alertawarenessbecome-a-memberbiocalendarclockclosecommunitycorporatecupemailentrancefacebookheartinstagraminternationalleafmake-a-donationmappinmenupawnpersonpolitical-tribuneproveg-iconquoterefreshsearchspread-the-wordtaste-platetwitterwagaworldmapyoutube

Legumes

Wed 10.04.2019

Image source: Pexels

Legumes and pulses are rich in vitamins and protein. A staple ingredient in many regional diets, this food group offers a plethora of benefits. ProVeg looks at why legumes are such a healthy source of protein and other nutrients.

What are pulses?

Pulses are part of the legume family (any plants whose seeds grow in pods), but the term refers only to the dry edible seed within the pod. Beans, lentils, chickpeas, and split peas are the most common types of pulses. Peanuts, soya beans, and fresh beans and peas are legumes but are not considered pulses.

Pulses and legumes are healthy sources of protein and vitamins

Pulses and legumes are rich in B vitamins, iron, copper, magnesium, manganese, zinc, and phosphorus. They also supply dietary fibre, carbohydrates, and protein. Pulses are not only low in saturated fat but contain very little fat overall. Like all plant-based foods, they are also cholesterol-free.1Polak, R., Phillips, E. M. & A. Campbell (2015): Legumes: Health Benefits and Culinary Approaches to Increase Intake. Clin Diabetes. Verfügbar unter: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4608274/ [24.05.2018] Pulses and legumes are also an excellent source of protein. See the table below for the protein content of various pulses:2United States Department of Agriculture: USDA Food Composition Databases, Verfügbar unter: https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/search/list [24.05.2018]

Preventing and treating diseases with pulses

Due to their low glycemic index and high fibre content, pulses and legumes can reduce blood sugar levels in patients with type 2 diabetes in both the short and long term and, as part of a balanced diet, can reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.3Becerra-Tomás, N., Díaz-López, A. & N. Rosique-Esteban et al. (2017): Legume consumption is inversely associated with type 2 diabetes incidence in adults: A prospective assessment from the PREDIMED study. Clin Nutr. Verfügbar unter: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28392166 [04.06.2018] 4WHO (2016): Global Report on Diabetes. S. 36. Verfügbar unter: http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/204871/9789241565257_eng.pdf%3Bjsessionid=131F7670AEBC4F39A3290A0D0A0E6D11?sequence=1 [04.06.2018] Eating pulses several times a week or, better still, daily, also has a positive effect on blood pressure. This effect is due mainly to the high content of potassium, magnesium, and fibre. In addition, the consumption of soya beans, chickpeas, lentils, and other legumes can also assist with weight loss due to their high content of protein, fibre, and carbohydrates, which increases blood sugar levels slowly, thus fostering a feeling of being full for an extended period of time.5Kristensen, M. D., Bendsen, N. T., Christensen, S. M., Astrup, A. & A. Raben (2016): Meals based on vegetable protein sources (beans and peas) are more satiating than meals based on animal protein sources (veal and pork) – a randomized cross-over meal test study. Food Nutr Res. Verfügbar unter: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5073301/ [04.06.2018] 6Polak, R., Phillips, E. M. & A. Campbell (2015): Legumes: Health Benefits and Culinary Approaches to Increase Intake. Clin Diabetes. Verfügbar unter: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4608274/ [24.05.2018]

Pulses are a healthier source of protein than animal-based food

On average, plant-based foods contain smaller quantities of essential amino acids compared to animal-based foods, with a few exceptions, including soya beans and hemp seeds.7Henkel J. (2000): Soy. Health claims for soy protein, questions about other components. FDA Consum. 34(3):13–15,18–20. 8 Mangels, R., Messina, V. & Messina, M. (2011): The Dietitian’s Guide to Vegetarian Diets (3rd edition). p. 71 However, the biological value of dietary proteins can be increased considerably by combining different protein-containing foods as the amino acids they contain complement each other.9Young, V. R. & P. L. Pellett (1994): Plant proteins in relation to human protein and amino acid nutrition. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 59, p.1203S–1212S 10Marsh, K. A. et al. (2013): Protein and vegetarian diets. Med. J. Aust. 199, p.S7–S10 11Tomé, D. (2013): Digestibility issues of vegetable versus animal proteins: Protein and amino acid requirements – functional aspects. Food and Nutrition Bulletin. 34, p.272–273 Ideally, pulses should be combined with cereals, nuts, seeds, and vegetables, which can also be eaten throughout the day.12American Heart Association (2016): Vegetarian Diets. Verfügbar unter: www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyEating/Vegetarian-Diets_UCM_306032_Article.jsp#.WdZOFdNJbBI [05.07.2018] 13Sanders TA (1999) The nutritional adequacy of plant-based diets. Proc Nutr Soc 58: p. 265–269 The digestibility of pulses’ plant-based protein can be significantly enhanced by cooking, chopping, or soaking them.14Mangels, R., Messina, V. & Messina, M. (2011): The Dietitian’s Guide to Vegetarian Diets (3rd edition). S. 69 A plant-based diet containing regular servings of pulses can provide more than sufficient protein. This is also true pregnancy or periods of strenuous physical activity, both of which require an increase in protein consumption.

In addition to their protein content, the presence of vitamins, minerals, fibre, phytochemicals, carbohydrates, and fats also determines how healthy certain foods are. In these terms, plant-based sources of protein generally perform better than animal-based ones as the latter often contain many unhealthy saturated fats and not as many vitamins, minerals, fibre and phytochemicals. The consumption of animal protein can have several other adverse health effects: increased consumption of red meat, for example, can elevate the risk of developing diabetes and high blood pressure.15Feskens, E. J. M., Sluik, D. & Van Woudenbergh, G.J. (2013): Meat consumption, diabetes, and its complications. Curr Diab Rep. 2013;13(2):298–306. Verfügbar unter: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23354681 [24.05.2018] 16Melina, V., Craig, W. & S. Levin (2016): Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: vegetarian diets. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics. Verfügbar unter: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27886704 [24.05.2018] High meat consumption is also linked to some forms of cancer.17WHO (2015): Q&A on the carcinogenicity of the consumption of red meat and processed meat. Verfügbar unter: http://www.who.int/features/qa/cancer-red-meat/en/ [26.06.2018]

Pulses are also suitable for athletes

Their high protein and carbohydrate content makes legumes a good source of energy for people who engage in competitive or endurance sports since their carbohydrates are digested slowly, thus providing the body with energy for several hours.18Lattimer, J. M. & M. D. Haub (2010): Effects of dietary fiber and its components on metabolic health. Nutrients [Internet]. 2010 Dec 15 [cited 2017 Sep 13];2(12):1266–89. Verfügbar unter: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22254008 [06.06.2018] 19Viguiliouk, E., Stewart, S. E., Jayalath, V. H. et al. (2015): Effect of Replacing Animal Protein with Plant Protein on Glycemic Control in Diabetes: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Nutrients. Verfügbar unter: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4690061/ [06.06.2018] After workouts, it is recommended to consume proteins in conjunction with carbohydrates, which lead to the release of insulin. This has a favourable effect on muscle growth due to the anabolic hormonal effect of insulin.20aschka, C. & S. Ruf (2012): Sport und Ernährung – Wissenschaftlich basierte Empfehlungen und Ernährungspläne für die Praxis, Georg Thieme Verlag KG Stuttgart

Pulses are highly versatile in the kitchen

Due to the large variety of pulses, there are numerous ways to cook with them. Pulses are used in many Indian and Asian dishes. Most legume-based Indian dishes are also generally vegetarian or vegan. Lentils are ideal for vegetable soups or casseroles, for example, while chickpeas can be turned into delicious hummus or a crispy, healthy snack by roasting them. Pulses also present a cruelty-free alternative to meat.21Bittman, M. (2010): Elevating Simple Legumes, Just Enough. The New York Times. Verfügbar unter: https://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/06/dining/06mini.html [06.06.2018] 22DAA (2018): Legumes: what are they and how can I use them? Verfügbar unter: https://daa.asn.au/smart-eating-for-you/smart-eating-fast-facts/food-and-food-products/legumes-what-are-they-and-how-can-i-use-them/ [06.06.2018]

Pulses are a healthy meat alternative

More and more people are questioning the consumption of meat and its effects on animals, the environment, and our health. This is reflected in the increasing demand for meat alternatives. Many supermarkets now offer a wide range of meat alternatives based on legumes.23Schmitt, S. (2017): Marktentwicklung: Das Sortiment wird breiter, In: Lebensmittel Zeitung Lebensmittel Zeitung vom 17.11.2017 Soya beans are used to produce tofu, tempeh, and soya meat, which are particularly popular alternatives to conventional meat. There are also numerous varieties of tofu, including smoked and marinated products flavoured with various herbs and spices. Soya meat (also called textured soya protein) is also available in various forms. Soya strips can be used for plant-based gyros or shawarmas, while soya mince is a great choice for chilli sin carne or veggie bolognese. Black bean burgers are a popular, healthy, and tasty alternative to ready meals and unhealthy fast food, while lupin protein is used to produce cutlets and sausages, among other things.

ProVeg tips for legumes

  • Pulses are a healthy source of protein and a practical alternative to meat. Pulses and legumes, including lentils, beans, peas and lupins, as well as products made from them, such as tofu, soy milk, or tempeh, should be consumed several times a week.
  • Incorporating legumes into your diet can stabilise your blood sugar levels and help you maintain your weight by leaving you feeling full for a long time. Since their carbohydrates pass into the blood slowly, pulses are particularly suitable for type 2 diabetics, and also help to prevent diabetes.24Diabetes UK: Pulses and diabetes. Available at: https://www.diabetes.org.uk/guide-to-diabetes/enjoy-food/eating-with-diabetes/food-groups/pulses-and-diabetes
  • If you suffer from high blood pressure, you should incorporate pulses into your diet since they help to regulate blood pressure.25American Journal of Hypertension (2013): Effect of Dietary Pulses on Blood Pressure: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Controlled Feeding Trials. Available at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5391775/

References   [ + ]

1, 6.Polak, R., Phillips, E. M. & A. Campbell (2015): Legumes: Health Benefits and Culinary Approaches to Increase Intake. Clin Diabetes. Verfügbar unter: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4608274/ [24.05.2018]
2.United States Department of Agriculture: USDA Food Composition Databases, Verfügbar unter: https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/search/list [24.05.2018]
3.Becerra-Tomás, N., Díaz-López, A. & N. Rosique-Esteban et al. (2017): Legume consumption is inversely associated with type 2 diabetes incidence in adults: A prospective assessment from the PREDIMED study. Clin Nutr. Verfügbar unter: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28392166 [04.06.2018]
4.WHO (2016): Global Report on Diabetes. S. 36. Verfügbar unter: http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/204871/9789241565257_eng.pdf%3Bjsessionid=131F7670AEBC4F39A3290A0D0A0E6D11?sequence=1 [04.06.2018]
5.Kristensen, M. D., Bendsen, N. T., Christensen, S. M., Astrup, A. & A. Raben (2016): Meals based on vegetable protein sources (beans and peas) are more satiating than meals based on animal protein sources (veal and pork) – a randomized cross-over meal test study. Food Nutr Res. Verfügbar unter: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5073301/ [04.06.2018]
7.Henkel J. (2000): Soy. Health claims for soy protein, questions about other components. FDA Consum. 34(3):13–15,18–20.
8. Mangels, R., Messina, V. & Messina, M. (2011): The Dietitian’s Guide to Vegetarian Diets (3rd edition). p. 71
9.Young, V. R. & P. L. Pellett (1994): Plant proteins in relation to human protein and amino acid nutrition. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 59, p.1203S–1212S
10.Marsh, K. A. et al. (2013): Protein and vegetarian diets. Med. J. Aust. 199, p.S7–S10
11.Tomé, D. (2013): Digestibility issues of vegetable versus animal proteins: Protein and amino acid requirements – functional aspects. Food and Nutrition Bulletin. 34, p.272–273
12.American Heart Association (2016): Vegetarian Diets. Verfügbar unter: www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyEating/Vegetarian-Diets_UCM_306032_Article.jsp#.WdZOFdNJbBI [05.07.2018]
13.Sanders TA (1999) The nutritional adequacy of plant-based diets. Proc Nutr Soc 58: p. 265–269
14.Mangels, R., Messina, V. & Messina, M. (2011): The Dietitian’s Guide to Vegetarian Diets (3rd edition). S. 69
15.Feskens, E. J. M., Sluik, D. & Van Woudenbergh, G.J. (2013): Meat consumption, diabetes, and its complications. Curr Diab Rep. 2013;13(2):298–306. Verfügbar unter: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23354681 [24.05.2018]
16.Melina, V., Craig, W. & S. Levin (2016): Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: vegetarian diets. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics. Verfügbar unter: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27886704 [24.05.2018]
17.WHO (2015): Q&A on the carcinogenicity of the consumption of red meat and processed meat. Verfügbar unter: http://www.who.int/features/qa/cancer-red-meat/en/ [26.06.2018]
18.Lattimer, J. M. & M. D. Haub (2010): Effects of dietary fiber and its components on metabolic health. Nutrients [Internet]. 2010 Dec 15 [cited 2017 Sep 13];2(12):1266–89. Verfügbar unter: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22254008 [06.06.2018]
19.Viguiliouk, E., Stewart, S. E., Jayalath, V. H. et al. (2015): Effect of Replacing Animal Protein with Plant Protein on Glycemic Control in Diabetes: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Nutrients. Verfügbar unter: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4690061/ [06.06.2018]
20.aschka, C. & S. Ruf (2012): Sport und Ernährung – Wissenschaftlich basierte Empfehlungen und Ernährungspläne für die Praxis, Georg Thieme Verlag KG Stuttgart
21.Bittman, M. (2010): Elevating Simple Legumes, Just Enough. The New York Times. Verfügbar unter: https://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/06/dining/06mini.html [06.06.2018]
22.DAA (2018): Legumes: what are they and how can I use them? Verfügbar unter: https://daa.asn.au/smart-eating-for-you/smart-eating-fast-facts/food-and-food-products/legumes-what-are-they-and-how-can-i-use-them/ [06.06.2018]
23.Schmitt, S. (2017): Marktentwicklung: Das Sortiment wird breiter, In: Lebensmittel Zeitung Lebensmittel Zeitung vom 17.11.2017
24.Diabetes UK: Pulses and diabetes. Available at: https://www.diabetes.org.uk/guide-to-diabetes/enjoy-food/eating-with-diabetes/food-groups/pulses-and-diabetes
25.American Journal of Hypertension (2013): Effect of Dietary Pulses on Blood Pressure: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Controlled Feeding Trials. Available at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5391775/
Top