Legumes: How beneficial are they?
Legumes are the basis of the pyramid of the Mediterranean and especially of the Greek diet. For Greek cuisine, legumes and, in particular,the bean soup is a cultural element as it has been the Greece’s signature dish.
The sad thing is that even if legumes are quite beneficial to our body, they are missing from our daily tables and we replace them with foods of less nutrition value. However, they are strongly coming back on stage recently.
Legumes are foods of high nutrition value, rich in protein and carbohydrates, that give us energy. Their fibre content is great and thus they aid the digestive system in working well. The legumes are overflowing with vitamins B and E, iron, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, calcium, zinc and many trace elements that help the body to function properly. Their low glycemic index makes them an excellent choice for blood sugar control.
Many studies classify legumes in foods that shield our body and protect against diseases of the cardiovascular, digestive system and cancer due to the valuable antioxidants and especially the flavonoids they contain.
Let’s look at why we have to put legumes in our diet.
- Beans are a source of soluble fiber and help reduce cholesterol. They are rich in calcium and B vitamins. They contain enough iron and hence enhance hematopoiesis and contribute to the prevention of diseases.
- For example, a cup of beans provides our body with 14 g protein, that is, the same amount we receive from 60 g chicken, fish or meat.
- Beans give a feeling of satiation and make us feel full . Thus we avoid the consumption of additional food and at the same time we significantly reduce the calories accumulated in our body.
- They contain proteins and B-complex vitamins that help the nervous system and brain function.
- Their iron content is high, so lentils are a food that is essential for both young and old and is absolutely essential to vegetarians.
- Chickpeas have protein equal to meat.
- It is a source of folic acid, vitamin B9, which is essential for cell metabolism.
- We should cook chickpeas with their peels because they contain the highest percentage of calcium and insoluble fibre.
Split peas (fava)
- Fava is an important source of magnesium that helps maintain good memory and nervous system function.
- It is rich in folic acid and manganese that protect the nervous system.
- It is a rich source of protein and is suitable for vegetarians.
The secrets for the best legume combinations
To ensure high biological value protein
- Legumes with rice, corn, bread
- Legumes with nuts
For improved iron absorption:
- Vitamin C-rich foods such as lemon juice, peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, cabbage, onions, greens, spinach, lettuce.
- White wine and vinegar
Avoid combining the following:
- With dairy or calcium-rich foods
- With wholewheat products
Culinary secrets of legumes
Put in a pot of water and add the legumes.
Gradually raise the temperature until the water reaches the boiling point.
We add the salt in half cooking time so that the peels won’t harden.
Boiling temperature is proportional to the freshness, quality and size of legumes.