Legumes provide a range of essential nutrients including protein, carbohydrates, dietary fibre, minerals and vitamins. They are:
Legumes contain relatively low quantities of the essential amino acid methionine (which is found in higher amounts in grains). Grains, on the other hand, contain relatively low quantities of the essential amino acid lysine, which legumes contain. This is why some vegetarian cultures – in order to get a good balance of amino acids needed for growth and repair – combine their diet of legumes with cereal grains. Common examples of such combinations are dhal with rice in India, beans with corn tortillas in Mexico, tofu with rice in Asia and peanut butter with bread in the USA and Australia.
National Nutrition & Physical Activity Survey Analysis
A secondary analysis of The Australian 2011-2012 National Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey (NNPAS) conducted by GLNC has found that Australians who eat legumes at least two times a week have higher intakes of essential nutrients. However, many Australians just don’t eat them often enough to benefit from the fibre and plethora of nutrients available in most legumes.
The NNPAS survey was based on a sample of over 9,000 adults who undertook a 24-hour dietary recall on the day prior to the survey. GLNC analysed the data to determine the difference between people who ate at least two serves of legumes a week and those that did not.
The results of this survey helped us to understand the amounts of legumes that the average Australian eats and the importance of legumes as part of a balanced diet.
A table comparing the nutrient content of different types of legumes can be downloaded here.
For more information on legumes and nutrition check these links:
Citation: Grains & Legumes Nutrition Council (GLNC). Secondary Analysis of the National Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey 2011-2012 Unpublished: 2015.