Written by Alessa Wilson
Legumes, also known as pulses, are a group of plant foods that are packed with nutrients. Some common legumes are peas, chickpeas, and lentils. Among their benefits are their ability to maintain heart health, reduce cancer risk, prevent fatty liver, and manage weight. They have a low carbon footprint and are helpful crops to grow. This makes them economical, easy to find, and versatile, making them a great option and addition to any diet. You can read more about how they’re grown here.
While legumes are healthy for everyone, men and women have slightly different nutritional needs – and women especially can benefit from eating legumes. Here’s how:
Benefits of legumes for women
Legumes prevent anaemia
Anaemia is a condition where a person has a low number of red blood cells. This results in symptoms like lightheadedness, cold hands and feet, and pale or yellow skin. This feature by WebMD shows that anaemia is caused by iron deficiency — and that women are at a higher risk of having low iron because they lose blood through their monthly cycle. Consuming iron-rich legumes like lentils, peas, and tofu help balance out deficiencies.
Legumes can maintain bone health
Women tend to have lower bone density, meaning they have a higher risk of fractures or osteoporosis when they grow older. To help reduce these risks, legumes contain calcium, which is a mineral that’s mostly known to help in bone and tooth health. Fortunately, several legumes are packed with calcium. You can look to chickpeas, white beans, and red beans to get your fill of daily calcium.
Legumes help ensure the growth of a healthy foetus
A pregnant woman will need to consume more nutrients than non-pregnant women since they need to support a growing fetus. Legumes are rich in various nutrients important in pregnancy, but something that can be especially helpful is folate or folic acid. This is a key vitamin in red blood cell formation, as well as healthy cell growth and function. While supplements for other nutrients can be taken during pregnancy, a woman must take 400 micrograms of folate daily even before they’re pregnant. The vitamin is most needed in the first few weeks of pregnancy, way before a woman even knows they’re pregnant. Folate deficiency can cause a fetus to have major birth defects in the brain and spine.
Legumes help ensure healthy hormones
Researchers conducted an observational study in around 14,000 women and found that a high intake of healthy foods such as oily fish, and legumes like peas, green beans can help in delaying the onset of menopause.
Consuming adequate amounts of protein is extremely important.
Not only does protein provide essential amino acids that your body can’t make on its own, but your body also needs it to produce protein-derived hormones — also known as peptide hormones. Your endocrine glands make these hormones from amino acids. Peptide hormones play a crucial role in regulating many physiological processes, such as growth, energy metabolism, appetite, stress, and reproduction. For example, protein intake influences hormones that control appetite and food intake, communicating information about energy status to your brain.
Experts recommend eating a minimum of 20–30 grams of protein per meal. You can do this by including high protein foods such as eggs, chicken breast, lentils, or fish at each meal.
Ways to eat legumes
As mentioned earlier, legumes are easy to incorporate into your diet. Below are a few things you can try:
Make rice cooker lentils
Lentils are typically boiled then simmered until tender, checking on them the whole time. But these days, you can actually cook lentils in rice cookers to make the process easier. This article shows that modern rice cookers can also act as steamers and pressure cookers, able to handle things other than rice, such as meat, vegetables, and other kinds of grains. To cook lentils in a rice cooker, just pop them in a rice cooker alongside other ingredients you’d like — such as vegetable stock, bay leaves, and garlic. Set it to Grain or High mode and leave it for 40 minutes, and you’re done.
Try legume pasta
If you want an easy way to eat them, these products can give you that. Our legume pasta is made from pure legumes, such as green peas, chickpeas, or lentils, they’re handmade and give a healthier alternative to their carbohydrate counterparts. They’re easy to cook, taking only eight to ten minutes. You can enjoy them with your favourite sauces or even with just olive oil.
Snack on chickpeas
Chickpeas are easy to prepare — you can just roast them and eat them as is. Alternatively, this recipe shows you how you can make hummus using chickpeas as well. Soak the chickpeas in twice the volume of cold water mixed with a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda for 24 hours. Drain and cook, then drain again before peeling. Make the tahini paste, then puree the chickpeas with it. And you’re done.Add garlic for extra zing!
Article written for the exclusive use of happyearthpeople.com.
About the Author:
Alessa Wilson is a freelance writer who enjoys urban gardening in her spare time.
She developed an interest in nutrition a few years ago when she was rethinking how to improve their diet at home with ageing parents and growing kids.