Legume is a broad term that refers to beans and pulses. Lentils, black beans, kidney beans, butter beans, chickpeas and even peanuts are all part of the legume family.
Beans and pulses are widely available in tins and jars but it’s easy to swap them for the dried varieties. They need a bit more love, but have more flavour and texture than tinned and are often cheaper too! As a general rule, cooking will double the weight of dried beans and pulses, so for example, if a recipe calls for a tin of chickpeas (240g drained weight) you can swap this for 120g of dried chickpeas. Always check the label before you start as the cooking and soaking times and the resulting weight may vary.
What’s great about legumes?
Different legumes have different nutrients but all pulses and beans are a source of protein and fibre. Protein is good for our bones and muscles, and fibre helps maintain a healthy digestive system. In particular, black beans are a source of iron, which help us make red blood cells (just remember to have them with vitamin C-rich foods, such as peppers, to increase the absorption). Lentils are a source of copper and chickpeas a source of manganese, both which we need to help protect our cells from damage among other important things.
Beans are really versatile and a great plant-based protein source. A single serving of beans is roughly three heaped tablespoons, or 80g, which counts as one portion of your 5-a-day (note you can only count beans or pulses once towards your 5-a-day).
10 lovely ideas for legumes
Check out more ways with our favourite legumes here.