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The Heart-Healthy Side of Legumes

Sue Riedl

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Healthy eating:

Trained chef and food journalist

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You may already be eating legumes on a regular basis in bean-based stews such as chili or when dipping into some hummus. Legumes are a class of vegetables that include chickpeas, lentils, peas and all beans including soybeans. They’re important to your heart health because they’re high in fibre, low fat, cholesterol free and great sources of protein, vitamins and minerals such as folate and iron.

When you include legumes in your diet, you can also count them against the meat and alternatives daily servings suggested in Canada’s Food Guide. By replacing a few servings of meat with legumes (one serving of legumes is ¾ cup), you will eat less saturated fat that can raise cholesterol levels.

Affordable, delicious and good for you

Adding more legumes to your diet is also a cost effective way to help prevent risks of heart disease. Inexpensive and long-lasting, legumes can always be on hand to add to almost any soup or stew you’ve got simmering. Creamy dips can be made with multi-bean combos and black beans can be snuck into quesadillas or hamburger patties. Edamame, which can be bought frozen and found with the frozen vegetables, makes a delicious snack or appetizer.

Dry beans require some planning as they need to be soaked overnight (covered and refrigerated) to rehydrate and cook evenly. The advantage of using dry beans is their lack of sodium content versus the canned products (check nutrition labels) which are convenient but must be rinsed well to remove as much salt as possible.

Whichever you choose, adding legumes to your diet benefits your heart.

More ways to incorporate legumes into your diet:

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