Research suggests that upping your intake of legumes and pulses can lower your risk of heart disease, reduce over-eating and increase energy—among many other health benefits. Here are our top picks, plus tips on how to enjoy them.

Black beans

Consumption of black beans is associated with lower colon cancer incidence—possibly because they’re especially good at feeding the friendly bacteria that keep our colons healthy.

Why not try black bean soup for a warming mid-week meal? Simply combine the beans with some vegetables and stock and heat through.

Read more: 10 Tips for growing beans

 

Chickpeas

This humble legume contains a good ratio of protein and carbohydrate, plus a little fat, which helps keep you satiated.

In fact, a study found that people who had chickpeas in their diet ate less overall, helping to keep body weight lower. Blend chickpeas with olive oil, lemon, garlic and tahini for an easy hummus dip.

 

Lentils

These are rich in both soluble and insoluble fibre, which not only help to keep you regular, but can also lower cholesterol.

Lentils soak up flavours easily, so are perfect for adding to casseroles and stews.

 

Kidney beans

These starchy beans provide a steady, slow-release source of energy while keeping your blood sugar stable. This means they could be particularly beneficial to type-2 diabetics, or those who regularly experience energy crashes. What’s more, they’re also a good source of the essential mineral iron. Try swapping beef for kidney beans to make a tasty vegetarian chilli.

 

Butter beans

The largest of the legumes on our list—which are renowned for their smooth, buttery texture—are not only a good source of protein, but also manganese.

This trace mineral is an important factor of antioxidant defence, helping you to ward off everything from colds to wrinkles. Cook butter beans with butternut squash, coconut milk and spices for a delicious curry.

 

Read more from Fiona Hicks

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