Are Legumes Good Or Bad For Your Health?

Strange as it may sound but legumes in ‘certain circles’ are considered controversial. For example, there are plenty of people who keep legumes out of their diet, but there are others too who feel legumes are absolute staples in their diets. This however tends to vary from culture to culture. Before we decide on how good or bad legumes are really, it’s worth knowing that the legume family consists of plants that have pods with seeds in them. It is actually the seeds of the plants that we term as ‘legumes’. Daily edibles in legumes include peas, chickpeas, lentils, beans, soybeans, and peanuts, to name a few. Most of these differ in terms of appearances, tastes, utilities, and also nutritional benefits.  Here are some common advantages and disadvantages that you must know about, about consuming legumes.

Legume Is A Good Source Of Proteins And Fibres

A nutritional profile that no other food item can match up to, legumes are replete with healthy fibers and proteins. If you take 1 cup (198 grams) of cooked lentils, you consume 16 grams of fibers, 40 grams of carbohydrates, 18 grams of proteins, 37% of iron of the daily value, 90% of folate in DV, magnesium is around 17% and potassium 16%.

Also, about 10% of the daily dietary value of Vitamins B1, B3, B5, and B6 are taken, as much as zinc, copper, phosphorus, and manganese. Calories would be roughly around 230. Among plant-based proteins, legumes rank at the top. After all, they’re nutritious and also don’t pinch the pocket much! Let’s not forget that most developing nations are increasingly dependent on these food items.

And Those Are Actually Healthy Fibres

Healthy fibers mean soluble fibers and resistant starch, and legumes score high in both. Basically, they stay undigested and pass through the stomach and the small intestine, till they reach the colon and feed on the gut bacteria. The ill effects on the other hand constitute bloating and gas, but thankfully they form short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) like butyrate, known to promote colon health and minimize chances of colon cancer.

Also, they’re good at moderating blood sugar levels after each meal, which means insulin sensitivity is improved by several notches. What’s even better is that legumes would also help you obtain a fuller feeling.

It’s Replete With Few Anti-Nutrients

While legumes offer a host of benefits as we have seen, but the nutritional quality can suffer owing to the presence of few compounds. Never consume legumes in their raw forms, for they would intrude with the digestive systems and also cause obstacles in the absorption of other nutrients.

For example, there are ‘lectins’ that resist digestion and can affect the cells lined up along the intestinal tract. Since lectins produce up to 10% of the total protein content in legumes, it means the consumption should be fixed.

Though inedible ones, the amount is still proper not to cause any symptoms as such, the presence of “phytohemagglutinin” in kidney beans is reported to have toxic effects, if not checked. Try and soak legumes overnight and then boil them for no less than 10-15 minutes to degrade the quality of the lectins and then cook properly.

Then there’s ‘phytate’ or phytic acid, an antioxidant that’s mostly found in edible plant seeds. In legumes, or other high-phytate foods considered “dietary staples” among people, mineral deficiencies are often on the rise. It’s the presence of this acid that causes impairment in the absorption capacity of zinc, iron, and calcium from the same meal itself. But this is found to be relevant only when meat is not consumed adequately.

Instead, over-dependence on high-phytate foods regularly can create severe anomalies. Those who eat meals regularly need not be worried about developing risks of these deficiencies. Alternatively, you can try soaking, sprouting, or fermentation, all of which have been proven to reduce the phytic acid content in legumes.

There Are Other Benefits Too

If you check the randomized controlled trials, they clearly suggest how regularly eating plant foods can reduce the chances of triglycerides and blood pressure. As a result, heart diseases are better controlled. With time, you will also realize that because legumes assist in imparting a “feeling full” effect, weight loss is also aided.

Before adding legumes to your daily diet, do not forget to consult a nutritionist as only a licensed nutritionist can recommend you the best diet plan.