Legumes: make room for them on your plate!

[Article updated on 19/09/2023]

Recommended at least twice a week by the PNNS (National Nutrition and Health Program), legumes are not one of the French’s favorite dishes: less than 15% of adults say they eat them.

Before reading on

I’m not an expert in this field, but I am passionate about nutrition and health.

The articles you’ll find on my site are the result of in-depth research that I’d like to share with you. However, I would like to stress that I am not a health professional and that my advice should in no way replace that of a qualified physician. I’m here to guide you, but it’s important that you consult a professional for specific questions or medical concerns. Your well-being is important. So be sure to consult the appropriate experts and take the best possible care of yourself.

So let’s zoom in on these foods that have many nutritional benefits.

What is this ?

Called legumes or dried vegetables, these are dried beans such as red beans, white beans as well as lentils, chickpeas, split peas, broad beans, etc.

They are consumed in the form of soup, puree or to compose a dish by consuming the seeds. They can be eaten both cold in a salad and hot.

Another source of starchy foods

Rich in starch, legumes are a very good way to vary our intake of starchy foods and change from the usual rice, pasta or even potatoes.

In addition, they have a low glycemic index. The glycemic index indicates the ability of a food to raise blood sugar, this means that legumes raise it little. A benefit which turns out to be interesting, for example, for people with diabetes. This also indicates that they will be satiating in a smaller quantity than for a food with a medium or low glycemic index and that it will satiate you for longer.

Foods rich in fiber

Dried vegetables are composed of both soluble and insoluble fiber.

Insoluble fiber absorbs water, increases the volume of stools and stimulates intestinal contractions which allows stools to move better through the colon. They help speed up transit and are anti-constipation allies.

Soluble fiber forms a sort of gel during digestion and thus helps reduce or slow down the absorption of certain nutrients such as fats, cholesterol or even carbohydrates. This is what allows these foods to have a low glycemic index. By reducing the absorption of fats and cholesterol, they also have a role in preventing cardiovascular diseases.

Source of plant proteins, an ally for a vegetarian diet

On average, pulses contain 8g of protein per 100g.

However, they do not contain all the essential amino acids. It is therefore necessary to combine them with an intake of cereals (rice, pasta, buckwheat, etc.) or corn during the same meal.

In addition, given its fiber content, 60 to 70% of plant proteins are absorbed, where 90% of animal proteins are. It is therefore advisable to also include an intake of dairy products (sauce made from milk or yogurt, cheese, etc.) during this same meal, which will complement the intake.

A prebiotic for our intestinal flora

Composed of galactans and fructans, these 2 sugars are poorly absorbed by our small intestine. They will therefore arrive at the level of our colon and act as food for our intestinal flora to allow it to remain in good balance and proper functioning.

This also explains why some people are very sensitive to these foods and experience bloating and flatulence when eating them.

If this is your case, here are some tips to improve the digestion of legumes:

  • Soak them in water for several hours before cooking them
  • If you eat them canned, discard the soaking water and rinse the legumes well
  • Put baking soda in the cooking water
  • Consume them in the form of puree
  • Use cumin or ginger which improve their digestion
  • Favor the consumption of lentils or split peas which are more digestible than the others.

Foods rich in vitamins and minerals

Dried vegetables are rich:

  • In potassium
  • Magnesium: Magnesium deficiencies are common in the event of an overly refined diet, repeated stress or even during periods of intense training in athletes.
  • Iron: even if the iron from plant products is less well absorbed than that from animal products, it can constitute an interesting supplement, particularly for vegetarians.
  • Zinc
  • In group B vitamins.

An ally for the environment and for our wallet

Growing legumes does not require nitrogen input because they have the capacity to fix atmospheric nitrogen. This makes it possible to reduce fertilizer inputs for crops and reduce overall nitrogen consumption, therefore reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Another good point for biodiversity, they attract bees and serve as a refuge for other wild species.

In addition, they allow extremely significant energy savings compared to livestock farming. In fact, the surface area required to produce the same quantity of animal protein is 10 times greater than for the production of plant proteins. Legumes also need less water than other plants even in drought.

Finally, the cereal/legume combination is much cheaper than consuming a food rich in animal proteins such as eggs, fish or meat.

Recipe idea

Broccoli and chickpea tabbouleh

An idea for combining cereals and legumes to eat both hot and cold.

Preparation time: 10 min / Cooking time: 15 min / Number of servings: 4


265 g of semolina, 800 g of broccoli, 400 g of canned chickpeas, 1 lemon, 4 tablespoons of olive oil, 15 prunes, salt, pepper.

Preparation of the recipe

  • Wash then cut the broccoli into pieces.
  • Boil a pot of salted water. Once the water boils, cook the broccoli for 4 minutes until al dente.
  • In another saucepan, cook the semolina according to the package instructions.
  • Cut the prunes into pieces.
  • Once the broccoli and semolina are cooked, drain them. Reheat the chickpeas in a saucepan or in the microwave.
  • Place the semolina in a salad bowl, fluff it with a fork. Add the olive oil and lemon juice. Mix.
  • Add the chickpeas, prunes, broccoli. Season with salt and pepper to taste. You can add the spices and aromatic herbs of your choice (parsley, Provence herbs, mint, etc.).