The vegetables they are a plant species of the family leguminosae and they have been consumed for thousands of years by humans and animals.
Among the legumes best known and consumed throughout the world are beans, broad beans (Vicia faba L.), chickpeas (Cicer arietinum L.), peas (Pisum sativum L.), mung beans (Vigna radiata L. .), cowpea (Vigna unguiculata (L.) Walp.), and various varieties of lentils (Lens culinaris Medik).
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Health benefits of legumes
“Legumes are an excellent complementary food for infants and children to meet their daily energy needs.
“Their high nutrient content also makes legumes ideal for vegetarians and vegans, since they ensure sufficient intake of protein, minerals and vitamins,” explains Jessica González, campaign manager in Mexico for Million Dollar Vegan, an international non-profit organization that seeks to raise awareness about how the breeding and consumption of animals affects the environment and human health.
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Healthy and beneficial for health: the nutritional value
Sinaí Morelos *, nutritionist with a focus on plant-based diet with more than 8 years of experience and collaborator of Million Dollar Vegan, has the main nutritional data of legumes:
- They are ideal for people who have diabetes, as they have a low glycemic index, a low fat content and a high fiber content.
- This increases satiety and helps stabilize blood sugar and insulin levels, reducing spikes after eating and improving insulin resistance.
- They can lower the risk of coronary heart disease.
- They have a lot of dietary fiber, known for the positive elements in LDL cholesterol, a risk factor for coronary heart disease.
- They are good sources of vitamins, such as folate, which greatly reduces the risk of birth defects of the neural tube (ATN), such as spina bifida in newborns.
- Their high iron content makes them a powerful food to prevent iron deficiency anemia in women and children.
- When combined with foods that contain vitamin C to improve the absorption of iron.
- They are rich in bioactive compounds such as phytochemicals and antioxidants that may contain antineoplastic properties.
A serving of legumes (1/2 cup) provides between 7-8g of protein.
They are generally very low in fat, less than 5% of your total energy as fat, and rich in minerals such as folate, iron, zinc, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, sodium, zinc, calcium, and copper, as well as phytochemicals.
In addition, they are an excellent source of dietary fiber, one serving provides between 2 to 4g of a mixture of soluble and insoluble fiber.
Legumes have great potential, both in human nutrition due to their various health benefits, as well as their nutritional value
But it is also considered the protein of the future, since its production requires fewer natural resources, creating less waste.
Additionally, many varieties can be sourced locally, making them a more sustainable option.
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A more fertile and healthy soil thanks to legumes
Under the motto “nutritious seeds for a sustainable future”, the UN General Assembly declared 2016 the International Year of Pulses.
This, with the aim of raising awareness about its advantages as part of a nutritious, healthy and sustainable diet, promoting its cultivation and consumption.
“Soils and legumes embody a unique symbiosis that protects the environment:
“Increases productivity, contributes to adaptation to climate change and provides essential nutrients to the soil and subsequent crops”, assured the Director General of FAO, José Graziano da Silva.
On average, cereals grown after legumes produce 1.5 tons more per hectare.
In addition, they host special soil bacteria that allow the biological fixation of nitrogen, through a process of natural symbiosis that, if it did not exist, would cost an additional US $ 10 billion a year in synthetic fertilizers.
Introducing legumes as an intercropping, cover crop, and in crop rotation can help restore soil health.
Some of them are nitrogen fixing plants that benefits soil health, leading to better growing conditions for them and other plants.
Likewise, they promote the sequestration of carbon from the soil and the filtration of water to make it cleaner.
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