From WikiMD's Food, Medicine & Wellness Encyclopedia

Many varieties of soybean.

A legume is a type of dry fruit usually produced by plants in the family Fabaceae. Legumes can be a variety of fruits: peas and beans are types of legumes.

What legumes have in common[edit | edit source]

Legumes grow from the carpel, the female reproductive part of a plant. The fruit of a legume is found inside a pod that can be split on both sides. However, there are some foods that grow inside pods that are not legumes.

Peas inside their pods.

Examples of Legumes[edit | edit source]

Common examples of legumes include beans, lentils, chickpeas, peas, and peanuts. These plants are known for their ability to fix nitrogen from the atmosphere, which makes them an important crop for sustainable agriculture.

Nutritional Benefits[edit | edit source]

  • Legumes are a rich source of protein, fiber, and other important nutrients. They are a valuable source of protein for vegetarians and vegans, as well as those who are looking to reduce their consumption of meat.
  • In addition to protein, legumes are also high in complex carbohydrates, dietary fiber, and essential vitamins and minerals, such as folate, iron, and potassium.

Culinary Uses[edit | edit source]

  • Legumes are a staple food in many cuisines around the world. They can be used in a variety of dishes, including soups, stews, salads, and casseroles. They can also be used to make spreads, dips, and vegetarian meat substitutes.
  • In some cultures, legumes are an important part of traditional diets. For example, in India, lentils are a staple food and are often used to make dal, a type of soup or stew. In Latin America, beans are a common ingredient in many dishes, such as refried beans and chili.

Health[edit | edit source]

Legumes contain many healthy nutrients, such as protein. They are a good source of protein for vegetarians and vegans, people who do not eat meat. They also contain fibre, which promotes a healthy digestive system.

Use[edit | edit source]

India imports (buys from other countries) the most legumes. This may be because a lot of Indians follow the religion of Hinduism, which does not approve of people eating meat. Legumes are a cheap and plentiful source of food in a country where around 22% of the population are in poverty. The top four producers and exporters (selling to other countries) of legumes are:

The USA uses legumes for a variety of reasons, and is the highest producer. It uses soybeans to feed cattle and make vegetable oil. Peanuts are a popular snack food in the USA and these are also a type of legume.

See also[edit | edit source]


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Contributors: Prab R. Tumpati, MD