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Beans and legumes in big yellow sacks

How Legumes Affect The Body

Beans and legumes are some of the best foods to eat for many reasons. For starters, the fiber and protein they contain make them a very healthy food choice. In addition to that, beans and some other legumes are inexpensive and easy to prepare for a meal. These along with other factors we'll discuss, make beans and legumes an amazing option for your diet. But how do these foods affect the body and are there any side effects? Continue reading to learn more about the health benefits of beans and legumes.

What Are Legumes

Legumes are a family of plants that produce a pod with seeds inside of it. These seeds are referred to as legumes. Some of the more commonly known legumes are beans, lentils, peas, chickpeas, soybeans, and even peanuts. Even though they are in the same family of plants, the nutritional value of some legumes may better than others, however, there are some health benefits that they share.

Health Benefits of Legumes

Nutrient Content

Beans and some of the other legumes are high in both fiber and protein along with other nutrients. Both of these are significant nutrients when it comes to losing weight. In addition to that, beans and legumes are also low in calories meaning you will have less to burn off. In fact, one study looked into the effects that beans and legumes have. In this study, researchers divided the participants into two groups. One of which would be on a high fiber and protein diet that consisted of beans and other foods, while the other was on a high fiber diet as well, but their diet had fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. At the end of the 4-week study, most participants lost some weight due to both being on a high fiber diet, but those in the bean group had more weight loss and less hunger than those in the standard fiber group. If you add extra exercise to this, you may be able to see an even more significant change. Be sure to check out one of our previous articles to learn about the Pros and Cons of Running.

Heart Health

The leading cause of death in the world today is heart disease. However, some studies suggest that a diet including beans and other legumes may be able to help reduce your risk of developing bad heart health. One review study looked at 26 different studies to see and their findings on how beans and legumes may correlate to heart disease. The researchers found that a diet that is rich in beans and legumes can lower LDL (bad) cholesterol, a risk factor of heart disease. In addition to lowering bad cholesterol, eating beans and legumes can be linked to a higher HDL (good) cholesterol and even help in reducing blood pressure.

Side Effects & Concerns

Digestion Problems

While legumes may be considered to be healthy foods, they do lectin, which can cause issues. Lectin is a protein that makes up around 10% of the protein in legumes. The reason as to why it is harmful is due to their resisting digestion. One lectin called phytohemagglutinin is found in red kidney beans. In high amounts, phytohemagglutinin is toxic and there have been incidents of poisoning from it. To avoid this, make sure you are not eating raw or improperly cooked legumes. To properly cook them soak them overnight and boil them at 212°F for at least 10 minutes. One thing to remember is that poisoning from beans and legumes is very rare and can be avoided by proper preparation.


For some people, beans and other legumes can cause flatulence (gas), stomach pain, and bloating. This comes from a fiber found in beans called raffinose. This can lead to digestion problems if it is taken in excess amounts. However, there are gas-prevention tablets and pills to help reduce pain, bloating and gas. In addition to that, soaking beans or simply ensuring that your dry beans are cooked thoroughly can reduce the content of raffinose by 76%. This offers just another reason to ensure that your beans and other legumes are thoroughly and properly cooked.

Getting Legumes Into Your Diet

Getting legumes into your diet is not hard as they are relatively inexpensive and can easily be prepared to eat, and added to a meal. Whether you cook multiple beans and legumes into chili or just have them as a side dish, it doesn't matter as long as they are getting cooked properly and thoroughly.


There are many different health benefits of beans and legumes that can be received if you consume them. It is still important to remember that they can cause problems if not cooked properly. Even though it is rare, it can still happen with just a little negligence.


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