It is the year of the legume and the Health Council advises us to eat legumes every day or not. Because they are healthy for us and also good for the environment. Sounds like a win-win situation. But what are legumes exactly and why are they so good? Online dietitian and writer Jonathan Klaassen explain why in this article.
What are legumes actually?
A legume is actually an umbrella term for all types of legumes that are available. And there are, fortunately, quite a lot. We can choose from 1000 species, so undoubtedly there is one that you like. Legumes are, by the way, seeds with or without casings and are divided into fresh legumes such as string beans, broad beans and peas and dried legumes such as kidney beans, kidney beans, but soy, sprout and even, you might not have expected that, peanuts! (1-2).
Legumes contain a special composition of nutrients. They do not contain many calories, can be considered as a source of carbohydrates, are rich in proteins, contain B vitamins and minerals such as iron, potassium, calcium, and magnesium. What is special is that legumes are rich in proteins, something that plant products generally have little. Legumes are therefore extremely suitable as a meat substitute for both vegetarians and non-vegetarians. Do you want to eat more vegetable? Then choose pulses and especially the soybean, because this bean contains a high protein quality (3-4).
And because each legume has its own amino acid profile, it is advisable to vary with different types. This way you get all the amino acids that your body needs, but this as an aside.
Besides that vegetables, fruit and whole grains are a good source of fiber, legumes are also very tough. Fibers perform important functions in our body. They promote bowel movements, have a positive effect on the intestines and provide a feeling of fullness. Eating legumes contributes to the total amount of fiber you need one day (5).
A lot more durable
In addition to the many useful nutrients, legumes are a lot more sustainable than animal products. They are less damaging to the environment (less water is needed), greenhouse gas emissions are less and less use is made of artificial fertilizers and pesticides. And to top it all, legumes can also be kept for longer, which means there is little waste (6-7).
We eat too little ..
Unfortunately, we do not eat enough legumes on average, much too little! Although the advice is to eat weekly legumes, we eat on average a mere 1 gram per day. That can be much better. For example, by adding legumes to salads or buying products made from soy (tempeh or bean curd), but also think of hummus, chili con carne or bean dishes (8). If you do this, you will get all kinds of nutrients that your body certainly knows how to handle. The reason why you should actually eat legumes