Embrace these mighty legumes
Matthew Kadey, MSc, RD
Add some spring green to your plate with legumes. They may be small, but these beans and lentils pack a nutritional wallop.
Now that spring is in the air, more verdant days will soon be upon us. So why not give your diet an early shot of green by infusing recipes with green legumes?
From lima beans to green lentils, these unsung heroes of the supermarket are nutritional heavy-hitters and can enliven a range of dishes with their earthy flavours. And with more families watching their food budgets, green legumes continue to be priced right.
Get a Legume Up
These green legumes provide a dynamic trio of versatility on the kitchen, good taste, and a lundry list of vital nutrients.
|Edamame||Japan’s favourite legume is a green soybean that is harvested before fully ripe. With a nutty flavour and crisp texture, edamame can be purchased in or out of its pod in the freezer section of many grocery stores. The beans are a treasure trove of must-have nutrients including fibre, protein, vitamin C, magnesium, potassium, and folate. If you want to sidestep genetically modified soy, choose organic edamame.||Sneak more in: add to soups, salads, pasta dishes, and hummus recipes. Or enjoy a bowl of edamame with a touch of salt, cayenne, and lemon juice for a healthy afternoon snack.|
|Green lentils||This is the most common lentil type available, with an earthy, somewhat meaty flavour and slightly chewy texture. A mere quarter cup of dry green lentils delivers a whopping 15 g of dietary fibre. A large study in the Archives of Internal Medicine determined that higher intakes of fibre among subjects were protective against death from heart and respiratory diseases.||Sneak more in: use in loafs, soups, stews, salads, and veggie burgers.|
|Mung beans||Probably best known for their sprouts, the often-overlooked small, oval-shaped whole green bean is delicate and slightly sweet in flavour. Mung beans contain a range of good stuff including B vitamins, vitamin K, magnesium, and iron. Also, data suggest eating more pulses, which are the edible seeds of legumes such as mung beans, may positively alter energy expenditure and appetite to help combat obesity.||Sneak more in: work into bean burgers, soups, stir-fries, and sandwich spreads.|
|Lima beans||Rich and buttery, lima beans are named for their native Peru’s capital city. Available frozen out of their pods year round, lima beans may be found fresh during the summer months at farmers’ markets. The emerald legumes are low in calories and abundant in vitamin C, an antioxidant shown to have blood pressure lowering efficacy.||Sneak more in: try in pasta dishes, soups, dips like hummus, and, of course, succotash.|
|Split green peas||These are produced by harvesting fresh peas when mature and then drying them. Once dried, they are split. Nutritional highlights include impressive amounts of phosphorus, folate, manganese, and magnesium. Studies suggest that higher intakes of magnesium, which is an often underconsumed mineral, can be protective against diseases associated with inflammation such as diabetes and cancer. When in season locally, make sure to load up on fresh peas for one of nature’s sweetest treats.||Sneak more in: try split green peas in soups, curries and dal, patties, fritters, and dips.|
Ease muscle soreness with omega-3s
Omega-3s are certainly getting a lot of good press these days. Their anti-inflammatory properties have been shown to promote heart and brain health. But the benefits don’t stop there: these essential fatty acids may also offer support to athletes and those participating in high-impact physical activity by reducing exercise-induced inflammation, thereby easing muscle soreness. This Mediterranean Lima Bean Salmon Salad boasts wild salmon, which is rich in not only inflammation-lowering omega-3 fatty acids, but also muscle-building protein, making it a perfect post-workout meal.