Benefits of legumes: qualities, how to avoid gas and healthy recipes

Benefits of legumes: qualities, how to avoid gas and healthy recipes

Legumes are a local food with great nutritional properties, which contain fiber and the basic nutrients of our diet (micro and macronutrients). S and has shown that consumption helps combat or prevent many diseases prevalent in our society: obesity, malnutrition, diabetes, constipation, cardiovascular problems, cancer, etc. In addition, increasing the consumption of legumes indirectly helps to reduce the consumption of meat, improving the environmental impact that this entails. For all this, in this article we want to explain the benefits of legumes, some of its most outstanding nutritional characteristics, we will explain how to cook them to avoid digestive discomfort and gas and we will also propose recipes with legumes .

Legumes benefits

Common nutritional characteristics

Legumes are rich in complex carbohydrates (source of energy). Legumes are the main source of vegetable protein in vegetarian or vegan diets . Legumes provide complete vegetable protein, and high biological value, which means that they contain all the essential amino acids , those that we must obtain through food, since our body is not capable of synthesizing it itself. They also contain, although to a lesser extent, a good contribution to heart-healthy fat. In addition, they are rich in micronutrients such as vitamin A, E or the B vitamins and minerals such as iron, calcium or magnesium.

  • They help regulate and improve cardiovascular health (hypertension, diabetes, dyslipidemia, etc. )  Its high content of soluble fiber, vegetable protein and richness of micronutrients.
  • They help control weight weight. Its high content of soluble fiber helps to increase the satiating power of the feedings. This helps regulate and control your appetite more throughout the day.
  • They improve constipation . Again, due to its high content of soluble fiber that improves and favors proper intestinal transit.
  • They are a good contribution of iron of vegetable origin. To improve the bioavailability of this iron, it is recommended to combine the consumption of legumes with foods rich in vitamin C (peppers, broccoli …) or fruits (oranges, kiwi, lemon, strawberries …) in the same intake (included in the plate or in dessert). This can be especially recommended in cases of anemia or a vegetarian or vegan diet.  

Characteristics of some legumes

  • The lentils are the only vegetable protein despite provide incomplete, since they are deficient in methionine (essential amino acid). That is why it is always recommended to mix with cereals such as rice or dried fruits such as walnuts (not necessarily in the same meal) since the latter provide that amino acid that they lack. The cereal will provide the lentils with  proteins of high biological value .
  • The red lentils  are devoid of skin, thereby causing less gases and will be helpful for people who have digestive problems with legumes.
  • The peanuts by their nature belong to the group of legumes. But it is true that due to their nutritional composition, their main nutrient is fat (almost 50%), more fat than most legumes, and that is why they are considered nuts.
  • The soybean is the legume has more calcium content.
  • The peas are legumes, therefore, its benefits are similar. It provides a good amount of fiber although its protein content is not as high as the rest.

How to prepare a balanced dish with legumes

Should legumes be considered protein, like meat or fish, or carbohydrate, like pasta, rice, or bread As we have already mentioned, they provide both nutrients. If we take into account the plate method, they can be taken in 3 ways. As a side dish of carbohydrates (¼ accompanied with a portion of protein, as a vegetable protein (¼ accompanied by a portion of carbohydrates) or as a complete dish (½) always accompanied with a portion of vegetables. In these 3 ways you will get a nutritionally and Calorically balanced
If you want to get into the habit of consuming them 3 times a week, as recommended by the WHO (World Health Organization), it is cheaper to cook them at home and not buy them cooked.

How to cook legumes

A practical and quick option that can help us prepare a nutritious dish in a short time is to use jars of cooked vegetables. This option is perfectly recommended and valid, but we would recommend cleaning them well, to remove excess salt and additives that they may have.

The first step in cooking dried legumes is soaking , essential in the case of chickpeas and beans and optional in the case of lentils. These take less time to cook, so they don’t even need pre-soaking. The soaking can be done in several ways, with hot water and in less time or with cold water and for more hours.

In the case of chickpeas or beans, a minimum of 12 hours soaking in plenty of cold water is recommended. In the case of lentils, an hour in cold water may be sufficient.

After soaking , it is advisable to rinse them well before use and pour out the soaking water.

To boil them, they are always cooked in cold water , except again for the chickpeas, which we must always cook in boiling water. Cooking should always be over moderate or slow heat , never strong. A live boil breaks the legumes and causes the skins to peel off.

Every time water is added while the legumes are cooking, it should be cold except, once again, with the chickpeas. What’s more, it is convenient not to put too much liquid at the beginning and add as needed.

  • Chickpeas 2: 45 minutes of cooking = 45 minutes espresso pot
  • Lentils   1h = 25-30 minutes pressure cooker
  • Beans 1: 30h = 35-40 minutes pressure cooker

We recommend cooking a serving for one more day and having it ready for more than one day. And if you don’t want to eat the same thing for many days in a row, you can always freeze the remaining legumes. 

How to consume legumes

In addition to having the great nutritional qualities that we have seen, they have great culinary versatility.

  • The most traditional form is perhaps the typical legume c oid : if it is made with vegetables, it can be a very healthy option. But of course, here you should not add meat products (chorizo, blood sausage … etc.). These foods will add energy value to the food that we do not need and will make the plate heavier. You can put them to boil with vegetables (onion, leek, carrot …) and add spices such as garlic, sweet paprika or cumin.
  • Boiled with water only : once boiled, they can be boiled and combined  with other foods. Sautéed with vegetables or cereals (rice, couscous, quinoa), mixed with vegetables roasted in the oven or boiled, in a salad format or toasted in the oven to add to a puree or cream (as a topping). 

How to improve the digestion of a legume dish

One of the main drawbacks when it comes to consuming legumes is their heavy digestion . Not everyone feels bad but there are people who discard eating them because they cause indigestion and gas . How can we improve their digestion in these cases? If the cause of your discomfort is not an intolerance, we recommend that you follow these tips:

  • Do not use the soaking water and wash them well to eliminate the fibers that are released during soaking.
  • Prolonged cooking over low heat causes indigestible sugars to break down into simpler and easier to digest sugars. Some legumes cooked entirely over low heat will be less indigestible than others cooked only in the ultra-fast cooker.
  • Adding spices such as cumin, bay leaf or cloves also usually work well so that they do not give off gas.
  • They will also be less indigestible and heavy the less fat we add during cooking. If stew or fabada are heavy preparations, it is not just because of the legumes.
  • You have to eat slowly and calmly. It is a good habit that will undoubtedly improve later digestion. Eating a legume dish in 5 minutes is not the same as in 25.
  • Eat a moderate portion. A medium plate of lentils with vegetables is not the same as a large plate, accompanied by a second of meat or fish. Here perhaps it would no longer be the legume that can be indigestible.

Recipes with legumes

Chickpeas with vegetables

Raw chickpeas, 1 large carrot, 1 green pepper, 1 medium onion, 1 leek, 2 cloves of garlic, bay leaf, cumin, olive oil and salt.

Let the chickpeas soak in water overnight. The next day, once they are hydrated, clean the water and place them in a saucepan with bay leaf, cumin and salt. Cover with water. Clean the vegetables and add them in large pieces. Let them be done. When they are done, turn off the heat, remove the vegetables and crush them to later add them to the chickpeas and thus thicken the sauce.

Lentil Salad

Boiled lentils, 1 small carrot, 1 green pepper, 1/2 red pepper, lemon juice, fresh parsley, black peppercorns, ground cumin, turmeric, granulated garlic, olive oil and salt.

Hydrate the lentils with water until the water is no longer cloudy. Once it is hydrated, place the lentils with bay leaf, pepper and salt in a saucepan. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Cook over medium heat for at least 15-20 minutes.
Wash and cut the vegetables into small pieces. Mix the vegetables with the lentils in a bowl. Add the parsley and spices to taste. Mix the oil with the vinegar, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Season and mix all the ingredients well until a homogeneous composition is left. Let it rest in the fridge or serve immediately.

Image of couscous with chickpeas and mango by Adriana Oroz Lacunza

Couscous with chickpeas and mango

Couscous, cooked chickpeas, 1 small carrot, ½ medium onion, 1 small green pepper, ½ large red pepper, ¼ mango, salt, olive oil, spices (cumin, parsley, ground pepper, sweet paprika) and fresh basil.

First, hydrate the couscous with hot water (same amount of water as couscous). Let stand for 3-4 minutes. Clean and cut the vegetables. In a pan with olive oil, add the onion and carrot to sauté over low heat for about 5-8 minutes. Add the rest of the vegetables. When the vegetables are already poached, add the couscous and chickpeas. Season with the salt and spices taste and sauté everything together. Add the mango and the chopped basil on top.

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