The Role of Legumes in Our Nutrition

Nutrition is the intake of nutrients necessary for growth, development and a healthy life, in sufficient quantities and using them by the body. It has been scientifically proven that any of these elements are not taken, and when taken more or less than necessary, growth and development are hindered and health deteriorated.

In order to have a healthy diet, we must have both adequate and balanced nutrition. For this, we should include each food group in our diet in a balanced way by paying attention to the food groups and the amounts we should take. One of the most important nutritional groups is legumes. The main legumes we take as food are; lentils, beans, chickpeas, broad beans, black-eyed peas and soybeans. It is recommended to consume twice a week for the daily amount of pulp.


According to their nutritional values, it can be said that legumes generally show the following characteristics:

  • Legumes are low in fat and rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids.

  • Protein values ​​are high. They are very good sources when the diet lacks meat and eggs, or when there is a restriction on fat and cholesterol.

  • To increase the protein quality of dried legumes, it should be consumed by mixing with grains.

  • Cooking water should not be poured to prevent loss of vitamins and minerals. In addition, when it is cooked well, the protein value increases.

  • Legumes are also very good sources of complex carbohydrates and fiber, and naturally they do not contain both cholesterol and fat.

  • Dried legumes are rich in calcium, iron, magnesium and zinc.

  • It is rich in B group vitamins except B12.

  • They contain high levels of lysine amino acid.

  • Dried legumes are difficult to digest because of the antinutritional substances they contain. Therefore, cooking is important.


  1. Proteins

Dried legumes are a cheap and high-quality vegetable protein source. Studies have shown that plant proteins taken instead of animal proteins have a lowering effect on blood cholesterol levels. In legumes, the amount of lysine amino acid is almost equivalent to beef.

Table 1: Comparison of lysine amino acid ratio in proteins of leguminous species with wheat and beef

  1. oils

The fat content of dried legumes is very low. Therefore, they also do not contain cholesterol. Since they do not contain cholesterol, legumes are heart-friendly and a useful option in preventing cardiovascular diseases. They are mostly polyunsaturated fatty acids in oils and contain high levels of linoleic acid. Therefore, their nutritional value is high.

  1. vitamins

Raw legumes are richer in vitamins than dried legumes. However, peeling the shell of legumes increases the vitamin content. Since water-soluble vitamins (B group vitamins) will be lost with cooking water during cooking, cooking water should not be thrown away and should be used.

  1. Folic acid

Folic acid is an important vitamin in the production of healthy cells and is water-soluble because it is among the B group vitamins. Therefore, it does not stay in the body for very long. This is why we can say that it is a vitamin that should be taken every day. It is a daily requirement vitamin. Especially during pregnancy, it must be taken in order to avoid neural tube disorders.

Edible legumes, especially beans, have enough folate to meet half of the daily need in every meal.

  1. Mineral Substances

Legumes are rich in minerals. Minerals found in legumes are potassium, phosphorus, calcium and iron. Since the amount of mineral substance in legumes decreases when the seed pod is removed, the amount of mineral substance mixes with the cooking water during cooking, so the cooking water should not be thrown away.

  1. Carbohydrates and Dietary Fibers

Carbohydrates are polysaccharides such as sugar, starch. Starch is the most important part of legumes and varies according to legume types. The carbohydrate part of the legume performs very important functions. These are water absorption, swelling and solubility, gelanization and stickiness, oil absorption and structural characteristics. Cooking facilitates the digestion of carbohydrates. The most important part of carbohydrates is dietary fiber, which is the indigestible organic part of food. Dietary fibers are cellulose, hemicellulose, pectin and lignin. Among these, lignin is not the only carbohydrate. We can say that the reason for many diseases such as constipation, diverticulosis, hemorrhoids, diabetes, obesity, bowel cancer and cardiovascular diseases is low fiber consumption besides refined foods. For this reason, we should consume legumes regularly and in balance for fiber intake.

In addition to providing calories, legumes are also a source of important B-complex vitamins, mineral matter, fiber and vegetable protein with potential value for human nutrition. Legumes have superior nutritional value with their high protein content, high protein digestibility and richness in essential amino acids. Benefit from legumes is limited due to antinutritional factors. Among the antinutritional factors are phytates, polyphenols, enzyme inhibitors (trypsin, chymotrypsin, α-amylase) and hemagglutinins.

In attempts to increase the usefulness of legumes for purposes such as increasing the nutritional value and digestibility of legumes, a wide range of processing techniques such as soaking, boiling, autoclaving, irradiation, cooking, peeling, germination, fermentation are used. Wetting, germination, fermentation and autoclaving are the leading processes effective on reducing or removing antinutritional factors. In addition, controlled heat treatment ensures that the carbohydrates in legumes are partially gelatinized and their digestibility increases, inactivates the antinutritional factors and increases the rate of benefiting from the essential amino acids contained in the legumes.


Dried legumes are long-lasting foods, but they should be stored in a dry environment without moisture. Insects etc. should be taken care of before they are stored. If possible, it should be stored in dust bags or glass jars. It should be stored in a cool, moisture-free and dry place. It should not be exposed to sunlight.

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *