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Beans and other legumes: Types and tasty tips

Beans and other legumes: Types and tasty tips

By Mayo Clinic staff

This guide describes common types of beans and legumes, tips for preparing them and ways to add more legumes to your meals and snacks.

Legumes — a class of vegetables that includes beans, peas and lentils — are among the most versatile and nutritious foods available. Legumes are typically low in fat, contain no cholesterol, and are high in folate, potassium, iron and magnesium. They’re also a good source of protein and can be a healthy substitute for meat, which has more fat and cholesterol. If you want to add more beans and other legumes to your diet, you might be wondering what types of legumes are available and how to best prepare them. This guide can help.

Types of legumes Many supermarkets and food stores stock a wide variety of legumes — both dried and canned — for greater versatility in cooking. Below are several of the more common types and their uses.

Images © Dole Food Company Inc. Used with permission.

Preparing legumes Beans and other large, dried legumes, such as chickpeas and black-eyed peas, require soaking in room temperature water, a step that rehydrates them for more even cooking. Soak the legumes in water for about six to eight hours or soak them overnight. Another way to rehydrate beans is to place them in water and bring to a boil for two minutes. Then cover and let the beans soak for an hour. Once rehydrated, the beans are ready to cook. “Quick-cooking” legumes have already been presoaked and redried and don’t need extra soaking. Canned legumes make quick additions to dishes that don’t require long simmering. Rinse prepared and canned legumes well to remove any sodium added during processing.

Beans and other legumes can lead to the formation of intestinal gas. Here are several ways to reduce the flatulence-inducing quality of legumes:

Adding more legumes to your diet Consider these ways to incorporate more legumes into your meals and snacks: • Prepare soups, stews and casseroles that feature legumes. • Use pureed beans as the basis for dips and spreads. • Add chickpeas or black beans to salads. • Snack on a handful of soy nuts rather than on chips or crackers. • Add garbanzos or other canned beans to your salad. If you typically buy a salad at work and no beans are available, bring beans from home in a small container. If you can’t find a particular type of legume in the store, you can easily substitute one type of legume for another. For example, pinto and black beans are good substitutes for red kidney beans. And cannellini, lima beans and navy beans are easily interchangeable. Experiment with what types of legumes you like best in your recipes to make your meals and snacks both nutritious and interesting.

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1. Beans are Making a Comeback! « My Gift of Cancer - May 3, 2009

[…] digestion, health, vegetarian trackback Check out a great article from the Mayo Clinic called: “Beans and other legumes: Types and tasty tips”. Beans are cheap and nutritious and can be served many different ways. They’re great for […]


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