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What are legumes?

They sound a little strange and very few people actually know what they are but legumes are actually just a type of vegetable. Examples of legumes include lentils, split peas, kidney beans, black beans, pinto beans and chickpeas, soybeans, black-eyed peas and peanuts.

They are high in fibre and protein and are known to have many health benefits such as reducing the risk of heart disease and cancer. If this is new to you then you need to learn fast as these little things should be an integral part of a healthy, balanced diet.

Legumes are packed full of vitamins, contain no cholesterol and very little fat. They also contain both soluble and insoluble fibre. They make an excellent substitute for meat in many dishes such as stews, casseroles and traditional dishes such as lasagna, curry, soups and chilli.

Legumes are important in human nutrition, particularly for vegetarians, because they are higher in protein than any other plant food. In addition to the quality source of protein, they are relatively low cost and have a long shelf life. Therefore legumes are excellent for people looking to cut back on animal foods for health, social or economic reasons.

Health experts recommend we consume at least 6 servings of legumes every week to see the associated health benefits. This may seem an awful lot but by simply replacing some of the high fat meats, cheese, full-fat diary produce, baked goods and refined carbohydrates in your diet with lentils, beans or peas will help you achieve this.