Legumes: just a posh word for beans? Nope. They’re up there with leafy greens and whole grains as a food group you should prob­a­bly be eat­ing more of

Women's Health (UK) - - CONTENTS - words MARIA LALLY

Swot up on legumes, the kitchen ba­sics that pack a punch

If it’s been a few years since you heard the one about Jack and his beanstalk, al­low us to re­fresh your mem­ory. At the cen­tre of this story are some magic beans. As to their po­tency, Jack was scep­ti­cal. But the beans de­liv­ered, and then some. Which is why you’d do well to keep an open mind while we tell you about some lit­tle morsels that of­fer a more mod­ern kind of magic. Con­sis­tently listed by nutri­tion ex­perts as won­ders of home cook­ing and meal prep, legumes (ley-gooms) come from plants that bear seeds and pods – so beans, as well as peas and nuts, sit un­der the um­brella term. ‘Legumes are quite unique in that they’re an in­cred­i­ble source of both pro­tein and fi­bre,’ says He­len Bond, reg­is­tered di­eti­tian and spokesper­son for the Bri­tish Di­etetic As­so­ci­a­tion. ‘They’re nu­tri­ent-dense, mean­ing they’re gen­er­ally low in calo­ries and fat but pack a lot of vi­ta­mins, min­er­als and nu­tri­ents into one serv­ing.’ Their pow­ers are rooted in science. Re­cent re­search sug­gests they could be an un­tapped re­source when it comes to weight loss. A 2017 study from the Uni­ver­sity of Copenhagen found that those who ate a serv­ing of legumes at one meal con­sumed 12% fewer calo­ries at their next. An­other study pub­lished in the Jour­nal Of The Amer­i­can Col­lege of Nutri­tion found that peo­ple who con­sumed legumes reg­u­larly were slim­mer and had a lower risk of be­com­ing obese later in life than those who didn’t. ‘It all comes down to their high fi­bre con­tent, which means they’re great for di­ges­tion,’ adds Bond. ‘They also feed the good bac­te­ria in your gut, which we now know is ben­e­fi­cial to your over­all health.’ And it gets bet­ter. Three heaped ta­ble­spoons count as one of your five a day. They’re cheap, easy to cook and nu­tri­tion­ists con­sis­tently say we should all be eat­ing more of them. So why aren’t we? ‘Not ev­ery­body knows what a legume is,’ says Bond. ‘It’s a strange word and in­ter­change­able with oth­ers, like pulses, beans and lentils, which are ac­tu­ally sub­cat­e­gories of the legume fam­ily. There are many dif­fer­ent types, but nearly all are full of fi­bre, pro­tein and many dif­fer­ent health-pro­tect­ing vi­ta­mins and min­er­als. So rather than get hung up on their fat or vi­ta­min con­tent, in­clude a wide va­ri­ety in your diet and try a new one each week.’ Full of beans? You will be.

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