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.
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?
Eating legumes as part of a balanced diet is beneficial.
But, what are the specific health benefits of including legumes in your diet?
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:
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?
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:
And so, can be considered healthier if your goal is to lose weight.
Some legumes are high 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|
|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|
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?
Legumes are cheap, easy to grow, nutritious, and delicious.
But is it ok to eat legumes everyday or, is it bad for you?
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?
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?
According to Harvard Medical School, anti-inflammatory foods include:
- Olive oil
- Leafy green vegetables
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?
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?
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?
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?
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.
I’m Chris Watson & the Founder of EatForLonger.com. I’m a food and wellbeing enthusiast researching and sharing foodstuffs and simple food-based concepts, such as fasting and clean eating.
I hope it inspires you to make tiny changes to what you eat and when you eat while optimizing your healthspan and all-around well-being.
Read more About Me here.