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Leguminous plants not only for vegans

Leguminous plants, such as beans, peas, lentils and chickpeas, are frequently eliminated from our menus as they are considered as heavy to digest and gas-causing. The truth is, leguminous plants belong to the most valuable foods available on the market. Why is it recommended to eat leguminous plants?

Proteins

Leguminous plants are rich in proteins. On average, they contain as much protein as chicken breast meat . Compared to protein from milk and meat, it has a slightly less favourable amino acid composition, which can be easily compensated by introducing cereals to your diet.

Glycemic index

Lentils, chickpeas and beans all have average or low glycemic index, they are therefore recommended to individuals suffering from insulin resistance, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Leguminous plants also provide your organism with insoluble dietary fibres which feed the good probiotic bacteria in your intestines, as explained further in the article on Probiotics and prebiotics.

Satiety index

This index measures the satiety feeling after eating certain foods. Eating leguminous plants, which have high satiety index, is particularly recommended for overweight and obese individuals. This is confirmed by research results [1] examining the influence of eating various foods on feeling satiated and the urge to eat something sweet, where leguminous plants have shown significant beneficial effects.

Fibres

The recommended daily amount of fibers is approximately 30 g. However, the standard diet consisting mostly of processed foods, provides only 12-15 g of this nutrient. Leguminous plants are rich source of fibers, which improves your immune system, contributes to loss of weight, stimulates bowel movement, decreases the harmful LDL cholesterol level and stabilizes blood glucose level.

For phically active people

The desire to improve health and decrease the risk of diet related illnesses (mostly cardiovascular diseases) should motivate athletes to eat more leguminous plants, as perfect alternative to animal protein, especially that animal products are frequently a source of harmful saturated fatty acids, consumption of which should be kept to a minimum. Eating more leguminous plants help athletes to improve their results in competition, speed of regeneration and to decrease the number of injuries.

Leguminous plants show a range of beneficial effects on human body. This is confirmed by epidemiology studies showing that vegans are clearly healthier compared to individuals on “normal” diet.
[1] M.A. McCrory, B.R. Hamaker, J.C. Lovejoy, P.E. Eichelsdoerfer, Pulse consumption, satiety, and weight management, Adv Nutr An Int Rev J, 2010, 1(1), p. 17–30

Recommended by Aneta Korzeniecka, nutritionist