What’s a legume?
A look at plant-based protein
Plant-based protein has been getting a lot of hype over the last couple of years and for good reason. Legumes are a plant-based protein that is also low in saturated fats and salt. Legumes are high in fibre, folate, potassium and iron, making them very nutritious.
Legumes are a part of a plant that’s either in a pod or a seed form, including soybeans, peanuts, fresh peas and beans, and pulses. For example, soy milk, made from soybeans, is a great complete protein source, meaning it has all the essential amino acids your body requires. Peanuts are a fairly popular type of legume and you may be surprised to know that peanuts are not technically a nut.
They are a great source of protein and healthy fats, but as they are more calorie dense than other types of legumes, it’s a good idea to eat them in moderation. As for peas, you can’t go wrong with a split pea soup — or try eating fresh beans with hummus as a quick and easy on-the-go snack. Both the beans and the hummus, made from chickpeas, will provide the nutritional benefits of legumes.
A newer term that some may not be familiar with is a pulse: this is a category of legumes that includes dried beans, chickpeas, dried peas and lentils. With the winter months rolling in, soup is a go-to for many people, and getting the nutritional benefits of pulses can be as simple as adding in a can of black beans to your regular soup or roasting chickpeas and adding them like croutons as a crunchy garnish on a pureed soup or a hearty salad. You can also jazz up your salads simply by adding lentils on top of your greens or incorporating kidney beans in a pasta salad. When it comes to including pulses in your diet, you don’t have to change anything drastic, but rather add them into meals you already enjoy.
“When it comes to including pulses in your diet, you don’t have to change anything drastic, but rather add them into meals you already enjoy.”
Legumes can be added to many of your go-to recipes for a nutrition boost. They are jam- packed with fibre, which most Canadians don’t get enough of, and also contain many of different vitamins and minerals. Getting protein from plant-based sources may be a newer concept, especially if you do eat meat, but legumes aren’t just for vegetarians. Anyone can and should be incorporating these foods into their diet as they all contribute to a healthy lifestyle.