The benefits that legumes offer to our health and silhouette are many. That is why it is necessary to include them in our diet.
Legumes, especially lentils and beans, are unfortunately not the best tasting choice for many. However, they are very important for our diet and health and are key components of the Mediterranean diet, covering much of the food pyramid. In fact, if you are on a diet plan, it is one of the best choices you can make. See for what reasons:
They supply us with iron
Beans and lentils are good sources of iron, which is needed to make hemoglobin (which carries oxygen from the lungs to all the cells in the body) into the bloodstream. Iron deficiency can lead to anemia, a condition in which the blood has a lower red blood cell count. Combine iron-rich legumes with good sources of vitamin C (such as lemon, oranges, tomatoes, etc.), which increases the body's ability to absorb iron. One cup of beans and lentils provides 30 to 37% of the recommended daily allowance for iron.
They help maintain our silhouette
A 2008 study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition found that people who ate beans regularly had a 22% lower risk of obesity compared with people who did not eat beans regularly. The research also found that those who ate beans were more likely to have a slim waist. According to the researchers, the soluble fiber in beans, slows down the rate of digestion and this allows to create a feeling of fullness for a longer time.
In addition, legumes are high-energy foods that prevent the pancreas from secreting too much insulin, which is followed by a drop in blood sugar levels which in turn causes cravings for food. Replacing foods that contain too much fructose with legumes can prevent the pancreas from secreting large amounts of insulin and help maintain healthy blood sugar levels.
They protect against type 2 diabetes
The soluble fiber in beans and lentils also helps stabilize blood sugar levels, especially important in preventing type 2 diabetes. Canadian researchers analyzed results in 41 clinical trials in 2009 and found that people who ate legumes regularly had more stable blood sugar levels than those who did not eat. The high fiber content of legumes slows down the absorption of sugars into the blood, while providing stable, flame retardant energy.
They improve the function of enzymes
Beans are enriched with copper, a mineral salt necessary for the proper functioning of many enzymes. For example, copper, along with manganese (also found in beans), is a key component of an oxidizing enzyme called peroxide dismutase, which neutralizes free radicals produced inside the mitochondria - the "energy unit" of the cell. Copper is also responsible for the formation of skin pigment and connective tissues. One cup of boiled beans provide 20 to 35% of the recommended daily allowance of copper. One cup of cooked lentils provides 25% of the recommended daily allowance of copper.
They provide protein
Legumes are considered a good source of protein and thus contribute to proper nutrition. When combined with whole grains such as black rice, legumes provide a protein comparable to that of meat or dairy products, without loading us with the many calories or saturated fat that these foods have. One cup of cooked lentils provides about 35% of the recommended daily allowance of protein, and one cup of cooked beans provides about 30% of the daily requirement.
They prevent birth defects
A woman trying to conceive should include sources of folic acid in her diet, which prevents birth defects. One cup of cooked lentils provides more than 80% of the recommended daily allowance of folic acid! Beans also contain significant amounts of folic acid. For example, one cup of boiled beans provides 57% of the recommended daily allowance of folic acid.
They reduce the risk of cancer
Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health examined the eating habits of 90,360 women in the age group 26 to 46 years. The data showed that women who ate beans and lentils at least twice a week had a 25% lower risk of developing breast cancer compared to those who ate legumes only once a month. Legumes fight obesity and therefore the cancers associated with it. Refined carbohydrates (white bread, white rice, sugar, etc.) supply cancer cells with sugar. But if these foods are replaced with legumes, the body will develop a defense against cancer.
They reduce the risk of heart disease
Beans and lentils are rich in soluble fiber, which helps lower total cholesterol as well as LDL ("bad") cholesterol. Soluble fiber binds the bile acids (necessary for the digestion of fat) produced by the liver and transported to the intestine. As a result, the liver must use more cholesterol stores to make extra bile acids. A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that those who ate more fiber -21 grams a day- were 12% less likely to develop coronary heart disease and 11% less likely to develop cardiovascular disease than those who ate less -5 grams a day. .
In addition, both beans and lentils are a good source of folic acid and magnesium. Vitamin B helps reduce homocysteine levels. High levels of homocysteine can damage blood vessels and lead to heart attack, stroke or peripheral vascular disease. Magnesium, on the other hand, helps control the neuromuscular activity of the heart, so that it beats in a normal rhythmic pattern. It also helps prevent any abnormal blood clotting in the heart and reduces the risk of heart attack or stroke.
They regulate blood pressure
A study conducted in Australia concluded that hypertension can be prevented by consuming dietary protein and soluble fiber. Legumes are good sources of both of these nutrients.
Have we now persuaded you to make another attempt to include legumes in your diet? Do not forget that there are delicious and original recipes to enjoy in different ways. If you are still a vegetarian, then legumes are a good source of vegetable protein for you!