Nutritional properties and most common types of legumes

Legumes are an extremely important source of energy in human nutrition and also have a cultural value, since historically they are part of the traditional diets of most of our countries.

In this article we want you to know more about this type of very beneficial food, its properties and the most common types or varieties of lentils , chickpeas and beans .

What are legumes?

By definition, legumes are dry, clean, healthy seeds separated from the pod that come from plants of the botanical family Leguminosae .

Legumes have been used in food by humans since ancient times, mainly due to their high content of proteins and carbohydrates, which provide energy in quantity and quality, and have a good supply of fibers that participate in regulation glucose (blood sugar level).

As a consequence of the industrialization of food in the modern economic system, its consumption decreased dramatically at the beginning of the 20th century. Diets increased the intake of meat, eggs and dairy products, and with this, the decisive role of legumes in protein intake was relegated.

> Read The Best Medicinal Plants for Hypertension

Proteins are macromolecules made up of chains of amino acids that, although they have various classifications, generally contribute to the growth and repair of body tissues. Hence the enormous importance of protein foods . Find out which are the plant foods with the most protein .

You may have heard that legumes “replace meat.” Although the proteins provided by legumes are comparable to those of animal origin, they are limited in sulfur amino acids, such as methionine, which are involved, specifically, in the health of skin and nails. That is why legumes are combined with cereals , which complement the limiting amino acid of legumes (methionine) and these in turn complement the limiting amino acid of cerals (lysine). It is not necessary to combine legumes and cereals in the same dish or in the same meal. Taking them throughout the day is enough.

Health benefits of legumes

Legumes have compounds with potentially beneficial properties for health, such as tannins, saponins, phytates, lecticas or protease inhibitors. While it was once thought that some phytochemical combinations could have an anti-nutritional effect, numerous studies have shown that, on the contrary, they are beneficial for health.

Lectins, for example, play a role as hormonal, metabolic and digestive regulators, as well as modulators of the immune system and intestinal microfiber . Protease inhibitors have shown their potential in the prevention and / or suppression of carcinogenic processes and inflammatory disorders .

There are many and diverse studies that have shown that the intake of legumes provides benefits to cardiovascular health, weight control, metabolic syndrome, gastrointestinal health and type 2 diabetes.

> Find Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Although there are nutritional differences between each of them, and there are even in each of its varieties, it is very important to incorporate legumes into the usual diet. Let’s review some of the varieties of legumes most consumed worldwide.

Types of legumes most consumed

legumes benefits

Lentil varieties

Lens culinaris Medicus or lens esculenta Moench is the name of the lentil-producing legume that is grown for human consumption. They are rich in calcium and iron, providing an adequate tonicity to the hemoglobin of the blood.

In Spain and Latin America three varieties of lentils are mainly grown:

  • Var. vulgaris : known as “lentil” or “queen lentil”, whose seeds are between 6 and 7 millimeters in diameter and the color is yellowish green.


  • Var. dupuyensis : also called “green lentil” or “verdina”, as it has mottled shades of yellowish green, native to the region of Le Puy-en-Velay, France; For this reason it is also known as “Puy lentil”. Its diameter is between 4 and 5 millimeters, and it is one of the most used varieties in South America and Europe.


  • Var. variabilils : smaller, between 3 and 4 millimeters in diameter, reddish-brown in color, which is why it is commonly called “brown lentil” or “pardin”.

In recent years, other varieties have begun to be consumed and produced, such as the “beluga lentil” or “caviar lentil”, a name given to it due to its small rounded size and black color, originating in the United States and Canada. Another that has also spread is the one known as “Indian lentil”, “Urad Dal” or “Urid” or “Dhal”, an Asian variety used in traditional Indian and Pakistani cuisine.

> Read Natural Remedies for SWOLLEN BELLY

On the other hand, there are those known as skinned or peeled, such as the “Crimson lentil”, originally from Turkey and whose reddish or orange color changes to yellow with cooking, and the “Red Chief Lentil”, also called “Egyptian lentil. “Or” Massor dal “, widely consumed in Asia. Unlike the previous ones, they cook in 10 minutes, but they have less fiber and tannin. As they are easily digested and provide a good amount of amino acids, they are usually the most used by vegetarians.

Nutritional information : for every 100 grams of boiled lentils without salt, they provide 116 calories, equivalent to 486 kilojoules of energy, most of them carbohydrates (81.5 calories) and proteins (31.3 calories). As for minerals, they provide a significant amount of potassium (369 mg), phosphorus (180 mg), magnesium (36 mg) and calcium (19 mg). Among the contribution of vitamins, the B (folate and choline) stand out

Chickpea varieties

The scientific name is Cicer arietinum and they are a source of a high fiber content, as well as calcium and iron, standing out in terms of phenolic compounds, which have an antioxidant and protective effect against cardiovascular diseases.

The widely known varieties of chickpeas are three, since they are associated with their geographical arrangement:

  • Desi : small in size, yellowish or black, grown mainly in India.


  • Gulbabi : medium in size, smooth and rounded, light in color.


  • Kabuli : medium or large grain, rounded and wrinkled, also very present in color in Latin America.

According to agricultural evolution, especially in the countries where it is most consumed, there are some variants. In Spain, the “Castilian chickpea” (the best known), the “milky white chickpea”, the “Andalusian venous chickpea”, the “chamad chickpea”, the “pedrosillano chickpea”, and the “chickpea from Fuentesaúco ”with Protected Geographical Indication in Zamora.

> Find Bio Spices with which to give life to your dishes

In Latin America most of the production and consumption is found in Mexico, but in other countries it is not one of the main legumes consumed by the general population.

Nutritional information : for every 100 grams of boiled chickpeas without salt, they provide 164 calories, equivalent to 687 kilojoules of energy, mostly from carbohydrates (112 calories) and protein (30 calories). In terms of minerals, they provide a significant amount of potassium (291 mg), phosphorus (168 mg), magnesium (48 mg) and considerably more calcium than lentils (49 mg). Among the contribution of vitamins, the B (folate and choline) and a lot of vitamin A stand out.

Varieties of beans or beans

Also called “broad beans”, “beans”, “beans”, “beans” or “beans”, the scientific name is Phaseolus vulgaris for those with red, black or white skin, while the spotted or mottled corresponds to the Phaseolus species coccineus , with a kidney-shaped shape and red or purple colors. The species Phaseolus Multiflorus Wild is also called “Scarlet Bean” or “Spanish Bean” .

It could be distinguished, of course, that there are white, red, black, cinnamon and pints , but it would be impossible to mention the number of varieties that exist, because for example, only in Spain each region has traditional recipes with specific varieties of the area.

> Read also The importance of SALT   in the diet

Being native to the American continent, in each country and region there are as many varieties as there are possibilities of consumption and production, especially in places where the most has been experimented with adapting seeds to different growing areas.

Nutritional information : for every 100 grams of boiled beans without salt, they provide about 124 calories, equivalent to 519 kilojoules of energy, mostly from carbohydrates (91 calories) and protein (31.7 calories). As for minerals, they provide a significant amount of potassium (419 mg), phosphorus (137 mg), magnesium (48 mg) and a significant amount of calcium (66 mg). The contribution is B vitamins (folate).

>> Find Seasonal Organic Fruits and Vegetables


  • Scientific publication: The nutritional transition in contemporary Spain: evaluations in the consumption of bread, potatoes and legumes (1850-2000). Xabier Cussó Segura and Ramón Garrabou Segura – Autonomous University of Barcelona (Economic History Research).
  • Report: Importance of legumes in human nutrition. FJ Mataix and GM Salido, School of Nutrition of the University of Granada – Spanish Nutrition Foundation. (May 1985).
  • Scientific article: Aspects of nutritional legumes and benefits for human health. Cristina Delgado-Andrade, Raquel Olías, José Carlos Jiménez-López and Alfonso Clemente. ARBOR Science, Thought and Culture. (May 2016).
  • Agricultural extension publications: Lentil cultivation. Franciso Javier Alonso Ponga, Information sheets-Ministry of Agriculture. (Spain 1980).
  • Report: Lentils (Lens culinaris). Prof. Luis A. De Bernardi. Undersecretary of Agricultural Markets, Ministry of Agroindustry of Argentina.
  • Publication: Human Nutrition in the Developing World (FAO)
  • Self Nutrition Data



Related posts

Deja una respuesta

Tu dirección de correo electrónico no será publicada. Los campos obligatorios están marcados con *

Botón volver arriba