Legumes are plants or seeds of the Fabaceae Family. These are so popular all around the world for its many benefits, both for humans and animals. Generally, the name ‘beans’ is broadly used to call seeds of the fabaceae family. Popular legumes in Nigeria and other African countries include cowpea, soybeans, common beans, pigeon pea, and chick peas. Lesser known beans include Lima beans/butter beans, Adzuki beans, black beans, mung beans, African yam beans, pinto beans to mention a few. Other economically important tropical legumes include groundnuts, Bambara groundnuts, faba beans, lentils, hyacinth beans. Why is it important to include legumes in your meals? Here are 5 solid reasons:
- You get to improve your gut and heart health
Legumes contain an appreciable amount of dietary fibre. Dietary fibre helps to normalize your bowel movement, prevents constipation and reduces your risk of cancers such as colon cancer. It also helps to lower your cholesterol levels and even helps control blood glucose levels. Consuming legumes every day is one of the surest ways to consume enough dietary fibre to meet your daily fibre requirement.
- You get an appreciable supply of minerals and some vitamins
Micronutrients are very important for the body. These are nutrients needed in small quantities yet their effects on the body, especially in terms of maintenance and rejuvenation, is powerful. Deficiencies in micronutrients can even cause irreversible mental development in children and in some cases leads to death. When you consume legumes, especially a variety of it, you can easily get access to micronutrients such as iron, manganese, copper, folate, vitamin B1, Vitamin B2.
- You can maintain a healthy weight
One of the cheapest and easiest ways to maintain your body weight and control obesity is to consume legumes daily. Their high fibre content is very beneficial in controlling your weight as it gives you a feeling of fullness without the added calories. This is very important to sustaining weight loss.
- You can use them as Cheaper protein sources
While animal proteins give you complete proteins, they can be very expensive for many to eat on a daily basis. Legumes, which are from plants and are cheaper, also contain a lot of protein. Although the protein in legumes is incomplete, when paired with grains like rice, wheat, corn they become complete and available for your body to utilize.
- You support millions of African households who grow legumes for food security and income generation
When you purchase legumes in Africa, you support millions of households that grow them. There are more than 101 million households in sub-Saharan Africa alone that grow these crops as a means of livelihood. Supporting them by buying their crops means that apart from improving your own nutrition, you are contributing to a reduction in poverty and giving others power to improve their economic situation. It is sad that farmers in Africa toil so hard yet they are poor. So, if you are purchasing legumes in Africa, know that you are supporting farmers in some way. The bottom is that legumes are great for your health and the society. If you include them in your daily meals, you would be eating better and thus have the energy and vitality to live better.