While processed foods are gaining presence in the diet of the majority of the population in developed countries, legumes are often the forgotten ones .
However, we must not forget that we are dealing with a basic food group, which should be present in a healthy and balanced diet . Legumes are low in fat, as well as being a very important source of protein, vitamins, minerals and fiber.
With this article I wanted to contribute my grain of sand to the “Let’s talk about legumes” campaign, framed within the World Dietitian Nutritionist Day , which this year has as protagonist to this food group. You can follow the posts of other dietitians – nutritionists who participate with their articles with the hashtag.
A world gastronomic journey around legumes and their properties
Today I want to tell you about the different types of legumes that we can find around the planet. Faced with the homogenization of the food industry, it is important to safeguard the recipes and products of each country or region, since it is relevant to highlight food, as a cultural and identity aspect of its own.
In my experience as a dietitian – nutritionist, I have met people from many parts of the world and tried to soak up their gastronomic culture. In multicultural cities such as Barcelona or Madrid, it is important that professionals know how to adapt to the culinary customs of our patients.
- Githeri – Kenya – Africa
Githeri is a very popular dish in Kenya. It basically consists of a bean stew with corn. The origin of this recipe comes from the Kikuyu tribe. Although now the dish has become very popular, with versions in which potato or meat are added, originally meat was a very rare commodity in the tribe, where beans were the main source of protein. This is a good example of a dish for a vegetarian diet since it combines legumes (in this case beans) with a cereal (corn) to form a complete protein. Beans are one of the legumes that usually cause more gastrointestinal upset and flatulence. To reduce this unwanted effect, choose thin-skinned varieties and combine them with other vegetables in the same dish so that the portion eaten is small.
- Moor of black beans – Dominican Republic – South America
This dish of the Caribbean cuisine is composed mainly, as its name suggests, by black beans. These are accompanied by rice, onion, coriander, orange, leek and chicken broth. It is usually accompanied by chicken or pork. In case of not putting animal protein, we would have another good recipe rich in protein with all the amino acids. It is not vegetarian as it contains chicken broth.
Black beans differ from white beans not only in color, but also in their properties. This food from South America is especially rich in fiber, in addition to being an important source of minerals (potassium, magnesium and calcium) and vitamin B1. They also contain flavonoids, substances with a strong antioxidant power.
- Chana Masala – India – Asia
Chana Masala is a traditional Indian chickpea curry. In a country with a very high vegetarian population rate, the ability of Hindus to bring nuances and flavors to their dishes is impressive. For this, spices play an essential role. This chickpea curry is mainly made up of these legumes together with a combination of spices called garam masala. Garam masala can be made up of different spices, although the traditional one includes (cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, black pepper, and cardamom).
Chickpeas provide vitamins, minerals and fiber . It is a good food to reduce bad cholesterol or LDL and triglycerides. Therefore, we can say that this legume helps prevent cardiovascular diseases within a healthy diet.
- Harira Soup – Morocco – Africa
We return to the African continent to recover one of my favorite dishes, the harira soup. This is one of the national dishes of Morocco (along with tajin and couscous). Combine two legumes (lentils and chickpeas), beef, flour and vegetables (tomato, celery, carrot and onion). As you can see, it is a dish with a high nutritional value and very complete since it contains the main food groups.
Lentils contain fiber, which helps fight constipation and lower blood sugar levels , but unlike chickpeas and beans they tend to produce little flatulence.
- Dhal – Pakistan – Asia
Dhal is a lentil stew, a staple in Pakistani cuisine. Lentils are one of the most consumed legumes in Pakistan and this dish can be made with red, green or brown lentils. Spices are once again a differentiating element in this dish.
Red lentils are peeled, so they are easier to digest than brown ones, making them ideal for people with gastric problems. However, its fiber content is lower.