Legumes loom large in diets around the world, but unfortunately, not so much here in America. Legumes are plants with seed pods that split in two. Edible legumes include beans, peas, lentils, soybeans, and peanuts. (Since peanuts are so nutritionally close to tree nuts we will discuss them in another article about nuts.)
Seed pods that split in two are one of the cheapest forms of protein and fiber you can add to your diet. They're also one of the most effective edible weapons against cardiovascular heart disease, diabetes, and prostate cancer.
Legumes are unique little packages of nutrients, essential minerals, dietary fiber, phytochemicals, and unsaturated fats. All varieties of edible legumes work to reduce the risk of chronic diseases.
Beans are rich in soluble fiber which helps lower cholesterol and are packed with folate, magnesium, and potassium, which help fight cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure. In 1999, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the following health claim: "Diets low in saturated fat and cholesterol that includes 25 grams of soy protein a day may reduce the risk of heart disease". Soybeans have attracted a lot of attention in the last 10 years; they are a unique source of phytoestrogens known as isoflavones, which are missing in most other legumes.
Replacing foods that are high in saturated fat or refined carbohydrates for beans, peas, soy, and lentils could help lower the risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and help reduce the risk of prostate cancer in men.
When you combine more exercise, reducing the time on an ipod for physical activites, add in the inexpensive cost of legumes with their healthy nutrients and fiber, and you can see what a bargain this food group is.
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