Legumes (or pulses)

The protective role of LEGUMES and link to longevity

The ABC radio "Health Report" (1/11/2004) interviewed Dr Irene Darmadi-Blackberry about the legume research conducted at Monash University. This research was initiated and coordinated by HEC's Professor Mark Wahlqvist and Dr Antigone Kouris-Blazos and published in Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition in March 2004. One of the several important findings from this international elderly study was that a higher legume intake is the most protective dietary predictor of survival amongst the elderly, regardless of ethnicity.
The Health Report has featured our study in their "Health Minutes" on-line video clips
can also be viewed as a video clip on the ABC radio network at ABC radio network "Health minutes"


Why do legumes cause bloating and wind.
How many of you avoid legumes because they make you bloated and cause embarassing smells and noise pollution? The question is - if you are avoiding them for these reasons are you affecting the quality of your diet and ultimately your health?

1. Legumes, include: haricot beans (baked beans), kidney, lima, broad, soy beans, as well as chickpeas and lentils.
2. Legumes contain sugar molecules (oligosaccharides) and certain fibres which are not digested by the enzymes in our intestine. But rather are digested by bacteria which live in our gut. They use these as substrates for their metabolism and production of energy, however, gases are produced in the process.
3. The gases produced by the bacteria include carbon dioxide, nitrogen, hydrogen, methane, ammonia, and hydrogen sulfide - all of which are potentially toxic and if retained will cause abdominal distention and pain.

There are ways to reduce the wind/bloating by:
- consuming legumes with herbs (e.g thyme, rosemary, sage, fennel)
- soaking the beans overnight and discarding the soaking water (lentils don't need soaking)
- walking will help you release the gases

Remember, being bloated is not the same as having too much fat around your middle - the bloated feeling will eventually go away.

Now lets look at the second question - do we really need to eat them if they have the potential to be embarrassing.

Here are some reasons why it's a good idea to eat them at least once a week as a main meal such as a bean soup or chickpea curry or lentil patties:

1. they have a protein content which is almost double that of cereals and similar to the amount found in meat, eggs, fish and dairy products. So legumes are a cheap meat alternative. But they are lacking in one amino acid - but this is rectified if they are consumed with bread/rice/pasta, which contain this amino acid.
2. they are a good source of Fe, Zn, Mg, B vits, low fat, high omega 3
3. they contain 2 types of fibre - one which helps control blood sugars (legumes have a low glycaemic index) and blood fats and the other which helps with constipation and also with protection against gut cancer
4. a study in the US showed that eating several serves of legumes a week significantly reduced the risk of heart disease. To read abstract on-line go to:

5. an international study has shown that of all the food groups, legumes are the most important food group conferring longevity. Read more..

Many people don't eat legumes because they don't know how to cook them.
They are easy to cook if you know how. The HEC will show you how to make delicious soups, salads, curries and more. See our recipe section.

Why not try them as a snack - roasted chickpeas and sultanas are a common snack in the mediterranean and the middle east. They can be purchased from a Greek or Turkish deli.

See also the HEC healthy eating pyramid

View on HEC.iTV



Last Updated: June 2005