Healthy Action Step of the Day: Eat More Legumes

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Photo of green lentils in pot on stove

Eat more legumes. These powerpacked vegetables are one of the most nutrient dense foods around. They come from plants that produce a pod with a seed inside. The “legume” is the seed. According to this article published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, legumes are rich in potassium, magnesium, folate, iron, and zinc and are a good source of protein. In fact, they’re among the only plant foods that provide significant amounts of the indispensable amino acid lysine. They’re also a low glycemic index food because they’re a good source of total and soluble fiber as well as resistant starch. That’s part of what makes them so great for all of us but especially those with diabetes or pre-diabetes.

Another study was conducted by the National Ageing Research Institute to identify protective dietary predictors among “long-lived elderly people” in Japan, Sweden, Greece and Australia. The legume food group showed a 7-8% reduction in mortality hazard ratio for every 20g increase in daily intake with or without controlling for ethnicity.  Other food groups were not found to be consistently significant in predicting survival among the study’s participants.

For some, legumes can cause intestinal problems that can be attributed to the oligosaccharides in beans. To help make this a non-issue, you can sprout your beans or soak them in water before cooking (get rid of the water they were soaked in).  Lentils, split peas and blackeyed peas don’t need to be soaked.

While buying canned beans is perfectly fine (as long as you know that’s there’s no BPA or Bisphenol S in the lining of the can), it is usually cheaper to buy dried beans and cook them in a in a slow cooker or a pot on the stove. I use my slow cooker, and it works great!

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