Legumes -- a class of vegetables including beans, peas, and lentils -- are terrific to include in the diet. They are rich in and fiber and chock full of vitamins and minerals, including folate, manganese, iron, potassium, magnesium, and copper. They are also economical and easy to store, and can be used in many dishes.
A terrific substitute for meat, legumes offer a nutrient-dense plant protein that is much lower in saturated fat and a good source of fiber and phytochemicals. No wonder they have been linked to lower rates of heart disease, diabetes, certain cancers, and lower body weights.
Even if you are a meat lover, I would still suggest incorporating legumes into your diet.
(Note: Legumes are not fattening when consumed in place of high fat-meat! I stress this because as a clinician, I have had many clients afraid to eat legumes for fear of gaining weight.)
Here are six winners that I love and recommend. They can be incorporated into a salad dish or in a soup.
- Lentils offer the added benefit of being a significant source of iron, in addition to the benefits from the soluble fiber, protein, and complex carbohydrates that all legumes offer. Lentils are also high in the B-vitamin biotin, which aids in the body's metabolism and growth.
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