Northeastern University Dining Services Blog

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Moving Legumes to the Center of the Plate

Thursday, April 7, 2016 | 10:13 AM Posted by Northeastern Dining , , , , , , , No comments


With assistance from Northeastern graduate student Jennifer Chisam

What Are Legumes?
Legumes, specifically black-eyed peas, garbanzo beans, black beans, cannellini beans, kidney beans, and lentils, are nutrient dense foods with many health benefits. These legumes are high in protein, complex carbohydrates, fiber, as well as many vitamins and minerals. According to the USDA MyPlate dietary guidelines, legumes are even part of two food groups, the meat group and the vegetable group. While current legume consumption is low, garbanzo beans – in the form of hummus – are on the rise.

Are Legumes Healthy?
Research has indicated many health benefits associated with consuming legumes including a reduced risk in cardiovascular disease, hypertension, type II diabetes, and high blood pressure. Since legumes are high in complex carbohydrates, they have a low glycemic index making them a great choice for people with diabetes. Being high in both soluble and insoluble fiber, legumes provide a feeling of fullness known as satiety, which also aids in weight management. Black eyed peas are higher in soluble fiber which binds to cholesterol and aids in blood sugar regulation. Garbanzo beans are higher in insoluble fiber which helps with digestion, prevents constipation, and increases satiety. It is important to remember if using canned beans to reach for the low sodium options. Draining and rinsing is also recommended which removes about 41% of the sodium as well as reduces flatulence. Kidney beans are high in protein, low in carbohydrates, low in fat and calories, and are nutrient dense. Cannellini beans, or white kidney beans, are high in protein, high in soluble fiber, and nutrient dense. Legumes also contain beneficial vitamins and minerals including folate, vitamin A, vitamin K, potassium, magnesium, and manganese.

Making Legumes a Staple Choice
With the USDA recommends 2.5 to 3.5 cups of legumes per week, less than 13% of Americans actually meet these guidelines. Adding garbanzo beans or lentils to a salad will help provides some essential nutrients for a delicious and healthful meal. Also try using hummus as a spread instead of mayonnaise for a healthier more nutrient-dense option. Cannellini beans are a great addition to many soups including the traditional Italian minestrone. All can help you feel full while giving your body nutrients it needs to help reduce health risks and maintain a healthy weight.

References
  1. Azadbakht L, Haghighatdoost F, Esmaillzadeh A. Legumes: A component of a healthy diet. J Res Med Sci. 2011; 16(2):121-122.
  2. Tufts University Health and Nutrition Letter. Add These Lesser-Known Legumes to Your Healthy Pantry. 2015; 32(11):6(1) http://www.nutritionletter.tufts.edu/issues/10_13/current-articles/Add-These-Lesser-Known-Legumes-to-Your-Healthy-Pantry_1621-1.html.
  3. Mudryj AN, Yu N, Aukema HM. Nutritional and health benefits of pulses. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2014; 39:1197-1204. doi: dx.doi.org/10.1139/apnm-2013-0557.
  4. SELFNutrition Data. Know what you eat. http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2324/2.

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