Why legumes are the superheroes of the protein family

The five best legumes for your protein intake.

  • What are legumes?
  • Examine which legumes have the most protein if you’re looking for a meat substitute.
  • Try an appetizing recipe for garbanzo bean and pepper salad.

[3 MIN READ]

Incorporating legumes into your diet is an excellent way to boost your health. Foods such as beans and nuts are solid sources of protein that have less saturated fat and cholesterol than animal protein. In addition, legumes are often filled with fiber to aid your digestion and help reduce your risk of heart disease. But first, let’s find out what a legume is.  

What are legumes, you may ask?

A legume is known as a plant in the family Fabaceae (or Leguminosae) or the seed or fruit of this type of plant. There are a wide variety of foods that are known as legumes. Some examples include:

  • Beans
  • Peas
  • Chickpeas
  • Lentils
  • Soybeans
  • Peanuts

Legumes boost your health and extend your lifespan

Researchers have found that you may be able to extend your lifespan if you eat a more plant-based diet including nuts and beans versus mostly animal-based protein and processed meats. If you already follow a vegan diet, or are considering incorporating more plant-based alternatives, look to legumes to support your nutrition with the essential antioxidants, nutrients and protein that your body needs to stay healthy and balanced.

Researchers have found that you may be able to extend your lifespan if you eat a more plant-based diet including nuts and beans versus mostly animal-based protein and processed meats. 

Below, we outline the top five nutrient-rich legumes you can add to your diet to promote longevity and overall health.

1. Garbanzo beans

Garbanzo beans (or chickpeas) are packed with nutrients and are extremely healthy for you. For example, 28 grams of chickpeas has 3 grams of protein, 2 grams of fiber, and is full of folate, iron and magnesium. Compare this to one-quarter of a hamburger, which has about 5 grams of protein. An entire hamburger has only 1.1 grams of dietary fiber. These hearty beans can also be very filling since they are dense in fiber and protein which can aid and slow down digestion.

Are you looking for a great recipe using garbanzo beans other than hummus? Check out this garbanzo bean and pepper salad.

2. Green peas

If you’re seeking a nutritious vegetable, green peas (or garden peas) are a good option. These vegetables have plenty of fiber and antioxidants and may shield you from serious illnesses such as cancer or cardiovascular disease.

A half a cup of green peas has a total of 4 grams of protein, 4 grams of fiber, and plenty of vitamins, such as A, K and C.

Looking for a tasty way to eat your peas? Try this vegetarian split pea soup recipe.

3. Red kidney beans

The typical red kidney bean packs a punch with healthy benefits. A half a cup of red kidney beans has as much as 7.8 grams of protein and 6.7 grams of fiber. As such, a half a cup of red kidney beans has almost as much protein as about half of a hamburger and six times as much fiber as an entire burger. Red kidney beans also provide plenty of complex carbohydrates, which gives your body with strength and energy.

Try this great recipe using red beans: uptown red beans and rice.

4. Walnuts

Another great source of protein is the walnut. About seven walnuts have 4 grams of protein and 18 grams of fat. Here’s an added bonus: Walnuts are good for your heart because they contain antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids and polyphenols that can reduce inflammation. They’ve also been found to help people manage diabetes and reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

Sprinkle walnuts on your next salad or in your breakfast cereal. Or for a fun and tasty treat, try this English walnut pie

5. Lentils

When it comes to legumes, lentils are the superstars of the family. For instance, lentils will boost your protein intake tremendously since they contain 9.02 grams of protein per half a cup. You’ll also find 20.13 grams of carbohydrates in a half a cup of lentils. These little legumes are great for heart health because of their fiber and potassium content, and they also tout folate, iron, phosphorus, potassium and vitamin B-6.

For a delicious first course, consider making this savor lemon lentil soup recipe.

Legumes to the rescue!

There are several key reasons for eating more legumes, such as:  

They can extend your lifespan. Research has shown that choosing a plant-based diet and having a cup of beans every day can lengthen your lifespan, so be sure to have legumes every day.

Protect your heart. You’ll also find that legumes such as green peas and lentils are great for improving your heart health and preventing your risk of cardiovascular disease.

Healthy source of protein. Incorporating legumes into your diet as a sources of protein and an alternative to red meat can help reduce risk of heart disease and obesity.

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Are you trying to avoid eating red meats? Try incorporating more beans in your diet. Then share your favorite recipes here @providence. #protein

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This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.

About the Author

We are all about food! The Providence Nutrition Team loves to talk about and share our expertise on how to help you find the right diet, food types and maintenance tactics to help you live life to the fullest...while also enjoying the best foods that mother nature has to offer.

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