Definition of Legume

A legume is a plant that belongs to the family of Fabaceae or Leguminosae. Legume is also considered as fruit or seed of such plants. When these seeds are used as dry grains, they’re known as pulses. Pulses and legumes are produced through agriculture and get used for human consumption for livestock forage and silage and also as soil enhancing green manure. There are different types of legumes that are being produced in nature, such as Peanuts, Chickpeas, Beans, Peas, Lentils, and Lupins. 

Let's discuss each of these in a detailed way.

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Peanuts

Arachis Hypogaea, also known as peanuts or groundnuts, belong to the legume family. These types of peanut legume grow under the ground, thus making them more related to legumes such as peas and lentils. These nuts are different from tree nuts, but their nutritional composition says something else. Their composition is quite similar to tree nuts like walnuts and cashew because of the nutritional composition, peanuts got listed with other tree nuts and seeds by the Australian Dietary Guidelines Groups. Peanuts provide a massive load of nutrients such as proteins, dietary fibre, vitamins, and minerals. These peanuts are also cholesterol-free, thus making them more favourable for health.


Chickpeas

Chickpeas can be found in two types which are distinguished on the basis of seed size, shape and colour. The small variety of chickpeas are wrinkled and are found in different colours such as brown, yellow, orange, black or green. This small variety of chickpeas are known as desi chickpeas. The other variety of chickpeas are known as Kabuli chickpeas. These chickpeas are famous for their nutty flavour and are round in shape. Kabuli chickpeas are found in white and cream colours. Australia is one of the biggest exporters of chickpeas. Fresh green chickpeas can be eaten as vegetables; therefore, they’re categorised under legumes food.


Beans

Beans are considered to be one of the main ingredients for dishes from Egypt and Italy to Mexico and Brazil. There are different types of beans that are used for different flavours and textures in different dishes.  The legumes beans that are mostly grown in Australia are faba beans, mung beans, adzuki beans, and navy beans. Some other commonly found nutritious beans are as follows:

Black Beans:  These are oval-shaped beans and are black.

Borlotti Beans: These beans are also known as cranberry beans. These beans are cream coloured with red markings.


Peas

Peas are considered to be one of the first crops that got domesticated by humans. More than 90% of peas are produced in Australia. These seeds are round in shape and are green and brown. There are five types of peas that are grown in Australia, which are as follows:

  • Blackeyed Peas: This type of peas are cream in colour with a black spot on the surface.

  • Blue Peas: This type of peas are round in shape; this pea can also be used as canned peas.

  • Dun Peas: This type of peas are dimpled and have greenish-brown colour.

  • Maple Peas: These peas are round in shape with a brown outer coat with a centre that is yellow in colour. They are commonly used for stocks and feeding birds.

  • White Peas: These peas are round, having a white outer coat with a yellow inner part.

Lentils

Lentils are considered to be one of the oldest crops present in the globe. In 2008, Australia was awarded the third position for exporting the most amount of lentils into the world, behind the  USA and Canada. Lentils are not to be soaked before cooking, but other legume seeds require soaking. These types of legumes are sold in a split, which is why they get cooked more quickly than other seeds. There are different lentil types. Let's discuss some of them:-

  • Yellow Lentils and Red Lentils: This type of lentils are small and round in shape. They are used in soups and Indian curries.

  • Green Lentils: This lentil is much larger than other lentils and has a flattened seed inside them. They are considered to be sturdier. Thus they are recommended for slow cooking.

Lupins

Lupins are available in two varieties, among which one is Australian sweet lupin, and the other one is Albus Lupin. These legumes are popular in the middle east and Europe. The ASL is round in shape with a yellow pigment, whereas the Albus lupin is white, having a flattened and oval shape.  Immature lupin seeds have a similar taste to beans; thus, they can also be used as vegetables for human consumption. Lupin flour can also be used for preparing different varieties of foods.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. What are the Advantages of Legumes?

Ans: The important advantages of legumes are:

  • Legumes are considered to be good and recommendable for a healthy diet, especially for those who are vegetarians and avoid eating meat because legumes contain a lot of proteins that are good for health.

  • In addition to proteins, legumes also provide carbohydrates, vitamin B, fibre and are rich in various minerals such as potassium, calcium, iron, etc.

  • The nucleic acid present in the legumes is considered to be an antidote for ageing. This acid makes the body capable of renewing the cells; thus, you will look younger.

  • Legumes are considered to be good for hair health as they make it strong and protect hair fall.

2. What are the Disadvantages of Beans and Legumes?

Ans: Some of the most important disadvantages of beans and legumes are as follows:

  • The proteins that a human gets from eating legume are of low quality and cannot match the protein's quality that a human body gets from meat. This low quality is because they lack amino acids such as methionine and cysteine.

  • Vegetarians suffer the most because they don't find the required amount of protein from legumes.

  • They have a high risk of livestock bloat.

  • Under grazing, the legumes have less persistent quality than grass which is a major disadvantage.

  • Legumes are difficult to conserve as compared to other seeds.

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