Lentils, beans, peas & Co. - legumes for a healthy diet

Legumes belong to the family of legumes - the so-called legumes - which fulfill an important function in agriculture. They form a connection with bacteria. These bacteria accumulate nitrogen from the air in the roots, giving the plant its nutrients. The soil condition improves.

Lentils, beans, peas & Co. - legumes for a healthy diet
Lentils, beans, peas & Co. - legumes for a healthy diet

Because legumes play an important role worldwide as a supplier of vegetable protein, minerals, vitamins, and amino acids, especially in countries where the population has little or no meat, they are an essential staple food. The legumes, which are among the oldest cultivated plants on earth, are mainly planted by small farmers in poorer countries, as they produce large harvests on small fields.

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To raise public awareness of the importance of legumes as a staple food, the United Nations declared 2016 the International Year under the slogan "Nutritious plants for a sustainable future".

Peas, lentils, soybeans, beans, and peanuts are enjoying growing popularity in Central Europe, not only among vegans but also among consumers who want to eat healthily for various reasons. The B vitamins support brain functions. In the case of widespread diseases such as cardiovascular problems and diabetes, they help the population to eat more consciously. Because about 30% of the calories contained in legumes are not utilized by the body, they also help with weight loss.

Lentils – rich in vitamin B and fiber

Stupidity seldom yields interest,

otherwise, Esau would not renounce his birthright

for a plate of thick lentils. Albert Lortzing - The Armourer

Lentils - and also peas - have been on the menu in the Middle East, in the area around Israel and Palestine, for 8000 years. The fruit is mentioned early in the Old Testament when Jacob bought his older brother Esau's birthright in exchange for a plate of lentils. Lentils get by with little water, which is an important factor, especially in dry regions. As early as 3000 years ago, lentil seeds were added to burials in Egypt as food for the dead.

  In Europe, we mainly eat red and yellow lentils as well as plate lentils. Small lentils in particular are valued because of the high proportion of flavoring substances in the shell that improves the taste. The cellulose contained in the lentils can cause flatulence. Lentils in soups, stews, salads, patties, or casseroles along with vegetables and/or bacon there are plenty of legume recipes to try.
Dried lentils, stored in a cool and dry place, often keep for years. When buying and storing peeled legumes, care should be taken to ensure that the packaging is light-tight, as otherwise the protein structures can change and vitamins can also be lost. Traces of flour in the packaging can be a sign of parasite infestation. Peeled products have a shelf life of six months.

Beans - anything but poor man's food

The original form of the bean, which is still cultivated there today, comes from the Andes. It came to Europe in the 16th century. There are about 500 types of beans, sweet, mild, and aromatic, from small to large. Her good taste makes her popular. However, they should never be eaten raw because the nitrogen they contain renders phasing, essential amino acids, ineffective. Phasing is destroyed during cooking. The carbohydrates contained in the beans cannot be adequately broken down by enzymes. As a result, bloating can occur. Therefore, beans should be cooked with savory, cumin, rosemary, or mustard seeds. Pectins, which are found in beans as dietary fiber, slow down the absorption of carbohydrates in the body.

Peas – low in fat but high in protein

The pea, which became popular in Europe in the 12th century, was considered a symbol of fertility because of its round shape. Around 250 varieties of green or yellow peas are available as a vegetable throughout the year. If the fruits are seven millimeters in size, they are called Victoria peas. As they get bigger, they soften when cooked and contain more starch and nicotinic acid (niacin), better known as vitamin B3, the sole active ingredient.

100 g of green, young peas contain 6.6 g of protein, a value that is much higher the larger the pea gets. However, at the same time the acid content increases, which in turn is more difficult to digest. We should therefore prefer young peas as a more digestible food or as a remedy. We should consume the green balls preventively and supportively in the case of arteriosclerosis, lipid metabolism, circulatory disorders, fears, and nervousness, as well as sleep disorders. The thiamine content of the pea is said to protect against insect bites as well as hair loss. So eat more pea soup instead of ice cream in the summer?

Peanuts - the unknown legume with a lot of energy

 About 3,500 years ago, the Incas laid peanuts in the graves of their deceased as food for the journey. Spanish conquerors took the plant home with them. From there it spread to Africa, where it was even suspected that it had a soul. They came to America on slave ships. Because the value of the new food was recognized, the consumption of peanuts increased enormously, especially as a result of the civil war.

Peanuts grow underground and develop into finished fruit within 4-5 months. When the above-ground flower has withered, it burrows itself into the ground. There it develops into a fruit, which is then dug out of the ground when ripe.

Peanuts are made up of half fat, one-fourth protein, and about one-eighth carbohydrate, with the rest broken down into other essential minerals. They are therefore a valuable protein food for vegetarians and vegans. Because of their high-calorie content - more than one bar of chocolate per 100 g - they should be consumed sparingly.

Vitamins B3, E, and zinc are abundant in peanuts. Zinc renews the tissue. Vitamin E is an antioxidant that can help keep the coronary arteries healthy. Vitamin B3 supports the performance of the nervous system and contributes to better skin care.

Peanuts processed into peanut butter and oil are enjoying increasing popularity. Because the fruit has to dry for three weeks before being processed into oil, it loses a lot of water, so the unsaturated fatty acids in the peanut predominate. The high proportion of these fatty acids can lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. The vitamin E contained in the peanut strengthens the immune system.

To make peanut butter, these are roasted in a pan. Depending on how high the proportion of nuts should be, the cooled peanuts are then put into the blender together with salt and oil and are crushed there.

As the ideal winter vegetable, all legumes are gaining in popularity for their health benefits. But legumes are also making a comeback among young people: lupine schnitzel is particularly popular with vegans. Quick and easy to prepare, they are a real alternative to the animal version.

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