Legumes are not always associated with spoon dishes. The Alphabet of Nutrition provides us with cold recipes for this spring and affects the consumption of peas and beans this season. In addition, nutritionist Laura González points out how legumes can contribute proteins of high biological value to our diet if we combine them properly with cereals.
The consumption of legumes has been reduced in the Spanish population by almost 50 percent. At present, in Spain about 70 grams are consumed per week (just one serving) compared to the 2 or 3 servings recommended weekly.
Beans, beans, and lentils can be eaten throughout the year. Laura González, Nestlé’s head of health and nutrition, clarifies in “El Bisturí” that “when we talk about spring vegetables, we are referring strictly to peas and beans.”
Peas and beans
Both types of legumes are sold frozen or packaged, so they can be purchased throughout the year. However, the nutritionist points out that “it is in spring they can be eaten fresh.” At this time is when they are at their best both nutritionally and tastefully.
“Although it is common to think that they are vegetables, peas and beans are legumes”
The fresh pea is a typical seasonal food.
It is the seed of a pod, tender on the palate and sweet in taste. Normally only the seed is consumed, but there is a variety that is consumed whole: snow peas.
Snow peas can only be found during the spring. Its cultivation occurs mainly in the Mediterranean area.
The beans are also frozen or packaged, but it is better to consume them fresh, coinciding with their harvest time. “This way they are richer and retain all their properties”, clarifies the specialist.
Young broad beans have a pale green color and are the tastiest.
It is recommended to use them in recipes such as scrambled eggs, sauteed or stews.
“It is not advisable to consume beans raw because they contain a substance called lectin,” says Laura González. This substance, present in all legumes, can cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. To eliminate it, it is enough to cook the legumes.
Complex carbohydrates. “In general, legumes are rich in complex carbohydrates such as starch, which has a low glycemic index.” The nutritionist indicates how when taking this type of food the carbohydrates gradually pass into the blood, hence they are especially suitable for diabetics and athletes.
High fiber content. They are a source of fiber, mainly soluble, so they have a high satiating effect. They can be used as an ally to regulate intestinal transit and combat constipation.
Minerals and vitamins. They provide minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, and vitamins such as niacin, folic acid, and vitamin B6.
Little cholesterol Its consumption is recommended for people with high cholesterol. “Being a food of plant origin, they do not provide cholesterol,” says Laura González. In fact, according to the nutritionist they contain very little fat, and in themselves they are not a very caloric food.
However, the dietician emphasizes the way of preparation: if we cook them with fatty sausages such as chorizo or bacon, their fat and energy content can increase a lot. That is why light preparations are recommended, such as scrambled eggs, salads or preparations with vegetables.
Lentils with rice, high quality proteins
“Legumes are the plant food with the highest protein content,” says González, who adds that their protein content is similar to that of meat and fish, although their bioavailability is lower.
Legumes are limited in protein because they lack an essential amino acid, methionine. However, “if we combine them with cereals or derivatives (bread, rice, pasta) they complement each other to form proteins of high biological value, similar to animal proteins”, says the specialist.
In fact, they are essential in a vegetarian diet to achieve a correct protein intake. As classic examples, she points to lentils with rice, peas with pasta, or bean salads with corn.
“By combining legumes with cereals we get complete proteins, of very good biological value, which can replace a meat, fish or egg dish”
It should be borne in mind that the consumption of legumes can lead to the formation of gases. To reduce them, it is recommended to add cold water to the cooking water, add condiments such as cumin or anise, mash the legumes, or drink an infusion or yogurt afterwards.
Legumes, in addition to being a cheap food, constitute an outstanding nutritional option. Its consumption can be adapted to the whole year, but in spring the recipes with fresh peas and beans are the most recommended by our expert, Laura González, since they are seasonal foods.