Mediterranean diet


Whether green, brown or white, round, oblong or kidney-shaped, beans come in many colors and shapes and are among the most versatile and nutritious foods available. Legumes are growing all over the world and are an important part of today’s diet.The Fabaceae or Leguminosae family is the third largest family of flowering plants, consisting of over 20,000 species in different sizes and textures. 

Legumes have a rich and colorful history as food around the world. They have long been considered an important staple food in many cultures. Humans are believed to have been growing and eating legumes for more than 11,000 years in the Middle East and Central and South America. From there, they have spread in various forms and are today an indispensable food component worldwide. Healthy, nutritious and easy to cook, you can find a type of legume and favorite preparation in every continent.

Legumes are not only healthy and tasty, but also sustainable and use less water than other crops. This has mainly to do with a special property; Legumes have small nodules on their roots. Bacteria sit on these, converting nitrogen from the air into nutrient-rich compounds. This has two consequences: They can grow on low-nitrogen soils, and provide the soil with important nutrients. They are therefore a popular cover crop in organic farming.

Thanks to them, farmers need less nitrogen fertilizer and avoid its numerous negative effects, such as nitrate in groundwater. Their flowers also provide a source of food for many insects. Black beans for example are very popular in Latin America, soybeans and the red adzuki beans in Asia and chickpeas, fava beans and white cannellini beans in many Mediterranean countries, and are one of the staples of the traditional Mediterranean diet.  



Although the terms legumes, pulses and beans are often assumed to be the same thing, they actually have different meanings. To get a better idea of this, it is best to imagine a kind of hierarchy: Legumes are the umbrella term, with pulses and beans just below. A legume refers to any plant from the Fabaceae family that would include its leaves, stems, and pods.

They include all types and forms of dry and fresh beans, soybean, dry and fresh peas, lentils, chickpeas, peanuts. A pulse is the dried edible seed from a legume plant. Pulses include dry beans, dry peas, lentils, chickpeas and lentils. Beans in their various forms, such as kidney, black, navy, pinto, fava, cannellini, black, etc. are just one type of pulse.

With their wide variety, legumes share many common benefits for a balanced, plant-rich diet. They are great for fighting inflammation as they are loaded with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds and proteins. They are rich in minerals such as potassium, which is important for regulating blood pressure, magnesium, which is needed to build bones and teeth, and iron, which is needed to transport oxygen around the body.

In addition, they are low in fat but rich in fiber and vitamins. Consuming legumes can help lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels and increase healthy gut bacteria. In summary, they can reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack, diabetes, obesity, stroke and cancer.

For health reasons, it is therefore particularly important to eat legumes at least two to three times a week. Despite their high nutrient content, legumes are also controversial because they contain anti-nutrients that can interfere with nutrient absorption. Most beans and legumes contain a high amount of phytic acid.

They sit in the shells and have a strong binding affinity for calcium, zinc, magnesium, iron and copper, which can limit their absorption. Since many anti-nutrients are water soluble, they can be significantly reduced when soaked. An additional 1 hour of cooking can even reduce the phytic acid content by up to 80%

Read the full article in Issue 21

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