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How Healthy Are Legumes? [Anti Inflammatory Benefits]

How Healthy Are Legumes

I’ve eaten legumes most of my life, but recently I’ve been learning about the nutrients in different foods, and was curious about how healthy legumes actually are.

I looked into the research and here’s what I found.

Adding legumes to your diet has been shown to reduce and prevent a range of health conditions.

Also, legumes are known to be a good source of fiber, phosphorus, magnesium, copper, iron, B vitamins, protein, carbohydrates.

They are also low in fat, and don’t contain any saturated fat.

Certain legumes can be considered to be healthier than others, and you may be curious about whether it’s OK to eat legumes everyday.

Below, I will explain more about the benefits of eating legumes, what legumes are the healthiest to eat, whether it’s ok to eat legumes everyday, and whether legumes are inflammatory.

What Are the Benefits of Eating Legumes?

What Are the Benefits of Eating Legumes

Eating legumes as part of a balanced diet is beneficial.

But, what are the specific health benefits of including legumes in your diet?

Overall, it has been shown in studies that eating legumes:

  • Lowers the risk of developing type 2 diabetes
  • Lowers cholesterol/keeps it at healthy levels
  • Helps with maintain a healthy blood pressure
  • Good for weight management

Type 2 diabetes develops when a person’s body cannot absorb the sugars it needs.

And is thought to be the result of eating too much sugar, which lowers your body’s ability to process sugar.

So, one way of thinking about eating legumes is that you are replacing potential unhealthy foods with a healthy option.

It is known that cooked foods have less nutrients than raw foods.

And so replacing fried potato crisps, potato chips, or a sugary candy bar with some fresh beans straight from the pod, or some lightly boiled peas will overall lead to better health.

However, to get the full picture you’ll need to do a nutrient breakdown of your diet, and look at the various recommendations such as how much of the following nutrients you normally consume:

  • Fiber
  • Protein
  • Calories
  • Sugar

Legumes and other fruits and vegetables for the most part are high in fiber, low in protein, average for calories, and low in sugar.

Certain legumes though, are high in protein, and make them a good option to get the protein you need.

Such as, lentils and soy beans.

Foods and drinks such as candy, sodas sweetened with sugar or corn syrup, and sugary snacks like desserts and donuts contain significantly above average amounts of sugar.

And it’s advised not to consume more than about ½ a cup of these kinds of foods.

As doing so will already bring you up to your recommended daily sugar intake.

Even, without taking into consideration the sugar in other foods that you normally eat.

What Is the Healthiest Legume To Eat?

What Is the Healthiest Legume To Eat

There are many different kinds of legumes, and some are more delicious than others.

However, I wanted to know what the healthiest legume there is to eat.

I looked at hte nutritional information for each and here’s a summary:

The healthiest legumes to eat are peas.

All legumes have around 20% to 50% of your recommended daily intake of beneficial nutrients such as manganese, folate (vitamin B9), magnesium, and iron.

But, peas have significantly less calories that other legumes.

And so, can be considered healthier if your goal is to lose weight.

Some legumes are hig in certain nutrients but low in others. For example, pinto beans have about 3 times as much folate (vitamin B9) as soybeans.

But, have virtually no phosphorus.

Whereas, soy beans have 42% of your recommended daily intake per half cup.

So, to know absolutely which legumes would be the healthiest to eat for you, depends on your specific nutrient levels.

To know that, you need to do a blood panel.

They can cost anywhere from $50 to $100 depending on what you measure.

And it will tell you with extreme precision how your nutrient levels compare to the recommended amounts.

Here’s a table that shows how some common legumes compare based on the amount of nutrients they have:

Soy beans Kidney beans Black beans Peas
Calories 298 215 227 125
Protein 28.6g 13.4g 15.2g 8.2g
Fiber 10.3g 13.6g 15g 8.8g
Folate 23% RDI 23% RDI 64% RDI 24% RDI
Manganese 71% RDI 22% RDI 38% RDI 22% RDI
Thiamine 20% RDI 28% RDI 30% RDI
Copper 17% RDI

RDI = recommended daily intake (source for data).

From the table above you can see that there is quite a bit of difference in the nutrient qualities of different legumes.

If you need more protein in your diet, soybeans are a good option.

But, if you’re wanting to consume less calories than peas are your best option since they have about half the calories of most of the other legumes.

Is It OK To Eat Legumes Everyday?

Is It OK To Eat Legumes Everyday

Legumes are cheap, easy to grow, nutritious, and delicious.

But is it ok to eat legumes everyday or, is it bad for you?

Eating legumes everyday is perfectly fine. The main thing to watch out for is eating only legumes.

Provided you eat other foods and don’t consume more than about 10 cups of legumes a day, you’ll have enough room to eat other foods and maintain a balanced diet.

The average person needs to consume about 4.4 pounds (2kg) of food per day to get enough calories.

Doing that will ensure they maintain a healthy weight. So, you should aim to split this amount into various different types of foods.

Such as fruits, vegetables, meat and fish – if you consume it, and other foods you like to eat such as nuts, dairy, and bread.

Therefore, as long as you don’t consume huge amounts of legumes, which you won’t feel like doing most of the time, you won’t be so full that you can eat other foods.

And as a result, you’ll get all the nutrients you need.

Are Legumes Inflammatory?

Are Legumes Inflammatory

Certain foods are known to cause inflammation which can make existing health conditions worse, such as stomach discomfort, or arthritis.

Legumes are known to be quite healthy, but are they also inflammatory?

Legumes are not inflammatory.

Peanuts are in fact a legume, and research has shown that peanuts can work as an anti-inflammatory.

All other legumes are considered neutral and do not lead to inflammation or act as an anti-inflammatory.

According to Harvard Medical School, anti-inflammatory foods include:

  • Olive oil
  • Leafy green vegetables
  • Nuts
  • Fish
  • Fruits

And they say that foods that are known to CAUSE inflammation are:

  • White bread and pastries
  • Fried foods
  • Cooking fats such as lard, and margarine
  • Sodas sweetened with sugar
  • Red meat

Basically, all the good foods! Certain cultures that eat a lot of meat would have a hard time with that recommendation.

However, it should be noted that there is what is called a carnivore diet, and various people have researched the effect of your blood type on what diet is best for you.

In my opinion, this is a very individual thing, and so at the end of the day you should eat the diet that works best for your body and lifestyle.

Are Refried Beans Anti Inflammatory?

Are Refried Beans Anti Inflammatory

Refried beans are a delicious way to eat beans, and is a very popular dish in Latin American cuisine.

But, does eating refried beans lead to inflammation?

Refried beans are not anti-inflammatory.

However, refried beans are typically made with olive oil which is recommended as an anti-inflammatory.

But, the beans themselves which make up most of the recipe neither lead to inflammation nor reduce inflammation.

This is also true regardless of what beans you use to make refried beans.

Certain beans have a buttery taste such as pinto beans and cannellini beans, and for that reason pinto beans are typically more delicious to use in refried beans.

Can you lose weight eating legumes?

Can you lose weight eating legumes

When it comes to weight loss, what you eat can be just as important as how much exercise you get.

So, are legumes good for losing weight?

Overall, legumes are good for losing weight.

Eating fruits and vegetables has been shown to cause no significant change to a person’s normal body composition.

Therefore, eating legumes will not lead to weight gain and contribute to losing weight.

A way I like to think about weight gain and weight loss is using the analogy of petrol in a car.

Once you use up all the fuel in a car by driving it, it will tap into the reserves, and then eventually stop working.

With weight loss, when you eat slightly under what you need your body will tap into your reserve tank or fat stores.

So, all things being even, legumes can lead to weight loss as long as you still stay within a healthy calorie range throughout the day.

For example, if you eat a cup of legumes with a meal, but eat high calorie foods like chocolate bars, and donuts you’ll still consume more calories that you burn off.

And eating legumes or not won’t cause weight loss.