What’s a legume?

A look at plant-based pro­tein

The News (New Glasgow) - - PICTOU COUNTY - Ellen Greenan Ellen Greenan is a reg­is­tered di­eti­cian with Su­per­store in New Glas­gow.

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.

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