The portions of a Fabaceae plant that are edible are called legumes. The Fabaceae family, often known as the Leguminosae family, is one of the most widely cultivated plant families, with over 20,000 different kinds.
Consuming meals with a low glycemic index has been shown to lower one’s risk of developing heart disease, assist in maintaining a healthy weight, and lessen the likelihood of developing diabetes.
In addition, the following positive health effects have been attributed to eating legumes:
- The high fiber content of beans makes them helpful for maintaining a healthy weight. You feel fuller for longer.
- Provides antioxidants, which have been shown to lower the risk of developing cancer, cardiovascular disease, and stroke.
- Reduces both blood pressure and inflammation, which are two variables that contribute to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Reduces the likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes as well as problems connected with it, such as high blood pressure and cholesterol.
- Provides a wonderful source of protein derived from plants for those who follow a vegan or vegetarian diet.
- Enhance your digestive health and provide nutrition for your probiotics by doing so. Probiotics are the beneficial gut bacteria that live in your colon.
- Which Foods Are Legumes?
- Why Legumes Are Important Crops?
- How Do Legumes Benefit Other Plants?
- Why Are Legumes Important In Agriculture?
Which Foods Are Legumes?
The following is a list of legumes that are often encountered:
- Chickpeas or garbanzo beans
- Pinto beans
- Navy beans
- Black or turtle beans
- Split peas
- Peanuts (Yes! A peanut is not technically a nut)
- Green peas
- Kidney beans
- Mung beans
- Lima beans
- Adzuki beans
- Black-eyed peas
- Fava beans
Why Legumes Are Important Crops?
The production of food exerts a significant demand on our resources due to the fact that the global population is at its highest point in history.
Agriculture is one of the most important contributors to environmental problems such as deforestation, climate change, the production of greenhouse gases, the depletion of freshwater resources, and environmental pollution.
There are a variety of meals that each have their own unique effects on the surrounding environment. The animal agriculture business is the second largest contributor to pollution, behind the fossil fuel industry.
In most cases, far less water, land, and other natural resources are required for the production of food based on plants.
As an example, the cultivation of one pound of legumes requires the use of 43 liters of water.
In contrast, the production of one pound of beef requires 1,857 gallons of water, whereas producing one pound of chicken only requires 469 gallons of water. (Source)
Additionally, because legumes are able to create symbiotic relationships with the bacteria that are found in the soil, they are able to absorb nitrogen from the soil rather than from the air.
The quality of the soil is improved as a result, and the plants that are nearby remain healthy.
More on that later!
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has proposed that cultivating drought-resistant legumes may be beneficial in arid settings where agriculture may provide difficulties.
Additionally, legumes may be dried and kept for extended periods of time without suffering a reduction in their nutritious content, which helps reduce the amount of food that is wasted.
How Do Legumes Benefit Other Plants?
The advantages of rotating legume plants with other crops are well knowledge among farmers. Rhizobacteria, a kind of bacteria that is naturally found in soil, and legumes have a mutually beneficial connection.
Rhizobacteria has special qualities and have the ability to extract nitrogen from the air and store it in the soil, where it may then be used to nourish legume plants.
These plants provide the bacteria with carbohydrates as a kind of payment.
This mutually beneficial interaction produces a soil that is higher in nitrogen, which will be of use to the subsequent crop planted and will help the land remain rich and fruitful for agricultural purposes.
The roots and the nodules of a legume plant are where the majority of the nitrogen is kept.
After being harvested, these roots will ultimately disintegrate and provide the nitrogen to the soil, which will be beneficial to the crop that comes after them.
It has been shown that planting wheat following a legume crop results in increased levels of both yield and protein in the wheat.
Here are some other ways in which legumes improve the quality of the soil:
boosting the amount of organic matter in the soil The majority of agricultural leftovers left behind at the end of the growing season leave behind more carbon than nitrogen.
When legumes are harvested, they leave behind significant quantities of nitrogen, which in turn promotes the breakdown of agricultural residue.
Legume plants have lengthy roots that may grow up to six to eight feet deep, which helps the soil to breathe.
The presence of a high nitrogen content in the soil entices earthworms to settle there and create burrows. The soil is aerated and circulation is increased thanks to the roots and burrows.
It has been shown that growing legumes may help lower the number of weeds, insects, and illnesses in an area.
This reduces the amount of insecticides that will be required for the subsequent crop.
Nitrogen is recycled because legumes have deep roots, thus the soil on which they are produced stays rich in nitrogen for several seasons after they have been harvested. This provides a benefit to all crops that are subsequently planted on the same area.
Increases the soil’s stability by binding it into a more stable structure via the combined efforts of the protein, the roots, and the increased nitrogen. This results in less soil loss due to erosion and crusting.
The formation of crust on the soil is harmful to the growth of new plants because it prevents seedlings from sprouting and increases the likelihood of erosion.
Helps other crops maintain their balance — Other crops, such as wheat and maize, produce crop residue that is high in carbon.
A crop of biennial or annual legumes has the potential to counteract the effects of imbalances caused by other crops and to contribute to enhanced nutritional variety in the soil.
The net pH of the soil is reduced as a result of the production of nitrogen by legumes, which results in a lower pH value. A lower pH enables greater growth and development, as well as more microbial activity, and it also encourages more microbial activity.
Why Are Legumes Important In Agriculture?
Meat has a lower protein content than legumes do, calorie for calorie.
Because there are presently 690 million people suffering from malnutrition and hunger, beans are an ideal alternative for anyone looking for a plant-based source of protein.
There is no loss of nutritional value associated with storing dried beans for extended periods of time.
In contrast, animal husbandry necessitates the use of enormous quantities of energy for the purposes of warehousing, preparing, and transporting meat across international boundaries.
After the petroleum industry, animal agribusiness is one of the most polluting businesses there is. The emissions of greenhouse gases produced by industry are more than those produced by all of the automobiles in the world combined.
According to figures provided by the FAO, the cattle industry is responsible for 14.5% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.
In addition, farming of cattle often takes place in underdeveloped nations, which typically have less stringent rules protecting the environment.
In contrast, crops such as legumes have been shown to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases such as nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide. In addition, legume crops boost the amount of nitrogen in the soil, which improves the soil’s overall quality.
This is of great advantage to crops that are grown on the same ground as legumes, which are planted in rotation.
The practice of growing two or more different types of crops in the same area at the same time is known as intercropping.
Neighboring crops are able to benefit from the improved soil quality provided by legume plants, which also helps to minimize the need for pest management and boosts output.
A research conducted on an intercrop of wheat and chickpea indicated that the number of weeds was reduced by 70 percent. (Source)
Growing legumes is an environmentally responsible and resource-efficient agricultural option since they attract fewer pests, provide greater crop yields, and leave a less carbon footprint than other crop options.
Unfortunately, a considerable drop in the production of legumes has resulted from the extensive use of fertilizers containing artificial nitrogen.
The worldwide supply of legumes began to diminish, with the exception of soybeans, which remained relatively stable.
LEGUME FACTS – Did You Know?
- Nitrogen is a fundamental component of amino acids, which are the fundamental building blocks of protein. Because beans contain a significant amount of protein, they also contain a significant amount of nitrogen.
- Before sowing, legume seeds may be treated with Rhizobacteria so that the beneficial bacteria are distributed evenly throughout the soil.
- The size of a legume plant may vary from that of a little plant to that of a huge tree.
- Beans, both black and white, were used as ballots in elections held in ancient Greece and Rome. White indicates “yes,” whereas black indicates “no.”
- The amount of fiber in legumes is rather high. Dietary fiber is indigestible, so it makes its way into the colon, where it comes into contact with the bacteria that live non your digestive tract. The fermentation process begins when the bacteria in your stomach start chewing on them. Because of this, there is a buildup of gas!
- The United States of America, Canada, Myanmar, and Australia are the top four producers of legumes.
- The food group known as “legume” includes peanuts. They don’t grow on trees as most other nuts do; instead, they sprout from the ground.
- The best time to plant beans is somewhere between the end of spring and the beginning of fall. From the moment they are planted until they are harvested, beans usually take between 55 and 60 days.
What is so special about the legumes?
The nutritional value of legumes cannot be overstated. Although they are low in calories, the high fiber and protein content will leave you feeling satisfied. Legumes include carbohydrates that are slowly metabolized by the body, which results in a consistent supply of energy for the body, brain, and neurological system. As part of a balanced diet, increasing the amount of beans you consume may help reduce both blood sugar and blood pressure.
How are legumes different from?
The seeds that are gathered from various plants are referred to as beans, whereas a legume is any plant that produces its fruit inside of a pod. The primary distinction between legumes and beans is that beans are obtained from different plants. The name “legume” refers to a group of plants that also includes pulses and beans. Therefore, the term “legume” may be used to any and all beans, but it does not apply to all legumes.
What is unique about beans and peas?
Foods like beans, peas, and lentils are all their own. In the same way as other foods in the Protein Foods Group are, they are good providers of protein as well as other nutrients such as iron and zinc. Along with other foods included in the Vegetable Group, they are also great providers of dietary fiber and essential minerals like folate and potassium.
What classifies a legume?
A plant belonging to the Fabaceae family is referred to as a legume. This includes the leaves, stems, and pods of the plant. The edible seed of a legume plant is referred to as a pulse. Peas, beans, and lentils are all examples of pulses. One example of a legume is a pea pod, however the actual pea that is contained inside the pod is the pulse.
What key nutrients is not found in legumes?
Methionine, an important amino acid, is present in legumes but only in very small levels (which is found in higher amounts in grains). On the other hand, grains have a relatively low quantity of the necessary amino acid lysine, while legumes have a sufficient amount of this substance.
Not only are legumes a superfood that comes with a wealth of health advantages, but they have also been shown to be beneficial to the environment and need very little resources for their growth. This makes them an ideal dietary choice.
Consume legumes with the satisfaction of knowing that you are contributing to a lifestyle that is more environmentally friendly.