Categories: Seeds

6 Benefits of legumes and side effects

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Discover the 6 Benefits of legumes and side effects.

There’s a good chance you’ve heard of them and an even higher chance you’ve had them on your plate at one point or another. But what exactly are legumes and what are the benefits of legumes?

These vegetables contain fiber and protein, as well as a variety of vitamins and minerals. They are low in calories and a staple in vegetarian and vegan diets around the world.6 Benefits of legumes


However, legumes have been fraught with controversy because they contain compounds called antinutrients, which interfere with nutrient absorption.

Fortunately, some methods can be used to minimize the effects of these antinutrients, allowing you to reap the full benefits and nutrition of this versatile ingredient.

What are legumes?

So what are legumes? According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of  legumes is:  ”  the fruit or seed of plants of the legume family (such as peas or beans) that are used for food.”

This definition of legumes encompasses the fruit or seed of any plant in the family   Fabaceae.

This makes it a bit tricky to define exactly what legumes are, as this family of plants includes 19,500 different species.


Although there are thousands of different types of legumes, some of the most common legume varieties include:





•Green beans

•White beans



•Garbanzo beans


Note that peanuts are the only nut variety included in this list, this is because, unlike other types of nuts, peanuts grow underground and belong to the plant  family Fabaceae.

Legumes have long been a staple food in many cultures, with some evidence showing that they began to rapidly diversify into different species between 2 and 4 million years ago in the Andes.

Even today, however, beans and legumes are essential dietary components throughout the world.

From South America to Asia and beyond, millions of people rely on the affordability, convenience, and nutritional density of legumes every day.

Benefits of legumes

1.- High in protein

So, what are they for and what are the benefits of legumes? For starters, most legumes are packed with protein and are considered one of the best plant-based sources of protein.

Chickpeas and navy beans, for example, contain 15 grams of protein per one-cup serving, while navy beans contain 19 grams of protein for the same amount.


Protein is a crucial part of the diet and critical for cell function and muscle growth.

For this reason, legumes become especially important in vegan and vegetarian diets and are often used as a basic protein source.

When it comes to weight loss, eating enough protein can also encourage feelings of fullness and keep you full while increasing your metabolism and the number of calories you burn after a meal.

Including just one serving of legumes in your daily diet can be a great way to help you meet your protein needs.

2.- Promote regularity

In addition to their impressive protein content, legumes also contain a hearty dose of dietary fiber.

One cup of cooked lentils, for example, contains 16 grams of fiber, or up to 64 percent of the recommended daily value.

When you eat fiber, it moves through your digestive tract slowly and adds bulk to your stool to help it pass.

This is especially beneficial when it comes to constipation; In fact, increasing your fiber intake is one of the first lines of defense to help get things moving.


An analysis published in 2012 looked at five different studies and found that increasing dietary fiber intake could significantly increase stool frequency in participants with constipation.

However, it’s important to note that you should increase your fiber intake slowly and be sure to drink plenty of water as well. Sudden increases in fiber intake can cause unpleasant symptoms like gas, cramps, or bloating.

3.- Help in weight loss

If you’re looking to lose a few pounds, you may want to consider adding a few servings of legumes to your diet.

Legumes are not only rich in fiber and protein, they can help promote satiety and stave off hunger, but legume consumption has also been linked to weight loss.

One published study followed  1,475 participants over eight years. The researchers found that those who ate beans regularly had lower body weight, smaller waist size, and a 22 percent lower risk of obesity.

Legumes are also very nutrient-dense foods, meaning they are low in calories but pack tons of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients in every serving. This makes it easy to optimize the calories you are consuming on a weight loss diet.

4.- Boost heart health

The heart is one of the most important organs in the body; it pumps blood to all the tissues in your body, providing them with the oxygen and nutrients they need to function and thrive.

Naturally, protecting your heart health is critical, as heart disease is the most common cause of death worldwide.


Along with a healthy diet and active lifestyle, adding a serving or two of legumes to your plate every day can have a big impact on your heart health.

A 2011 study showed that a diet rich in the benefits of legumes can lower both total and bad LDL cholesterol.

Another study found that eating legumes were associated with a lower risk of heart disease.

Other research has found additional heart benefits for legumes, such as lowering triglycerides, blood pressure, and inflammation.

5.- Contains important vitamins and minerals

Besides being rich in protein and fiber, legumes are also packed with vitamins and minerals.

Most legume varieties are rich in micronutrients such as folic acid, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, and potassium.

A cup of lentils, for example, provides 90 percent of your daily folate needs and 37 percent of the iron you need in a day.


For this reason, legumes are a great way to supplement a diet that may be lacking in certain nutrients.


Vegetarians and vegans, for example, can especially benefit from increased legume intake to ensure their needs for these important micronutrients are met.

6.- Stabilize blood sugar

So what are legumes good for besides providing a concentrated dose of protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals? improve heart health; prevent constipation; and help you drop a few pounds.

In addition to all the impressive health benefits mentioned above, legumes are also great for regulating blood sugar. The high amount of fiber found in legumes works to slow the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream and maintain blood sugar levels.

A 2014 study with more than 2,000 participants found that blood sugar levels, among other factors, were lower in those who ate legumes regularly compared to those who didn’t.

Along with low-glycemic fruits, non-starchy vegetables, and a good source of protein, legumes can be a healthy addition to your diet and can help keep your blood sugar stable.

Side effects of legumes

Although legumes are loaded with health benefits, there are also some drawbacks to including them in your diet that should be considered.

Legumes contain “antinutrients” or compounds that can interfere with the absorption of important micronutrients like iron and calcium.

The most prevalent antinutrient found in legumes is phytic acid, the main storage form of phosphorus, which is found in foods such as grains, legumes, and nuts. The problem is that phytic acid can bind and prevent the absorption of certain minerals, such as iron, zinc, calcium, magnesium, and manganese; Over time, this can cause nutrient deficiencies for people who frequently eat legumes. However, keep in mind that it is much more likely to affect vegetarians than meat-eaters, in fact, nutrient deficiencies as a result of phytic acid only affect those with a diet consisting primarily of grains, legumes, and cereals.


Lectins are another type of antinutrient found in legumes. Lectins resist digestion and can even damage the lining of the gastrointestinal tract.

Fortunately, by practicing proper preparation techniques, the harmful effects of antinutrients found in legumes can be minimized.

The best way to eat and access the benefits of legumes

To get the most out of the health-promoting effects of legumes, proper preparation is key. Certain cooking methods can reduce the negative effects of antinutrients while improving the nutritional profile.

Sprouting is a process that involves soaking legumes for between eight and 24 hours and then straining them and leaving them to sprout; Sprout not only helps reduce phytic acid but can also increase the amount of other beneficial nutrients.

A 2015 study showed that cowpea sprouts reduced phytic acid four to 16 times. It also increased the amount of protein by 9 to 12 percent, increased vitamin C by four to 38 times, and improved protein digestibility by 8 to 20 percent.

Fermentation is another process that can significantly improve the nutritional quality of legumes. This usually involves combining seeds with yeast and acid to create healthy bacteria that can help break down hard-to-digest foods in the GI tract; Studies show that fermenting legumes can make proteins easier to digest and can reduce the amount of phytic acid found in food.

By soaking, sprouting, and fermenting your legumes, you can ensure that you are optimizing the nutritional content of your legumes, increasing absorption, and preventing potential negative side effects.

What should be eaten to access the benefits of legumes?

Beans, lentils, and peas are the main classes of legumes and are relatively comparable when it comes to nutrition.


Keep in mind, however, that some forms of these legumes may be healthier than others. When comparing dry versus canned beans, for example, canned beans tend to be loaded with excess sodium and aren’t exactly heart-healthy.

While dried legumes are preferable, they may take longer to prepare and may not be as convenient or efficient. If you opt for canned varieties of legumes, make sure they’re labeled “low sodium” and be sure to rinse off any extra salt before serving.

Most types of legumes are safe to eat and generally do not pose a health risk. However, eating raw or uncooked beans can be very dangerous.

Beans in particular contain phytohemagglutinin, a type of lectin that can be toxic when consumed in large amounts. There have been many reported cases of phytohemagglutinin poisoning as a result of eating raw or undercooked beans.

Fortunately, cooking inactivates phytohemagglutinin and negates its toxic properties. For this reason, it’s important to avoid raw beans and stick to beans that have been properly cooked and prepared.

How much should you eat?

Although legumes are a staple food in many parts of the world, they are not as common in the United States. In fact, despite the many health benefits of legumes, only an estimated 8 percent of Americans eat legumes on any given day.

While there are no clear recommendations on how much legumes you should eat, incorporating a few servings into your diet each week can have beneficial effects on your health.

Vegetarians may want to consider increasing this amount and including sprouted or fermented legumes more regularly in their diets to help meet fiber and micronutrient needs.


However, for most people, throwing in a few cups of peas, beans, or lentils can help fill in the gaps in a healthy diet.

Here are some nutritious recipes that can help you increase your intake of legumes:

•Sprouted Chickpea Burgers

•Crunchy Vegetable and Alfalfa Sprout Wraps

Sprouted Lentil Salad with Farro and Raw Vegetables

Precautions about legumes

Legumes are a tasty and nutritious addition to the diet for most people. However, some people may want to limit their intake.

For those following a Paleo diet,  legumes are on the list of foods to avoid due to their phytic acid content.

Also, because legumes contain a good portion of carbohydrates, people with diabetes need to consider what else is on the menu when including legumes in their diets. Combine legumes with non-starchy vegetables, low-glycemic fruits, and lean protein sources for a balanced meal that stabilizes blood sugar.


Some people may also be allergic to certain types of legumes. Peanuts, for example, are a common allergen and can cause symptoms such as hives, wheezing, and even a tightening of the throat. If you experience any negative symptoms after eating legumes, be sure to discontinue consumption and see your doctor immediately.

Finally, be sure to increase your legume intake slowly and drink plenty of water. Increasing your fiber intake too quickly can cause symptoms like cramps, gas, and bloating.

Final thoughts on Legumes

What are legumes? They are an incredibly diverse group of foods with different nutrient profiles, flavors, and uses. This makes it difficult to define what legumes are because there are thousands of different species grown around the world.

While legumes boast a wide range of health benefits, they also contain compounds like phytic acid that can impair the absorption of certain minerals.

However, by practicing proper preparation, the negative effects of phytic acid can be easily minimized.

While increasing your legume intake may not be for everyone, including legumes as part of a nutritious diet can provide many essential nutrients and may be beneficial to your health.

What are they for and what are the benefits of legumes? The top six benefits of legumes are:

•Being high in protein


•promote regularity

•Helping in weight loss

•Boosting heart health

•Providing important vitamins and minerals

•stabilize blood sugar.


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