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Topic summary contributed by volunteer(s): Randy

Legumes include beans, lentils, split peas, chickpeas, soy, and peanuts. Most authorities agree that healthy diets should include beans. The USDA’s Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee recommended that the public eat more legumes, which may fulfill both protein and vegetable needs, but 96% of Americans don’t eat the minimum recommended amount, with only a measly 3% of calories coming from beans and nuts in the standard American diet.

Legumes, especially black beans and sprouted beans, provide antioxidants, fiber, lignans, folate, magnesium, and non-heme iron. Legumes may reduce risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, insulin resistance, provide for better blood sugar control, protect against prostate enlargement, improve bone density, protect against skin wrinkling, reduce levels of C-reactive protein (a marker of inflammation), reduce high blood pressure, lower cholesterol (particularly LDL cholesterol), help reduce risk factors for and reverse metabolic and cardiovascular disease, and reduce risk for breast and other cancers. Overall, legume intake may be the most important dietary predictor of a long lifespan. There’s no excuse not to eat legumes every day, as they are a cheap and cost-effective way to improve our diet.


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