Legumes: Nutritional value and nutritional benefits
Who can resist a hot legume soup, accompanied by well-baked nuts, virgin olive oil and a little feta cheese? But, of course, no one! The simplest ingredients usually make the best meals, and legumes often confirm this. They are delicious as a soup, but they can also be delicious just in a fresh salad or as the main ingredient of a different dish; the English people -with English breakfast- know something, don’t they?
Most of all, in fact, they know that legumes are a group of foods of high nutritional value that will only benefit anyone who fits them into their diet. Rich in plant proteins, complex carbohydrates, B vitamins and micronutrients such as iron, phosphorus, potassium and calcium, have deservedly been described as the “meat of the poor”.
More specifically, the consumption of legumes helps regulate blood sugar due to the low glycemic index. At the same time, legumes are an excellent source of protein ideal for vegetarians and vegans; causing immediately the feeling of satiety. In addition, the high fiber content plays a key role in maintaining healthy cholesterol levels and in the overall protection of the cardiovascular system. Added to that, the fiber of legumes, soluble and insoluble, help the proper functioning of the intestine by preventing constipation. The antioxidant action they offer through polyphenols that have anti-aging properties is also important. Of course, the fact that they have an anti-cancer effect cannot be excluded from the list of benefits of legumes.
Here at Ntourountous Bakery, recognizing their nutritional value, we try to highlight them in a different way; using legume flour to make some products. Specifically, we have chosen lentil, fava, buckwheat and chickpea flour. In addition to all the above benefits of legumes that we mentioned, let’s take a look at what each one exactly offers.
Lentil is, without a doubt, one of the most popular and beloved legumes due to its pleasant taste and nutritional value. From young children we hear that lentils have a lot of iron; an element necessary for our development. Thanks to the iron they have, they contribute to the better storage of oxygen and consequently supply the body with more energy; while at the same time they assist significantly with anemia. Of particular interest is the fact that lentils prevent genetic abnormalities thanks to their folic acid. In fact, their consumption is recommended by pregnant women. Another reason to include lentils in our diet plan is that they improve the health of hair and skin, due to the vitamins, minerals and amino acids they contain.
Fava, in turn, is a food directly related to the summer tables by the sea but also to periods of fasting. Rich in flavor and nutrients, it is usually cooked as a puree and more rarely as a risotto or even as a dip for salads. It is an excellent source of folic acid and manganese, contributing positively to the functioning of the immune system and the cardiovascular system. In addition, the fact that it does not contain any fat makes it ideal for diet periods. It should be noted that this food is also suitable for people with high blood pressure as it does not contain any sodium. However, the consumption of fava by people with G6PD deficiency should be avoided due to the risk of hemolytic episodes.
Next on the list is buckwheat, a superfood that offers many benefits to our health. Let’s start with the fact that buckwheat is associated with lower total cholesterol, lower LDL “bad” cholesterol and higher HDL “good” cholesterol. It also has a positive effect on the protection of the liver and the management of diabetes. It is worth mentioning the fact that it is a food free from many pesticides and chemicals, an element that ranks it even higher in our list of preferences. Being a fake-cereal it does not contain gluten, and therefore it is suitable for people suffering from celiac disease. And if you are still not convinced about buckwheat, we will mention that according to research, it also works against physical fatigue.
Finally, chickpeas due to the high content of fiber helps to increase the healthy bacteria in the intestine, while at the same time due to the high content of carbohydrates reduce the incidence of colon cancer. In addition, it is a food rich in potassium, iron and vitamin C that is particularly beneficial for the absorption of iron.
In conclusion, the presence of legumes in our diet can actually benefit us. Therefore, various creative recipes can be added to our menu with them; we just need to use a little imagination. At Ntourountous Bakery, we present you our “touch” to a healthier food choice.