Jessica Acosta Roschmann
Legumes are part of the human being feeding since farming started in the Neolithic Age. The Egyptians were really passionate for lentils. This taste was taken for the Romans as well. In Mexico and Peru, 8,000 years BC, the beans were currency. In Europe in the Middle Ages, the intake of beans avoided hunger after wars and Black Death.
As the names and meanings are slightly different and sometimes confusing between Spanish and English, here you are a brief EXPLANATION chart:
Legumes are the dried seeds or grains of the leguminous crops. The most popular are chickpeas, lentils and dried beans.
Regarding oleic legumes, there are peanuts, lupines and soy – this last one is becoming more and more popular in Spain. In Valencia-Spain, brine lupines are quite consumed.
As a vegetable food, legumes have a bigger full-board composition of nutrients than other vegetables. Their protein content is not perfect for the human being because they lack aminoacids that allow forming structures, known as high-quality proteins. However, this lack is balanced in the same meal/dish if you add cereals, which contain those aminoacids.
Lentils with rice were called in Spain The steak of poor people, because in a low-level society it meant a vast amount of proteins, similar to the ones in the meat or fish. Furthermore, they have a high content of carbohydrates (mainly starch), low or mild unsaturated fat (except oleaginous ones) and significant content of minerals (iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc), vitamins, niacin and folic acid (especially in chickpeas) and B6 vitamin (lentils and dried beans).
The content of indigestible fiber (the skin or peel) helps to absorb the glucose more slowly. That doesn’t let it get into the blood stream, which makes them an ideal ally against diabetes disease. Moreover, the vegetable fiber is also a good ally for the intestinal flora, avoiding infections caused by funghi and pathogenic bacterias. They contribute to lower LCL levels (bad cholesterol). Besides, they help to keep a good bowel function.
One of the constituent elements of the legumes are the saponins (surfactants substances that produce foam). These saponins difficult the absorbing process of iron and some vitamins. The key is to soak the legumes overnight or for some hours and strain them afterward, some people even do it twice. Or at least wash them before cooking.
They also content phytates, antinutrients that lower the absorption of iron, zinc and other minerals. However, they disappear during the cooking process, the sprouting and fermentation.
One of the reasons for not consuming legumes is that they produce gas and bloating to some people. To mitigate it, there are some useful tips that really work: add cumin/fennel or stop the boiling process pouring cold water (this is called “scare them” in Spain).
We can claim that legumes are a pretty interesting food for our organism and we should consume them often.
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