Legumes are an incredibly nutritious category of food, which every person should be incorporating in his or her diet. Legumes, which include beans, lentils, peas, and peanuts, are incredibly versatile. Beans come in many different shapes, sizes, and colors, and they readily absorb flavors from the spices and herbs you choose to cook them with. Legumes are rich in many essential macro- and micro-nutrients including fiber, protein, iron, folate, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, riboflavin, thiamin, vitamin B6, zinc, and many more vitamins and minerals.
Legumes are rich in many nutrients which benefit heart health by lowering both cholesterol and blood pressure levels. Beans, lentils, peas, and peanuts are all excellent sources of dietary fiber. One cup of cooked kidney beans contains 16.5 grams (g) of fiber (66% of your recommended daily intake), one cup of lentils contains 15.6g of fiber, one cup of peanuts has 11.7g of fiber, and a cup of green peas contains 8.8 g of fiber.
Fiber helps to lower cholesterol levels by binding to the cholesterol and pulling it out of the body before it has a chance to enter the bloodstream and build up on the inside of blood vessel walls. High cholesterol doubles the risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.
Legumes are also an excellent source of potassium—especially lentils and beans. Potassium is an important nutrient for balancing blood pressure levels because it balances the effects of sodium. Chronically high blood pressure (hypertension) is known as the "silent killer" because there are virtually no symptoms and over time, high blood pressure can lead to many serious health issues including heart attack, stroke, aneurysm, heart failure, and more.
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