Legumes: list, properties, nutritional values

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Louise Hay


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Legumes they are quite complete foods, which contain:

  • Carbohydrates;
  • fibre;
  • proteins;
  • numerous minerals;
  • vitamins;
  • antioxidants.

Although they also contain carbohydrates, are mainly considered as a protein source, to be replaced at least three times a week for meat, eggs, cheese or fish. 

Furthermore, they are economical and very versatile in the kitchen, as well as characteristic of the Mediterranean diet. In fact, there are numerous recipes with the typical legumes of the Mediterranean area. Let's find out better.


  • What are legumes 
  • Complete list of legumes 
  • beans 
  • Ceci 
  • peas 
  • Lentils 
  • Green Beans 
  • Fave 
  • Soy 
  • Carrube 
  • Lupini 
  • Peanuts 
  • Cicerchie 
  • Benefits of legumes 
  • Contraindications and side effects


What are legumes 

Legumes are the seeds contained within the pods of the plants belonging to the Legume family, among which ceci, beans e lentils.

They are typical of Mediterranean cuisine and there are many varieties spread all over the world, sold fresh, dried, frozen or cooked, canned or glass.

In any form, legumes they are a valuable source of nutrients and have numerous health benefits, as well as being cheap, tasty and very versatile.


Complete list of legumes 

Le there are many varieties of legumes and some of these, on a nutritional level, are classified into different categories.

For example, green beans, although botanically they belong to the category of legumes, for their nutritional characteristics they are considered vegetables. Let's see together the complete list of legumes.


Neri, Rossi, Azuki, Cannellini, Borlotti, Bianchi di Spagna, there are really many varieties and the benefits of beans are numerous.

They are rich in nutrients, including proteins, folates, antioxidants and boast several properties, including that of counteract hypercholesterolemia, hyperglycemia, cardiovascular disease and cancer.


Rich in fiber, chickpeas reduce blood sugar and improve insulin sensitivity. Furthermore, they are allies of intestinal well-being.


Peas are also rich in fiber and protein, they promote satiety and intestinal transit and have a positive effect on blood sugar and blood triglycerides.


Lentils are a concentrate of nutrients and these also act by improving all parameters related to chronic diseases, such as blood sugar and cholesterol. Furthermore, promote the quality of intestinal bacteria, helping to maintain intestinal health.


Green Beans

Green beans are legumes, but nutritionally they are much more similar to vegetables. I am rich in fiber, vitamin C, vitamin A, magnesium, iron, calcium and potassium.



Rich in folate, beans promote correct embryonic and fetal development. Furthermore, they strengthen the immune system, counteract neurodegenerative diseases and anemia.



Soy, from which derivatives such as tofu and tempeh are also produced, is rich in proteins, antioxidants, iron, manganese, phosphorus and vitamin K. It would seem reduce cardiovascular risk and the risk of breast and gastrointestinal cancer.



The carob is a little known legume with a taste similar to cocoa and used mainly in the form of flour. It is low in fat, rich in fiber, calcium and antioxidants.



We see lupins especially on the aperitif tables, but they are an excellent and healthy snack, to be included more often in our diet. Like other legumes, also lupins have a positive effect on hyperglycemia, hypertension and dyslipidemia.



Peanuts are legumes, but nutritionally they are much more similar to nuts in shell. In fact, they are rich in good fats, proteins and fibers.



Cicerchie are a very ancient and little known legume today. Despite their beneficial properties, they are mainly known for their content of a neurotoxic substance called ODAP, which, however, is capable of causing damage to health only if taken in rather large doses.


Benefits of legumes 

Legumes are a typical food of the Mediterranean diet, as they are rich in nutrients and properties. They contain carbohydrates, proteins, fibers, minerals and vitamins and, according to the Guidelines for healthy eating of the Council for Agricultural Research and Analysis of Agricultural Economics (CREA), you should take at least 2-4 servings per week.


What are the main health benefits:

  • Rich in fiber, they promote satiety and intestinal transit.
  • They improve cholesterol.
  • They improve blood sugar.
  • They improve blood pressure.
  • They reduce the risk of cardiovascular, diabetes 2 and some cancers.

Legumes are among the most fiber-rich foods: discover the others


Contraindications and side effects

For their high fiber content, legumes could cause bloating or gastrointestinal upset if not consumed regularly or if high amounts are taken. In these cases, it is useful to prefer peeled and / or pureed legumes.

Legumes contain some molecules called antinutrients because they can counteract the absorption of some nutrients. Particularly, legumes have phytic acid, which counteracts the absorption of minerals such as zinc, calcium and iron. However, it is possible to reduce the content by soaking the dried legumes.

Legumes they contain lectins, proteins that can have an inflammatory effect on the intestine, hinder the absorption of some nutrients and promote the aggregation of red blood cells. Also in this case, its content can be reduced by soaking and cooking the legumes.

The properties, nutritional values ​​and calories of chickpeas



Legumes, among the natural food supplements of magnesium


Other articles on legumes

  • Do you know the minor legumes?

  • Seeds and legumes in the vegetarian diet

  • Fresh and canned legumes

Bibliography and sources

Food poisoning from raw red kidney beans, British medical journal

Consumption of nuts and legumes and risk of incident ischemic heart disease, stroke, and diabetes: a systematic review and meta-analysis, The American journal of clinical nutrition

Legumes and soybeans: overview of their nutritional profiles and health effects, The American journal of clinical nutrition

Peanut consumption improves indices of cardiovascular disease risk in healthy adults, Journal of the American College of Nutrition

Meta-analysis of soy intake and breast cancer risk, Journal of the National Cancer Institute

Lentil Sprouts Effect On Serum Lipids of Overweight and Obese Patients with Type 2 Diabetes, Health Promot Perspect

Effects on parameters of glucose homeostasis in healthy humans from ingestion of leguminous versus maize starches, European Journal of Nutrition

Chickpeas may influence fatty acid and fiber intake in an ad libitum diet, leading to small improvements in serum lipid profile and glycemic control, Journal of the American Dietetic Association

Effect of legumes as part of a low glycemic index diet on glycemic control and cardiovascular risk factors in type 2 diabetes mellitus: a randomized controlled trial, Archives of internal medicine

Folic acid to reduce neonatal mortality from neural tube disorders, International journal of epidemiology, International journal of epidemiology

Broad bean (Vicia faba) consumption and Parkinson's disease, Advances in neurology

Nuts and Seeds in Health and Disease Prevention, Encyclopedia of Food and Health

Guidelines for healthy eating, CREA

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