Many are the myths and legends that hover over legumes. In particular, there is a popular misconception that legumes are fattening, despite the fact that they are a fundamental food in the Mediterranean diet.
In other words, legumes are fundamental foods within a varied, healthy, and balanced diet, thanks to their nutritional contribution (to their nutritional richness), and to the wide diversity of benefits and properties they possess.
They, therefore, become an indispensable food that completes any dish perfectly, especially because in the kitchen they stand out for being tremendously versatile, which means that we can combine them with a wide variety of ingredients.
Nutritional benefits of legumes
This is possible thanks to the fact that they provide carbohydrates, proteins, fiber, iron, B-group vitamins, and, even if you think otherwise, almost no fat since they do not exceed 4% of their composition (with the exception, by the way, of soya, which has approximately 23 grams of lipids in 100 grams).
They provide fiber, which is extremely important for keeping our digestive system healthy, facilitating the digestion process, and fighting constipation. In addition, fiber helps reduce levels of “bad” cholesterol (LDL).
Really, how much fat do they have?
In other words, in direct relation to what we have commented on in the previous paragraph, we can indicate that legumes provide less than half of what cow’s milk does.
Or even less than half a slice of tuna. In addition, among the fatty acids that we can find in it we distinguish the linoleic acid, ideal to, for example, maintain healthy skin.
Rich in complex carbohydrates
Their calories are related to their complex carbohydrates, so legumes are indicated for diabetics, since being of slow absorption energy, they maintain balanced blood glucose levels.
High protein content
They are high in protein, although they do not have an essential amino acid called methionine (which can be compensated for by dipping some bread at the beginning of the dish).
However, they offer us a certainly essential amino acid, fundamental in the repair of tissues: lysine.
High fiber content
As we have mentioned in the previous lines, legumes are surprisingly high in fiber. For example, 100 grams of chickpeas provide around 15 grams of fiber.
Fiber is essential for the proper functioning of our intestines, helping – for example – in the prevention of constipation. In addition, it is ideal in slimming diets because it is useful for providing us with satiety, reducing our appetite.
On the other hand, we cannot forget something fundamental: fiber helps to enjoy healthy blood cholesterol levels by helping to reduce them.
Nutritional information on legumes
First of all, we must bear in mind that each legume has its own nutritional value, so the nutritional contribution of lentil will not be the same as that of a chickpea. For this reason, in the following section, we indicate what the nutritional information of some of the most commonly consumed legumes is:
Nutritional values of chickpeas
100 grams of chickpeas contribute:
- Energy: 336 kcal.
- Carbohydrates: 49.2 gr.
- Proteins: 19.3 gr.
- Fats: 6.3 gr.
- Fiber: 15 gr.
- Minerals: calcium (143 mg), potassium (1000 mg), sodium (30 mg), copper (1.02 mg), iron (6.80 mg), magnesium (122 mg), phosphorus (310 mg), zinc (2 mg), selenium (2 µg)
- Vitamins: vitamin A (21.5 µg), B1 (0.45 mg), B2 ( 0.14 mg), B3 (1.7 mg), B5 (1.59 mg), B6 (0.15 mg), vitamin C (4.1 mg), vitamin E (3.1 mg).
Nutritional values of white beans
100 grams of beans contribute:
- Energy: 242 kcal.
- Carbohydrates: 34.7 gr.
- Proteins: 23.2 gr.
- Fats: 1.6 gr.
- Fiber: 23.2 gr.
- Minerals: calcium (113 mg), potassium (1337 mg), sodium (15 mg), copper (1.02 mg), iron (6.2 mg), magnesium (140 mg), phosphorus (426 mg), zinc (2.6 mg), selenium (12.8 µg)
- Vitamins: vitamin B1 (0.50 mg), B2 ( 0.11 mg), B3 (5.28 mg), B6 (0.40 mg), B9 (112.1 µg), vitamin C (2.5 mg), vitamin E (0.21 mg).
Nutritional values of lentils
100 grams of lentils provide:
- Energy: 310 kcal.
- Carbohydrates: 48.69 gr.
- Proteins: 24.8 gr.
- Fats: 1.2 gr.
- Fiber: 9.7 gr.
- Minerals: calcium (57.29 mg), potassium (463 mg), sodium (226 mg), copper (1.02 mg), iron (6.87 mg), magnesium (74.31 mg), phosphorus (256 mg), zinc (3.9 mg), selenium (105 µg)
- Vitamins: vitamin A (13.33 µg), B1 (0.62 mg), B2 ( 0.39 mg), B3 (3 mg), B5 (1.85 mg), B6 (0.65 mg), B9 (117.1 µg), vitamin C (1.7 mg), vitamin E (0.9 mg).
Properties of the most important legumes
There is no doubt that there are many, many reasons why we should eat vegetables. As we have shown, not only are they not fattening, but they are even an almost perfect ally in slimming diets, thanks to their high fiber content.
For example, legumes provide complex carbohydrates. On the one hand, we must take into account that carbohydrates become the most basic nutrient, as well as the main source of energy for our body.
To this we must add that legumes are rich in carbohydrates that are slowly absorbed, providing us with energy little by little and not producing glucose peaks in the blood. That is why they are very suitable for people with diabetes.
They become a good ally for vegetarians and vegans, mainly because of their high protein value. In fact, they become one of the foods of vegetable origin with the greatest contribution of protein. A good example is a soy, which provides quality proteins similar to those provided by meat.
On the other hand, thanks to their contribution of fiber, not only are they allies in the case of constipation (by improving the functioning of our intestinal transit), but they also help to reduce high levels of cholesterol in the blood.
How many vegetables should we eat?
Given that it is not advisable to abuse animal proteins provided by foods such as meat or dairy (especially if these come from red meat, considered by the WHO as a food that could increase the risk of colon cancer), the truth is that legumes become a nutritionally adequate option to provide quality proteins to our diet.
In this sense, it is advisable to consume 2 to 3 portions of vegetables per week. Paying special attention to those who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet. In these cases, it is advisable to consume 5 portions of vegetables per week.
This article is published for information purposes only. It cannot and should not substitute for consultation with a Nutritionist. We advise you to consult your trusted Nutritionist.