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Make Room for Legumes

Published in Gastroenterology, Heart & Vascular, For the Health of It, Healthy Eating Tips Author: Clara Vancura,RDN,LD

High in fiber, high in protein and low in fat. Don’t just “plant a seed” to add legumes to your diet. Eat the seed.

Legumes, in general, are the edible seeds of the Leguminosae plant family. Members of this family include:

  • Beans
  • Peas
  • Lentils
  • Peanuts (because they don’t grow on trees — that’s why peanuts are considered legumes instead of nuts)

Legumes are affordable and plentiful form of protein. Both easily prepared and having a mild flavor, legumes work well in almost any dish. Because they are a great source of protein that doesn’t come from animals, they are favored among vegetarians and cardiac event survivors.

Studies have linked consumption of legumes to a lower risk of heart disease, lower cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure and assist with long-term weight loss. However, it should be noted that the fibers in legumes can lead to gas and bloating — so those with GI sensitivity may need to:

  • increase their consumption of legumes slowly
  • if using dry legumes, soak them overnight — then rinse them before cooking
  • or if using canned legumes — drain and rinse them before cooking (this helps remove sodium, too)
  • try Beano to help your body digest better digest legumes

For more help, talk to your health care provider or a registered dietitian. For those who have survived cardiac events, learn how our rehabilitation services are available to help with diet-related topics.

For ideas, view the list below for some healthy recipes containing legumes. Great for cold wintry days, to share at Thanksgiving dinner or just whenever.

Appetizers and Snacks

Soups, Salads & Entrees