The label “superfood” is used to describe foods that contain an unusually high density of nutrients and offer a variety of remarkable health benefits.
Legumes, which include peanuts, peas, beans, soybeans, chickpeas, and lentils, are considered “superfoods” because they are packed with vitamins and minerals that your body needs to thrive. They’re an excellent way to increase your fiber intake, and one of the best non-animal sources of protein. Because they’re a source of Foundation Supplements, lentils, chickpeas, black beans, and several other legumes are listed as Foundation Foods. They provide your body with the resources to reverse osteoporosis.
Read on to learn more about what legumes can do, and to receive two delicious legume-based soup recipes.
Legumes: A Superfood With Lots To Offer
Legumes are the seeds of plants that belong to the Fabaceae or Leguminosae family. There are many types of legumes that differ in appearance, taste, and nutrients. Except for lima beans, legumes are acidifying, but their rich micronutrient content makes them part of a bone-healthy diet when balanced with alkalizing foods.
Pretty much anything with the “bean” word in the name is a legume. That includes favorites such as black beans, fava beans, kidney beans, navy beans, pinto beans, and chickpeas (garbanzo beans), just to name a few. Lentils are technically a type of bean, though they are often thought of as their own category. There are many types of lentils, usually categorized by their color: red, green, brown, and black are quite common.
Legumes’ superfood status is easy to justify. They provide fiber, protein, carbohydrates, B vitamins, iron, copper, magnesium, manganese, zinc, and phosphorous. They’re low in fat, cholesterol-free, high in fiber, and high in protein. They also have a low glycemic load, helping to regulate blood sugar levels.
Here are the top benefits of eating a diet rich in legumes:
- Helps prevent Type 2 Diabetes because of its positive effect on blood glucose levels.1
- Lowers total and LDL cholesterol levels, improving heart health.2
- Prevents hypertension by providing potassium, magnesium, and fiber, which have been shown to have a positive impact on blood pressure management.3
- Assists with weight control because the fiber, protein, and slowly digested carbohydrates in legumes help you to feel full sooner and for longer. Studies found that legume consumers are less likely to be obese than non-consumers.4
Legumes are a plant food that offers a range of health benefits, many of which stem from their high nutritional content and low glycemic load.
Legumes For Bone Health
Legumes are excellent for your bones because of the nutrients they provide. For example, in a single cup of a cooked lima beans there are 15 important nutrients, including calcium, zinc, copper, B Vitamins, and Vitamin K.
Here are some bone-healthy traits of two delicious legumes: lima beans and lentils:
The manganese in lima beans creates superoxide dismutase, the anti-inflammatory antioxidant.
One cup of lentils contains 3 times the daily value of molybdenum, which regulates copper levels, and is another component of superoxide dismutase.
Both lima beans and lentils are great sources of fiber, which helps to regulate digestion, absorbs and eliminates toxins, and aids in liver health.5
Lima beans and lentils are sources of folate (Vitamin B9), which turns bone weakening homocysteine into amino acids.6
The protein in lentils and lima beans is important for diets with reduced meat consumption. Protein is necessary for building strong muscles that in turn stimulate bone growth.
Get these benefits by incorporating legumes into your diet now, and to make it easier, we share with you these two comforting soup recipes below.
Lentils and lima beans are both legumes, and both offer a variety of bone-health benefits.
Bone-Healthy Bean Soup
- 1 carrot, diced
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 stalk celery, diced
- 2 cloves garlic
- 4 cups lima beans, cooked
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- sea salt to taste
- ground black pepper to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons plain unsweetened yogurt for topping (optional)
- Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a large pot.
- Add carrot onion, and celery, and cook stirring until onion turns translucent, about 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook for a few more minutes.
- Add beans, broth, salt, pepper, and herbs. Set heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and let simmer until vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes.
- Serve and top with a dollop of yogurt, if desired.
Lentil Veggie Soup
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 1 carrot, chopped
- 1 celery stalk, chopped
- 4 cups kale, chopped small
- 3 garlic cloves
- 5 1/2 cups vegetable broth
- 1 cup brown lentils
- 1 1/2 cups tomatoes, diced
- 1 teaspoon dried marjoram
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon sea salt (adjust to taste)
- Heat olive oil in a large pot. Add the celery, garlic, onion, and carrot. Cover and cook until softened, about 5 to 7 minutes.
- Add broth, lentils, tomatoes, kale, thyme, marjoram, sea salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, then lower temperature to a simmer.
- Cover and cook until the lentils are soft, approximately 45 minutes. Add more broth if necessary.
Eat Your Way to Stronger Bones!
Discover over 200 mouth-watering bone healthy recipes for breakfast, smoothies, appetizers, soups, salads, vegetarian dishes, fish, and plenty of main courses and even desserts!
Legumes are a healthy choice for reversing osteoporosis and are a versatile food available in a variety of forms. Make legumes a part of your regular bone-building diet to reap all the benefits these power-packed foods have to offer.
1 Ley SH, Hamdy O, Mohan V, Hu FB “Prevention and management of type 2 diabetes: dietary components and nutritional strategies.” Lancet. 2014 Jun 7; 383(9933):1999-2007. Web. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4751088/
2 Bazzano LA, Thompson AM, Tees MT, Nguyen CH, Winham DM. “Non-soy legume consumption lowers cholesterol levels: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.” Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2011 Feb; 21(2):94-103. Web. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19939654
3 Ascherio A, et al. “A prospective study of nutritional factors and hypertension among US men.” Circulation. 1992 Nov; 86(5):1475-84. Web. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1330360
4 Papanikolaou Y, Fulgoni VL 3rd “Bean consumption is associated with greater nutrient intake, reduced systolic blood pressure, lower body weight, and a smaller waist circumference in adults: results from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 1999-2002.” J Am Coll Nutr. 2008 Oct; 27(5):569-76. Web. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18845707
5 Rani Polak, et al. “Legumes: Health Benefits and Culinary Approaches to Increase Intake.” Clin Diabetes. 2015 Oct; 33(4): 198–205. Web. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4608274/
6 LeBoff, Meryl S., et al. “Homocysteine Levels and Risk of Hip Fracture in Postmenopausal Women.” Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. 2009; 94(4): 1207-1213. Web. http://kooperberg.fhcrc.org/papers/2009leboff.pdf