People have been eating dry legumes since ancient times. We continue this tradition because they are a delicious & healthy way to add protein to meals at a lower cost than meat. Some nutrition experts recommend 3 cups/week, while others suggest as much as 8 cups per week for optimal health benefits.
Dried peas, lentils and beans are high in fiber, which helps reduce cholesterol and reduce the risk of several cardiovascular diseases. They also contain potassium which helps reduce the development of blood vessel plaques and reduce blood pressure. OK, so they really are “good for your heart.” But, what else?
The fiber helps control blood sugar levels and helps prevent digestive disorders and colon cancer. Dry legumes are an excellent source of molybdenum, which helps to detoxify sulfites. Besides these nutrients, dry legumes are very good sources of protein, vitamin B1 (thiamin), folate, tryptophan, phosphorus and manganese. Dry peas contain isoflavones that reduce the risk of breast and prostate cancers. Lentils contain iron for energy and copper. Black beans contain magnesium and iron. Kidney beans contain copper and vitamin K. Garbanzo beans (chick peas) contain a wide variety of antioxidants.
The bad side of beans:
- Dry legumes contain purines. Check with your doctor if you have issues with your kidneys or with gout
- “the more you eat, the more you…” ahem, yes. Soaking peas and beans (not required for split peas or lentils) reduces the “musical” effect.
For more info on the nutrition of beans, check out World’s Healthiest Foods or you can do an internet search.
While they store well for up to a year in dried state and are cheaper, there is little difference in the nutritional value of canned beans vs dried, though cooking your own lets you control the added salt and you don’t have to worry about bpa leaching from the can. Cooked dried beans can be made ahead and frozen. Or you can cook a big pot of beans and eat from it all week. We love Canellini, white kidney, beans to add to soups, salads and pastas, but you can also puree peas or beans to make a hummus-like spread for a snack, put them in chili, or make baked beans. Below are a couple of recipes you might like. How do you enjoy dry legumes?
Gheymeh — a Middle Eastern stew, originally made with lamb (I use beef) and yellow split peas
Red lentils with pasta — for some reason, they didn’t put salt in this recipe. It needs it.
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