Thursday, 12 April 2012

Pittsburgh Personal Trainer- Breaks Down Legumes' Nutritional Value - Health

The Protein & Fiber Fit Food Group Legumes --more commonly known as beans, are good sources of protein and fiber. Legumes are a low-fat, low-cholesterol substitute for meat. When was the last time you ate chickpeas, navy beans or black-eyed peas? Has it been days, weeks or even months? Legumes are among the most versatile and nutritious foods available. They're good sources of protein and can be a healthy substitute for meat, which has more fat and cholesterol. Rediscover legumes and all the nutrition and versatility they have to offer. Why eat legumes? Legumes -- a class of vegetables that includes beans, peas and lentils -- are typically low in fat, contain no cholesterol, and are high in protein, folate, potassium, iron and magnesium. They also have phytochemicals, a group of compounds that may help prevent chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and cancer. In addition, they're a good source of fiber -- the part of plant-based foods that your body doesn't diges t. A diet high in fiber can reduce your risk of developing diabetes and help lower blood cholesterol levels, which can reduce your risk of heart disease. Soybeans, one type of legume, are unique among beans because they contain all of the amino acids needed to make a complete protein, just like meat. They also contain isoflavones, a plant-based compound that may reduce the risk of some types of cancer. What are some common legumes? Black beans are medium-sized, oval beans with black skin. They have a slightly sweet flavor and are used in soups, beans and rice, and many Mexican, Caribbean, and Latin American dishes. Black-eyed peas are medium-sized, oval beans that are cream colored with a black dot. They have a sharp flavor and smooth texture. They are usually served with rice or eaten as a side dish. Garbanzo beans, also called chickpeas, are medium-sized, round beans that are beige in color. They have a nutty flavor and firm texture. Garbanzo beans are used in soups, salad s, Mexican dishes, and popular Middle Eastern dishes like hummus and falafel. Kidney beans, also called Mexican red beans, are large and kidney-shaped with a strong flavor and soft texture. Kidney beans are used in soups, salads, chili, Creole dishes, and traditional rice and beans. Lentils are lens-shaped seeds found in the fruit pods of an annual herb grown in southwestern Asia. There are two common types of lentils - one is small and brown and the other is larger and yellow. Lentils taste great in side dishes, soups, and stews. Navy beans are small, white, oval beans with a mild flavor and powdery texture. They are used to make baked beans, soups, and stews. Pinto beans are medium-sized, oval beans with a spotty beige and brown color. They turn completely brown when cooked and are used to make refried beans and other Mexican bean dishes. Add more legumes to your diet Consider these ways to incorporate legumes into your meals and snacks: Prepare soups, stews and casseroles that feature legumes. Stir-fry extra-firm or firm tofu rather than meat in oriental dishes. Freezing and then thawing tofu before use gives it a firmer, chewier texture. Use pureed beans as the basis for dips and spreads. Replace eggs in baking recipes with 1 tablespoon of soy flour and 2 tablespoons of water for each egg. Add chickpeas or black beans to salads. Snack on a handful of soy nuts rather than on chips or crackers. Use tofu in place of half the ground beef for meatloaf or tacos. Add garbanzos or other canned beans to your salad. If you typically buy a salad at work and no beans are available, bring beans from home in a small container. If you can't find a particular type of legume in the store, you can easily substitute one type of legume for another. For example, pinto and black beans are good substitutes for red kidney beans. And cannellini, lima beans and navy beans are easily interchangeable. Experiment with what types of legumes you like best in your recipes to make your meals and snacks both nutritious and interesting.

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