Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Legumes. What are they and why should I eat more of them?

Earlier in the blog I talked about increasing consumption of legumes. These are foods such as beans, peas and lentils. So why are these food better for us than our more usual potato, bread or rice? Well, because they are not quickly absorbed by the gut, they keep blood sugar stable. They also reduce our capacity to produce excess protein. Producing proteins in excess leads to ageing. Mice on a diet low in methionine lived longer. Methionine is a starter amino acid for protein production. Legumes have only very small quantities of it. 

A study showed that people who substituted a portion of rice, bread or potato for beans, peas or lentils every day had a 35% less chance of getting metabolic syndrome. This is where blood pressure is high, the person becomes resistant to insulin and becomes overweight.

So the science points to eating more peas, beans and lentils. It is relatively easy to substitute a portion of legumes for rice, pasta, bread or potato every day. In fact, we can cook legumes in a way which gives them more flavour than the rather bland carbohydrates we are used to eating. A helping of green broad beans, for example, lightly steamed then quickly stir fried in avocado oil with a few chilli flakes, a dash of sea salt and a dusting of freshly ground pepper is a worthy competitor against pasta or rice for taste any day.

I have experimented with different ways of making legumes a little more interesting, and now, I don't see the gap where I used to think the potato, rice or pasta should go. It's a case of doing it and changing those patterns of a lifetime. I am definitely starting to get there.

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