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6 reasons to eat legumes

Posted on : 28-08-2011 | By : Cindy | In : Bowel, Cancer, Diabetes, Legumes, Losing it - weight loss & obesity


“I don’t know what’s happened but all I want to eat each afternoon is peanut butter on a slice of grain bread,” my friend commented this week.

No, she’s not pregnant. But she has started a new job and hardly eats all day. No wonder her body is hanging out for a super combo of carbs, protein and healthy monounsaturated fat. That’s what you get in a peanut butter sandwich along with 1.5 grams of fibre per tablespoon of peanut butter. Spread it on wholemeal or grainy bread and the fibre could reach 5 or 6 grams – enough to tide a busy working mum through the hectic 4-6pm dinner rush.

It got me thinking about peanuts. They are often lumped with other nuts when we should really be looking at the first half of their name – pea. That’s right; like split peas they are actually a legume, not a nut.

According to GoGrains latest consumer research not too many of us eat legumes. It seems to be all or nothing: the health conscious vegetarians amongst eat plenty while the rest of us hardly touch dried peas and beans, apart from the odd can of baked beans. And even their consumption is sadly dropping.

Here are six great reasons to eat more lentils, hummus, baked beans, peanuts and chickpeas, and to toss a can of beans into your mince, soup or salad at least a couple of times a week.

  • 1 Cheap
  • 2 Easy – Just open a can of beans and add it to a salad, soup or mince meal. Or throw in a handful or two of red lentils to bolognaise sauce, casseroles or soup. They don’t need pre-soaking and cook  in 10-15 minutes helping to thicken the sauce or soup.
  • 3 Reduces the risk of heart disease. Eating legumes four or more times a week (compared with less than once a week) is associated with a 22% lower risk of heart disease.
  • 4 Reduces the risk of diabetes and obesity. The high fibre fills you up so you don’t stuff too much in at one meal, and the low glycemic index helps reduce insulin and glucose levels, not to mention making you feel less desperate to snack on chocolate and cake.
  • 5 Improves gut health. Legumes are prebiotics – they act like fertiliser for healthy probiotic bacteria to keep them alive and active in the digestive system.
  • 6 The World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research recommends people ‘eat relatively unprocessed grains and/or legumes with every meal.’ The Australian organisation GoGrains would be happy if we would all eat legumes twice a week – and ecstatic if we could make it to four. But let’s see if we can hit twice a week first!

My top 6 ways to eat legumes

  • 1 Baked beans on grainy toast
  • 2 Lentil pumpkin soup (recipe on blog)
  • 3 Hummus (recipe on blog)
  • 4 Chilli con Carne – add a can of red kidney beans and some chilli flakes to your usual lean mince
  • 5 Peanut butter (no added salt or sugar) on wholegrain wrap – a great snack or lunch on the run
  • 6 Katalin’s beans (recipe coming soon, I promise)



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