Use of beans, lentils or peas – the pros and cons.

Use beans, lentils or peas to add to meat dishes or replace meat or simply on their own.  They are a great source of amino acids, good fats and fiber. They are useful in a variety of dishes. Because of the high amino acid content, they are very good cheap replacement for meat.  They also tend to be a good source of magnesium, although that depends on the soils that they are grown in.  They also have contain:

  • Minerals: Calcium, Iron, Phosphorus, Potassium, Zinc
  • Vitamins B1, B2, B6, B9

Some people eat legumes because they contain FODMAPs – on the other hand, FODMAPS are poorly absorbed by a few people. FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligosaccrides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols. They are short chain carbohydrates that are easily fermentable by the gut bacteria AND increase movement of stools.

While legumes are not injected with hormones, you do have to be careful about the soils they are grown in and whether they have been sprayed with pesticides, insecticides, herbicides, etc.  Good reason for cleaning, soaking, preparing.

One issue that can be disconcerting is that labels identify the raw bean nutrient content not the nutrients found in after they are cooked.

Conversely, legumes have phytic acid – which when taken in high amounts can cause distress to the body. Phytic acid is found in many healthy foods like kale and other green veggies and nuts. The challenge with phytic acid are two fold – some people have strong reactions to phytic acid and its presence does reduce the nutrient absorption from the food.

Legumes also have lectins which bind to the cell membranes.  Again lectins are found in many other foods like vegetables (carrots, zucchini,), fruits (blackberries, cherries, grapes, melons), and spices (garlic) and mushrooms.

Finally, historically, legumes also went through a detoxing process and were prepared for longer periods of times, thus eliminating more of the toxins.  As opposed to the faster preparation methods used today.

One legume I don’t promote is soy. 92% of soy is now GMO – not good. Further, soy is good for you when it is both non-GMO and fermented as in soy sauce and tempeh. Also, while the orientals have a long history of the use of NON-GMO fermented soy – they only used small amounts – much healthier for you.

So let’s get back to the point. Legumes are a great food to replace some or all of your meat products and can be used in a wide variety of foods.  Let’s start with:

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE between Legumes, Beans, Peas, and Lentils?  Beans, peas and lentils all come from the legume family of plants. Beans, split peas/peas and lentils are the edible seeds of the legume plants.

Beans, peas, and lentils are all seeds that grow in pods. We can tell the difference by their shape. ·succotashDr Holly legumes chickpeas beansbean salad

Dry Beans are oval or kidney shaped. There are two main types of dry beans.

Red beans are used in bean burritos, bean tostadas, nachos frijoles, soups, salad bar choice, marinated salads, and main dishes or side dishes, such as vegetarian beans or baked beans.

  • Pinto                Pink beans          Light red kidney               Dark red kidney
  • Red beans                Pea beans           Black beansDahl

White beans are used in soups, salads, salad bar choice, or served as a vegetable.Dr Holly Bean Salad

  • Navy                Small white         Great northern
  • Cannellini (white kidney bean) Garbanzo (chickpeas)

Peas are round and used in side dishes, salads, casseroles, and soups

  • Black-eyed peas Whole peasbean bread Parotta
    Split peas are simply whole peas split in half

Lentils are flat variety of legumesdisks and used in soups

  • Green                Red                       Yellow                  Black

Know how to prepare dry beans and lentils:

Sorting:               Dry beans, lentils, peas

Sorting simply means placing beans, lentils or peas into a metal colander to clean and sort. As you wash them, you sort through them eliminating the old shriveled ones or other matter, like small stones that may have collected with them.beans and lentils

Preparing:          There are two processes

Preparing Dry Beans, whole peas

Preparing addresses soaking and cooking and is the same for beans or whole peas.  Place beans in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and reduce heat. Simmer for 2-3 minutes.  Remove from heat; cover the pot; soak for 1 hour or until beans have expanded 2-3 times the dry size.

Drain and place beans in a large pot; cover with water; bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer till tender and ready.

Preparing Dry Split Peas and Lentilspea soup

Split peas and lentils do not require soaking. They take about 20 minutes to cook.

Preparing canned beanslentil saladburritos

Canned beans simply need to be rinsed as they have already been cooked.

All in all, legumes are incredibly healthy and very cheap. They can make a wide number of meals in and of themselves or contribute as an additive. Either way, start including all the different legumes into your healthy diet on a budget.


Be creative – have fun – enjoy a healthy nutritious meal.