Legumes: carbohydrates or proteins? How to combine them in a balanced meal according to the nutritionist

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Elia Tabuenca García
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Should legumes be considered carbohydrates or proteins? Which foods is it more correct to combine them with? We asked "our" nutritionist

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In our diet we should more often include legumes of which there are many varieties. They are generally considered vegetable proteins, but what do they really contain and which foods is it more correct to combine them with? We asked "our" nutritionist.

Chickpeas, lentils, beans, peas but also soy are just some of the many legumes that we can consume, varying according to our tastes or the recipes we want to prepare. These are precious and rich in properties plant foods that too often we forget to include in our diet or to which we reserve a too marginal place.

To know the characteristics of legumes and to know how to best match them in order to make the most of their benefits, we asked the nutritionist for help Flavio Pettirossi.

What are the benefits of eating legumes?

"Legumes are an exceptional food and for this reason they represent one of the pillars of the Mediterranean diet. They are a wonderful source of fiber. I am one of the best sources of carbohydrates complex and also have a good protein content. Regarding their protein source, however, there is an important aspect to underline, namely that the proteins that legumes provide are not proteins of high biological value. This means that they are not proteins that our body can use well. The reason is related to the fact that they lack certain amino acids, i.e. they are not complete proteins (as are those contained in eggs, fish or meat).

So how can we make the most of the nutritional benefits of legumes? What should we associate them with?

"Since our body needs complete proteins to use the amino acids they are made of to build its own proteins, it is important to associate another protein source with legumes. For example i cereals (preferring wholemeal ones) because cereals, in addition to being a source of carbohydrates, are also sources of protein. For example, spelled provides 15% protein. Furthermore, since the cereal proteins are also of low biological value, by associating them with legumes you will be able to compose a complete dish from a protein point of view ".

In addition to cereals, what other foods could we combine them with?

“To make the dish more digestible, it is a good idea to combine it with cereals and legumes from vegetables. Or legumes can be associated with high biological value protein sources such as fish. For example, a classic combination is tuna and beans. This is an excellent food combination because in this way we go to have a complete amino acid pool ".

We had also already wondered if, in addition to dried or fresh ones, canned legumes are also a good option. In this regard, read also:

  • Legumes, the best protein, but canned ones are ok too?

But be careful to choose the legumes we buy well. One of the last tests we told you about had found the presence of glyphosate and pesticides in some brands of chickpeas.

  • Canned chickpeas, found traces of glyphosate and pesticides. Cirio among the best brands in the test

On legumes, read also:

  • Beans and lentils will save us! We need to grow more legumes to reduce pesticides and really feed the earth
  • Dried legumes: how to use them in the kitchen and beyond
  • Legume diet: how it works, weekly schedule, what to eat and contraindications
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