Food Guides

Legume Guide

Legumes are a rich source of plant-based proteins. In addition to proteins, legumes also contain Vitamin B complex, minerals (iron, folate, magnesium, potassium, etc.) and phytochemicals. One cup of cooked legumes provides around 15-20 grams protein.

Legumes reduce risk of cardiovascular diseases, peripheral artery disease, hypertension, atherosclerosis, etc. (1, 2). Legumes can also help in reversing vascular impairment due to peripheral artery disease. (3) They are also beneficial for managing hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol, high triglycerides). (4, 5) The nutritional profile of legumes is also beneficial in cardiometabolic risk prevention. (6)

Key Recommendation

Here are important recommendations for legumes.

Variety

Include a variety of legumes in your diet. Do not eat the same type of legume daily. If you eat the same variety of legumes, it may be possible suffering from gas and flatulence problems. Chickpeas and beans are gas-forming legumes.

Preference

The preference should be given to mung (green lentil), masoor (red lentil), fresh green beans and fresh green peas.

All lentils are the best in all legumes except black lentils. You can take lentils twice a week. We generally recommend Mung and Masoor lentils twice a week.

Beans (such as kidney beans, Black Beans, Cranberry Beans, etc.) are inferior quality and least recommended. You should avoid eating beans daily. Beans should be less in your weekly diet. We recommend taking beans only once a week. Choose four different beans over the month. Do not eat the same beans every week.

Alternate

Legumes have 5 subtypes (Lentils, Peas, Chickpea, Soy and Beans). You should alternate each type. Do not consume the same type of legume daily, especially beans.

Day 1Mung (Green Beans) + Masoor (Red Lentils)
Day 2Fresh Green Beans
Day 3Chickpeas
Day 4Mung (Green Beans) + Masoor (Red Lentils)
Day 5Edamame
Day 6Fresh Green Peas
Day 7Beans (choose one)

Soak

Soaking the legumes is particularly important. Never miss soaking. Soak lentils overnight (6-8 hours) before cooking. Soak beans and chickpeas for 24 hours before cooking. In the case of beans and chickpeas, change the water after every 6 hours and wash 2-3 times. This process eliminates antinutrient compound in the beans and reduces the gas-forming effects.

TypeSoaking Duration
Lentils6-8 hours
Split Lentils2-4 hours
Fresh Peas15 minutes
Dried Peas6-8 hours
Chickpeas24 hours
Beans24 hours
Tofu1-2 hours
Sprouts15 minutes
Edamame15 minutes

Soak legumes in Turmeric Water for the recommended duration (except tofu). Soak tofu in plain water.

Spice Up

Add antispasmodic and antiflatulent spices, especially for beans and chickpeas. For example, add cumin seeds, asafoetida, clove, mace, or nutmeg to the legume recipe to avoid gas-forming effects. Asafoetida and cumin seeds are more important than other spices in case of beans.

For the best results, add one teaspoon of soaked sesame seeds, a pinch of asafetida (Hing), one spoon of crushed ginger, one teaspoon of roasted cumin seeds in food recipes that include chickpeas and beans. It reduces the gas-forming of chickpeas.

Legume Categories

We divide legumes to provide the healthiest recommendation for selecting the most suitable and well-tolerable legumes.

Essential Legumes (Group 1)

  1. Mung (green gram)
  2. Masoor (red lentil).
  3. Fresh green beans.
  4. Fresh green peas.
  5. Pigeon peas (including Toor/Arhar dal).

These are the most recommended group of legumes. You can eat these legumes 4-5 times a week. These legumes are most tolerable legumes and do not cause any problems in most individuals.

Recommended Legumes (Group 2)

  1. Edamame (immature soybeans)
  2. Mung sprouts.
  3. Lentils (all types that are not listed under other group).
  4. Black Chickpeas.
  5. White Chickpeas.
  6. Split Chickpeas (Kala Chana Dal).
  7. Dried Green Peas.

You can eat these legumes 2-3 times a week.

Acceptable Legumes (Group 3)

  1. Tempeh.
  2. Black Beans.
  3. Kidney beans.

You can include acceptable legumes 1-2 times a week.

Inferior Legumes (Group 4)

These legumes are inferior quality and least acceptable. You should not eat them whenever possible.

  1. Tofu.
  2. Vatana (White Peas).
  3. Adzuki Beans.
  4. Anasazi Beans.
  5. Appaloosa Beans.
  6. Black Calypso Beans.
  7. Black-Eyed Peas.
  8. Bolita Beans.
  9. Cannellini Beans.
  10. Christmas Lima Beans.
  11. Cranberry Beans.
  12. Eye of the Goat Beans.
  13. Fava Beans.
  14. Flageolets (Fayot).
  15. Great Northern Beans.
  16. Jacob’s Cattle Beans.
  17. Lima Beans.
  18. Marrow Beans.
  19. Navy Beans.
  20. Pinto Beans.
  21. Rattlesnake Beans.
  22. Red Beans.
  23. Scarlet Runner Beans.
  24. Soybeans (matured).
  25. Processed soy products – soy milk, tofu, etc.

These are the least recommended group of legumes. You should avoid eating these legumes frequently. You can include any of these legumes once a week. Choose four different beans over the month. Do not eat the same beans every week.

These legumes cause abdominal discomfort, frequent urination, insomnia, bloating, flatulence and gas. According to ayurveda, these legumes increase and aggravate Vata Dosha and Kapha Dosha. Some of these also aggravate Pitta Dosha. The effects on doshas are more significant as compared to other groups of legumes. Therefore, these are the least acceptable legumes.

Legume Types

There are several types of legumes based on botanical classification.

  1. Lentils (Lens culinaris).
  2. Beans (Phaseolus, Vicia faba, Vigna).
  3. Peas (Pisum sativum, Cajanus cajan).
  4. Chickpeas (Cicer arietinum).
  5. Soybeans (Glycine max).

This classification is just for information. In terms of healthy recommendation, this classification is insignificant.

Recommended Legume Servings

Legumes are an important part of the whole food plant-based diet. In combination with nuts and seeds, legumes should contribute 25% of your diet, according to plate principle.

Standard Serving Size for Legumes

Type1 Serving Size equal to:
Cooked Legumes (Lentils, Beans, Chickpea)½ cup (125 g)
Fresh Green Pea1 cup (150 g)
Cooked Fresh Green Pea½ cup
Fresh Green Beans1 cup (150 g)
Cooked Fresh Green Beans½ cup
Hummus (Mashed cooked legumes)¼ cup (60 g)
Sprouts1 cup (150 g)
Edamame1 cup (150 g)
Tofu, Tempeh½ cup (125 g)

Recommended Daily Amount

Age Group (in years)MinimumMaximum
1-2½ serving1 serving
2-3¾ serving1 ½ serving
4-81 serving2 servings
9-111 ½ serving3 servings
12-141 ½ serving3 servings
15-181 ½ serving3 servings
19-501 ½ serving3 servings
51-701 ½ serving2 servings
70+1 serving2 servings
Pregnant1 ¾ serving3 ½ serving
Lactating1 ½ serving3 servings

Minimum Recommended Amount:

If you have any of the following conditions, you should take legumes in the minimum recommended amount:

  1. Eating Nuts in High Amount: If you are taking nuts in a high amount. The high amount refers to “Maximum Acceptable Daily Amount” provided in Nuts’ Guide.
  2. Less Physically Active.
  3. Exercise less than 30 minutes a day.

Maximum Recommended Amount:

If you have any of the following conditions, you should take legumes in the maximum recommended amount:

  1. If you suffer from obesity and cardiovascular diseases, you should not take nuts. Check Nuts’ Guide for more details. In such cases, you should increase legumes intake to the maximum recommended amount.
  2. People with high protein needs should also increase the intake of legumes to the maximum recommended amount.

Sprouts

You can eat sprouts if you prefer. Sprinkle black pepper powder on sprouts. Take care of the sprouting process and avoid bacterial and fungal contamination. Contaminated sprouts can be a risk factor for food poisoning. However, the risk factor of food poisoning from sprouts is 1000 times lower than eggs. If you cook sprouts before eating, the risk factor is nil.

Sprouts have a great healing power. It can help in the prevention of many diseases. Mung sprouts are the best and most recommended among others.

How to Cook Lentils, Beans and Chickpeas

  1. Pre-soak legumes as per recommendations. For example, pre-soak lentils for at least 4 hours (recommended 6-8 hours), beans and chickpeas for at least 8 hours (recommended 24 hours).
  2. Discard the water in which legumes are soaked.
  3. Now, take 1 part of legumes in 4 parts of water. Add puree.
  4. Puree: For making puree, take pre-soaked native nuts or seeds (e.g., sesame seeds, cashews etc.), tomatoes, salt, green chilies, fresh ginger, black pepper, turmeric, green cardamom seeds and cinnamon in a blender. Blend the mixture and make the puree. If you eat onions and garlic, you can also add them to the blender along with other ingredients.
  5. Boil water with legumes and puree. Simmer it until legumes become soft. For lentils, it may take less time.
  6. If you use a pressure cooker, turn off gas after one whistle in case of lentils. If you are cooking beans and chickpeas, then reduce the flame after the first whistle and cook it for 15-20 minutes. If you have not pre-soaked beans and chickpeas for at least 8 hours, cooking will take about an hour.
  7. Enjoy your legume curries with whole grains.

How to Avoid Gas-Forming Effects of Legumes

The least recommended legumes (most beans) and white chickpeas are gas-forming. Soaking them for 24 hours before cooking and changing water and washing 2-3 times after every 6 hours reduces the gas-forming effect significantly. But still, you can experience gas formation and flatulence. To get rid of this effect, you should also eat the following spice mixture:

SpicesMixing Proportion
Carom Seeds20 g
Fennel Seeds30 g
Clove10 g
Green Cardamon Seeds10 g
Cumin Seeds10 g
Asafetida (Hing)2.5 g

Dosage: ½ tsp. With lukewarm water. You can take it twice on a day when you consume beans and chickpea.

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Dr. Jagdev Singh

Dr. Jagdev Singh (B.A.M.S., M. Sc. in Medicinal Plants) is an Ayurvedic Practitioner and Herbalist. He has successfully treated thousands of patients with Ayurveda (including Herbal Ayurvedic Medicine and Ayurvedic Diet). Ayur Times is an initiative of his efforts to bring quality information on Indian Medicine with the highest level of relevancy and scientific evidence.
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