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  Diet & Nutrition

April 2011
Nutan Sehgal
Beans and legumes are a powerhouse of energy and contain a variety of heart-healthy nutrients and vitamins…

Some nutritionists term them as near-perfect foods. Legumes and beans pack a punch of energy and contain a wide array of nutrients including many essential vitamins. They are a great source of protein and dietary fibre and are among the top scorers in the list of superfoods, which are low in calories and high in nutrients.

An increasing number of doctors and dieticians are suggesting eating a variety of legumes and beans to combat an array of dangerous diseases. Studies have shown that if consumed regularly, legumes can dramatically reduce incidence of heart disorders, control blood sugar, reduce the risk of some forms of cancer and improve cholesterol levels.
So, which are the legumes that are most beneficial for the human body? Here’s a power list of beans and legumes that are bursting with energy.

Though categorised with nuts, peanuts are technically legumes and are a storehouse of monounsaturated fat which is great for the health of your heart. Peanuts lower bad cholesterol levels while raising the good one. They are an excellent source of Vitamin B, including folate, riboflavin and niacin, all of which ensure a strong heart and a healthy body. Studies suggest that peanuts help reduce coronary risk factors by lowering blood cholesterol levels.

In addition to being a nutritious food, soybeans are often called vegetarian meat and are one of the richest sources of vegetarian protein. They also contain cholesterol free oil, carbohydrates, high amounts of minerals, vitamins, calcium and iron. They have twice as much protein as pulses, meat and fish; thrice as much as eggs and more than ten times that of milk. Soybean oil contains the essential fatty acids which are not produced by the body, but nevertheless required for human health.

Kidney Beans
Considered one of the best anti-ageing foods, kidney beans are a rich source of antioxidants and heart-healthy proteins. They have a low glycemic index and get digested slowly thereby stabilising blood sugar levels. They are high in potassium which helps control blood pressure. Kidney beans are also a great source of zinc which is beneficial for the eyes. They also contain significant quantities of vitamins B1, B6 and folate which boost immunity and memory.

Considered one of the best sources of folic acid, manganese, iron, copper and zinc, a serving of chickpeas fulfils almost half of the daily requirement of fibre in the body. Being loaded with B Complex vitamins and proteins, they offer protection against colon cancer and breast cancer in women. They protect against onset of osteoporosis and if taken regularly, they improve the levels of good cholesterol in the body.

Moong Beans
One of the most nutritious legumes, the tiny moong beans have curative powers and great nutritional value. They contain complex carbohydrates that improve digestion and help in the metabolism of proteins. Being rich in vitamin C, iron, zinc, potassium, magnesium, copper, manganese, phosphorus and thiamine, moong beans help formation of red blood cells in the body and also strengthen the immune system.

Most doctors say that though beans are not curative in themselves but taken regularly they account for good health and prevent and fight onslaught of a number of diseases.

Hippocrates once said, “Let healthy food be your medicine rather than medicine be your food!” By consuming legumes, you can be sure that you are taking small pills of health.

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