Beans and legumes are major players in the Mediterranean diet food pyramid. They are a great source of protein without fat and cholesterol; they lower cholesterol levels, control diabetes, prevent constipation and help maintain optimal weight.
Dry beans and peas are known as legumes and grow in pods that hang from the stems of legumes plants. In the pods, we find the lentils, peas, beans, and peanuts which have been part of people's diet for thousands of years. These two items are a must in a Mediterranean meal.
Dry beans and peas are the richest in protein from all plant foods. They also contain starch, dietary fiber, and are a good source of iron, potassium, folic acid, and B vitamins which include thiamine, niacin, and folacin. Legumes are also low glycemic index foods.
Legumes are an excellent source of B vitamins, B vitamins are water-soluble and are lost in the process of cooking. A serving of cooked beans supplies 40 percent of the daily recommended amounts of thiamin and B6.
Research has indicated that amino acids in beans join perfectly with those in grains to provide protein that is equivalent to or better than animal protein.
Beans and legumes are hearty food and contain nutrients that are beneficial to our health. Combined with their rich protein content, they can be a great substitute for meat – thus avoiding concentrated saturated fats and cholesterol and keeping your weight at bay.
Beans and peas are low-fat, and whatever fat they contain is polyunsaturated, which we already know protects us from blood vessels and heart diseases. The Mediterranean Diet pyramid calls for having 5 – 6 servings of beans and legumes weekly.