Get answers to your nutrition and healthy eating questions. Visit www.eatrightontario.ca or call us toll-free at 1-877-510-510-2.
Get answers to your nutrition & healthy eating questions.
Call us toll-free† at 1-877-510-510-2 to speak directly with a Registered Dietitian.
The legume family includes dried beans, peas and lentils. Legumes make a perfect all season food; whether it is a hearty chilli on a winter’s day or a fresh bean salad at a summer BBQ. They are nutritious, inexpensive and versatile. So go ahead, add beans, peas and lentils to your meals more often!
Legumes are an excellent low fat meat alternative; providing protein, fibre, B vitamins and iron. That is why Canada’s Food Guide recommends we include legumes in our diet often.
Fibre is the part of the plant that we cannot digest. Fibre helps to lower blood cholesterol, maintain regular bowel movements and helps control blood sugar levels.
B vitamins are water soluble vitamins that help our body use fat, carbohydrates, and protein for fuel. Beans and lentils are especially rich in vitamin B6 and folate.
Iron is a mineral that is needed to make blood in your body. Iron comes in two forms, called heme and non-heme iron. Non-heme iron, which is found in plant foods like beans and lentils, is absorbed best when consumed with vitamin C rich foods like green peppers, tomatoes and citrus fruits. A bean chilli made with tomatoes is an excellent example.
There are over 20 different species of legumes varying in shape, texture, colour, and taste. Below is a list of the most common types of beans, peas and lentils and their suggested uses.
Chickpeas or Garbanzo beans are medium sized, round beans that are beige and have a creamy texture. Chickpeas can be made into a spread, such as hummus, or added to soups, salads, and pasta dishes.
Red kidney beans are medium sized, kidney-shaped beans that are dark red in colour. These beans have a soft texture that works well in soups, salads, chillies, or rice dishes.
Black beans are medium sized, oval beans with black skin and white flesh. These beans are great when added to soups, salads, and rice.
Black-eyed peas are medium sized, oval beans that are cream coloured with a black dot. They are usually served with rice or eaten as a side dish.
Lentils are small, thin disk shaped seeds that can be green, brown, red, orange, or yellow in colour. The green and brown lentils hold their shape after cooking, while the red, orange and yellow lentils tend to dissolve. All lentils work well in salads, soups, curry dishes, dips and side dishes.
Navy beans or Canadian white beans are small, white, oval beans used to make baked beans, soups, and stews.
Cannellini beans are white kidney shaped beans popular in Italian dishes. They hold their shape well and can be used in salads, sauces and stews. Can’t find these beans? Substitute Navy or Canadian white beans.
Split peas are small circular peas that have split into two halves. These peas can be green, yellow or orange in colour. When cooked, these peas can become very soft making them great for soups or curry dishes.
Mung beans are small, green legumes popular in Chinese cuisine. You will most often find them sprouted, and are commonly known as bean sprouts.
Adzuki beans are small, round, reddish-brown legumes popular in Asian dishes. They are commonly used to make desserts, such as red bean ice cream.
While peanuts are a legume, they are more similar to tree nuts than other members of their family. The major difference between peanuts and other legumes are that peanuts have a higher fat content and a thinner skin around the seed providing a texture similar to nuts.
Should people with peanut allergies avoid legumes? No. Most people with peanut allergies do not have allergic reactions to dried beans, peas and lentils. Only peanuts need to be avoided.
Beans and lentils come canned or dried.
To prepare canned beans, peas and lentils:
To prepare dried beans, peas and lentils:
Quinoa and Lentil Pilaf
Black Bean Couscous Salad
Crowd Pleasing Vegetarian Chilli, Dietitians of Canada
Kale and Black Eyed Peas, Heart and Stroke Foundation
Baked Chickpea Patties, Heart and Stroke Foundation
Red Lentil Daal, Heart and Stroke Foundation
This site is maintained by Dietitians of Canada.
Copyright © Dietitians of Canada 2016. All rights reserved.
Dietitians of Canada acknowledges the financial support of EatRight Ontario by the Ontario government. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the Province.