6 reasons to eat legumes

Eating these seeds dry is a cheap and tasty lower cholesterol, lose weight and fight diabetes. Enter a bean increasing consumption. Paula Leighton.
The saying “good things come in small packages” is one of its clearest expressions in legumes.¬†Numerous studies show that beans, lentils, chickpeas and peas are among the healthiest foods.

An estimated 100 grams of pulses included 20 g protein, only 1 to 5.5 g fat and 11 to 21 grams of fiber. Added to this are minerals such as iron, copper, zinc, potassium, magnesium and calcium and B vitamins, which help to fight anemia, reduce bad cholesterol and benefit the nervous system and skin.

The problem is that Chileans are consuming them less and less.

According to a survey of more than 30 000 people conducted by the Healthy Food Program, “only 10% of people consuming legumes more than twice a week, as recommended in the Mediterranean diet-, 55% consumed one to two times per weekand 35%, less than once a week, “said Guadalupe Echeverria, a researcher at the Center for Molecular Nutrition and Chronic Diseases of the U.¬†Catholic.

Studies and experts give six reasons to give more room in the diet.

Healthy protein.¬†”The only legumes lack an essential amino acid-methionine-to provide all essential amino acids having the animal protein,” says Alejandra Gil, clinical nutritionist at the UC San Carlos de Apoquindo.¬†However, he adds, “cereals contain this amino acid, so a noodle dish of beans or lentils and rice provide the same protein content than meat.”

For example, a cup of lentils provides 18 grams of protein, equivalent to three eggs or 70 grams of meat.

Ideal for diabetics. Because of its low glycemic index, legumes have been shown to be important allies of type 2 diabetes.

In several studies, Dr. David Jenkins, director of the Center for Risk Factor Modification St. Michael’s Hospital, the U.¬†Toronto (Canada), and world authority in investigating the benefits of legumes, has been shown to indicate a diet rich in vegetables to these diabetic patients show significant reductions in glucose levels and increases in HDL cholesterol that¬†would result in reductions of 10 to 12% in cardiovascular complications associated with diabetes.

“Its use also reduces total cholesterol and helps regulate blood pressure, benefiting people with high triglycerides and hypertension,” Jenkins told “El Mercurio”.

They help you lose weight.¬†A common myth is that legumes are fattening.¬†However, the opposite occurs.¬†”Several reviews of studies show consistently that eating vegetables is associated with lower body mass index, waist circumference and risk of obesity,” adds Dr. Ines Urquiga, Center for Molecular Nutrition and Chronic Disease UC.¬†Among other things, adds, “This is because high fiber foods such as beans, deliver more mass with less energy and produce an intestinal fullness.”

Jenkins adds, “have fewer calories than equal amounts of red meat or bread.”

Improve intestinal transit. One cup of lentils or black beans provides 15 grams of fiber, a figure no less, considering that, according to the Mayo Clinic, women should try to eat at least 21-25 grams of fiber a day and men 30 to 38 gr.

A diet rich in fiber helps to normalize bowel movements and facilitates the passage of stool.¬†”Therefore, consuming vegetables also helps improve constipation,” says Dr. Karen Salvo, German Clinic dietitian.

Reduced risk of cancer. According to a review of studies of the World Foundation for Research on Cancer, there is evidence that foods rich in fiber like beans, reduce the risk of esophageal cancer and colorectal cancer, whereas consumption of legumes especially protects against cancers stomach and prostate. A study published in May in the journal Nutrition and Cancer showed that consuming legumes at least three times per week reduced by 33% the risk of intestinal polyps, whose appearance can lead to colon cancer.

They are versatile. Preparations with vegetables go well beyond the traditional dishes.All cultures have special dishes; with them can be prepared pasta sandwich spreads (like hummus from chickpeas), salads, meat, vegetable and even desserts, cakes and beverages (soy milk). In March 2009, FAO published about 70 recipes based on these seeds in the Second International Cookbook Chefs Against Hunger-Vegetables. Three of them are included on this page. Dare to try them!


Worldwide there are 180 species of beans, 126 of which come from the Americas.

Tips cocinarlasLa Sun Fliman chef, restaurant vegetarian quinoa, suggests soaking the beans in cold water “and once the water boils, cook over low heat to keep the grains burst.”¬†This also means that are more tender and easier to digest.

In their guide to cooking vegetables, the Mayo Clinic suggests a strategy of soaking helps reduce the swelling they produce.¬†Put the beans in a pot with boiling water and bring to a boil for 2 to 3 minutes, cover and let stand overnight.¬†”The next day, 75 to 90% of indigestible sugars that cause gas will have dissolved in the soaking water.”

The guide also recommends changing the water several times to soak and cook the vegetables with clean water.

“Stew the vegetables with other vegetables like peppers, zucchini or carrot grated Italian, increases the nutritional value of the dish and its content of fiber,” suggests nutritionist Giselle Mu√Īoz, the Cl√≠nica Las Condes.

Paula Larenas, director of Gastronomy and social Inacap Casino Feeds You Healthy Eating suggests always add salt when the beans are already cooked and have added other ingredients to the preparation.

Guisarlas is advisable to put oregano to sofrito, “as it has medicinal properties that help digestion,” advises Paula Larenas.

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