Grains Research and Development

Date: 07.09.2012

For the love of legumes

Author: Michelle Broom, Nutrition manager, Grains & Legumes Nutrition Council
Spoon of various beans and legumes

Maybe you grow legumes or maybe you feed them to livestock, but did you know that legumes are also a great addition to your diet? Legumes are inexpensive, good for you and full of nutrients. But, according to a consumption study commissioned by the Grains & Legumes Nutrition Council, many Australians do not eat legumes regularly so are missing out on the benefits.1

So what is so good about legumes and how do you eat them? We have answered some of the common questions here, but you can also visit our website to find out more at www.glnc.org.au.

What is a legume?

Legumes, also called pulses, are from the Fabaceae botanical family. Some Australian-grown legumes include chickpeas, lentils, mungbeans and lupins.

What is so good about legumes?

Grains & Legumes Nutrition Council logo - "Cultivating Good Health"Legumes are an important part of the ‘Mediterranean diet’ and people who eat them tend to be a healthier weight and less likely to develop heart disease, diabetes or some cancers.2 Legumes are also a great bang for your buck. Bringing down the cost of your family meal is as easy as replacing some meat with kidney beans, lentils or chickpeas.

Are legumes difficult to cook?

Most dried legumes need to be soaked to make them easier to digest and absorb the nutrients. But split peas and lentils do not need to be soaked, just boil them for about 20 minutes or add them directly to your casserole as it cooks.

No time to soak? You can buy canned legumes such as kidney beans, chickpeas or lentils, which can be added straight into stews, soups or salads. They even come in single-serve sizes, perfect for the lunch box.

How much do I need?

Aiming for at least two serves of legumes a week is a good start, but four times a week is best. One serve is equal to 75 grams or half a cup of cooked beans, peas or lentils.

Will they give me gas?

Not everyone gets gas from legumes and most people adjust after a few weeks. So, do not rush in and eat legumes three times a day. Start off slowly by eating them once a week, drink plenty of water and exercise.

Try these tips to reduce gas:

  • change the water once or twice while they soak;
  • when you are ready to cook, drain the soaked legumes and use fresh water for cooking; and
  • if you are using canned legumes, rinse them before adding to your meal.

Did you know?

Australia is the world’s leading chickpea exporter and among the top five producers of faba beans in the world.3

1 Colmar Brunton, Project Go Grain, 2011

2 Go Grains Health & Nutrition, The Grains and Legumes Health Report, 2010
3 Pulse Australia

www.grdc.com.au/GCTV

 Breakfast ideas Lunch ideas  Dinner ideas  For the kids

Adding legumes is easy...

Baked beans on toast Split pea and ham soup Beef and lentil pot pies Chickpea and lamb meatballs: replace some mince with half a can of chickpeas, mashed
Baked eggs with butter beans Roast lamb, hummus and salad sandwich Chilli con carne with kidney beans Stuffed baked potatoes with baked beans
Toasted lupin bread  Tuna pasta salad with four-bean mix Chickpea couscous with grilled lamb chops Roasted soy nut snack

Region National, Overseas