Five Reasons to Reach for the Legumes

Five Reasons to Reach for the Legumes

The weather is getting cooler and our thoughts and taste buds are turning to comfort foods. You know those lovely warming and hearty meals that make you feel full and satisfied. Legumes or pulses have made somewhat of a comeback in recent years with cannellini, kidney, black bean, chickpeas and borlotti beans featuring regularly in a range of dishes and cuisines. Kidney beans are regularly used in chocolate cakes for their Gluten free, nut free and high protein properties; black beans pop up on Instagram having been the main ingredient in a decadent chocolate brownie and with the resurgence of Mexican cuisine, the humble legume is somewhat of a star in the kitchen today for its versatility.

  1. Legumes are nutrition powerhouses and are a group of plant foods that are not just for vegetarians! They are packed full of protein making them an ideal base to a vegetarian dish or a substitute for meat. They make great soups and tasty fibre-boosting additions to casseroles and family favourites like curries and pasta dishes.
  2. Legumes are high in dietary fibre, which helps to keep our bowels healthy. They are also a good source of insoluble and soluble fibre, which is good for digestive health and the soluble fibre in legumes has been found to help lower blood cholesterol levels.
  3. Legumes are a source of complex carbohydrate and have a low glycaemic index (GI), which means they are broken down more slowly so you feel fuller for longer. This makes them a particularly good food for preventing and managing diabetes.
  4. Legumes are also a useful source of the B-group vitamins, which can often be lacking in those who are vegetarian. They contain folate, iron, zinc, calcium, phosphorous and magnesium. They are naturally low in fat (except for soya beans and peanuts) and they are also low in sodium. If you are using canned legumes/beans, make sure you drain and rinse them first to remove the added salt in the liquid.
  5. Legumes are very cheap to buy, they contain a wide variety of nutrients and are a very healthy and economical food for everyone to include as part of a balanced diet.


Examples of legumes include:

  • Split peas
  • Cannellini beans
  • Kidney beans
  • Baked beans (navy beans)
  • Soybeans
  • Chickpeas
  • Four bean mix
  • Red, green or brown lentils.

How you can include legumes into healthy eating:

  • Add chickpeas or four bean mix to stir-fry dishes
  • Add beans and lentils to casserole dishes to make the meal go further
  • Use four bean mixes in your salads to increase the protein content
  • Serve hummus (a low fat dip made from chickpeas) with vegetable sticks for a delicious snack
  • Small tins of baked beans make a great snack, a delicious breakfast served on toast or a great addition to a toasted sandwich
  • Beans, such as red kidney beans or soybeans are a great inclusion to lasagne or tacos
  • Legumes, like lentils or chickpeas make a great base for patties or vegetarian burgers
  • You can now buy oven roasted chickpeas and fava beans. Or even better roast them yourself in the oven with your favourite flavours for a great tasting snack!

Written by Amanda McCredie (APD)