absorbs glucose, ensuring that you get a slow, steady burn of energy rather than a rush of blood sugar.
Beans do contain some carbohydrates, but thankfully they’re a fairly low-G.I. food. This means that the high fiber content will slow down the carb absorption, reducing your blood sugar levels.
Note: All foods on our G.I tables are based on 100g (3.5 oz) of product. The portion size doesn’t change the Glycemic Index value, but it does count towards the quantity of sugar (carbs) for the item; the bigger the portion the more sugar you would be consuming.
Now, it’s vital that we present the flip side, the drawbacks of eating legumes:
Headaches — Legumes, and beans specifically, have been known to trigger migraines. For those who are allergic or sensitive to beans, they can lead to bad headaches.
Gas — Beans are a naturally gassy food, and those with legume sensitivities often end up suffering from painful bloating as a result.
Hypertension — If you are taking MAO inhibitors as a treatment for depression, eating fava beans can lead to high blood pressure problems.
Gout — Beans have a fairly high purine content, which can lead to flare-ups among those suffering from gout.
Vitamin Malabsorption — Soy beans can interfere with your body’s ability to absorb Vitamins A, B12, and D.
Still, despite these few drawbacks, beans are definitely one of the healthiest foods you can eat!