The class of vegetables that includes beans, peas, lentils and garbanzo beans, or chick peas, is called legumes. People have been eating legumes for thousands of years and these foods are the main source of protein for people in many developing countries.
Beans and other legumes have all the nutrients now recognized as important in preventing heart disease, cancer and obesity. They are high in complex carbohydrates, protein and fiber. And they are extremely low in fat.
Do legumes sound boring? The following dishes all include Iegumes:
- Italian pasta e fagioli;
- Middle Eastern falafel and hummus;
- Cuban black beans and rice;
- Mexican refried beans;
- Asian soybean products, including tofu, miso, and tempeh;
- bean sprouts;
- split pea or lentil soup.
Many people avoid beans and other legumes because of their reputation for producing gas. Studies show that people who eat beans frequently experience this problem less. The body seems to adapt.
Beans and lentils can be made more digestible by following these tips:
- soak them for eight hours before cooking or boil them for 30 minutes and then change the water;
- change the soaking water several times;
- add salt and acidic ingredients such as tomatoes after cooking.
Add beans gradually to your diet. Try a few tablespoons of garbanzo or kidney beans in a salad. Include beans, peas and lentils in soups or pasta dishes.
To get the full nutritional benefit of legumes, gradually increase your consumption until you are consuming at least three to four cups of beans, peas or lentils per week.