Legumes for Gut Health (and how to eat them daily!)
Nutritional benefits of legume intake
As a dietitian working in the areas of weight management and gut health, I'm a strong advocate for legume intake. Legumes (a.k.a. pulses) are a family of plant proteins including chickpeas, lentils and beans.
Legumes are a fantastic lean source of protein, and also provide the dual benefits of being super high in fibre and low in fat. They have a low glycaemic index, meaning that the complex carbohydrates in legumes are released at a slow, steady rate to keep us full and provide lasting energy.
Lastly, not only are these plant based proteins high in fibre (which we've identified as the #1 key to gut health), but are also a natural prebiotic. The colony of bacteria in our gut (also known as our microbiome) feed on prebiotic rich foods, meaning that prebiotic foods can help our gut bugs become more diverse. A thriving, diverse microbiome has been linked with digestive health, immunity, mental health, and chronic disease risk. How great that these versatile, nutrient powerhouses can be so great for our gut AND our waistline?
How to eat more legumes
Now that we know what they are, and why they're so amazing for health and nutrition, here are my top 10 ways to enjoy legumes in a way that is - as always - tasteful:
1. Try cooking lentils in a flavoursome slow cooked chilli, casserole, soup or stew
2. Add chickpeas or tins of kidney beans/4 bean mix into salads, sandwiches or wraps
3. Add black beans to your fav Mexican dishes (think taco bowls, chilli con carne, enchiladas and more) as well as burgers/rissoles
4. Try pulse pasta for unique, high fibre and colourful meal!
5. Hommus...need I say more?
6. Snack on homemade roasted chickpeas, or a convenient options like The Happy Healthy Snack Company roasted chickpeas or fava beans (they come in tasty flavours also!)
7. Get inventive with some healthy baking and trial a black bean and cacao brownie (I swear that all you can taste is chocolate!)
8. Chuck some soybeans into your stir fry dishes
9. When baking, substitute approx 10% of wheat flour for lupin flour (which will also lower the glycaemic index of your sweet treat!)
10. Last but not least...how good are baked beans? Add a small, salt reduced tin to your Sunday breaky, or better yet, cook up some homemade baked beans using tinned diced tomatoes!