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assortment of colourful legumes

Health benefits of legumes

20 Apr 2021 • 1 min read


Beans, beans, they’re good for the heart, the more you eat… the more health benefits you enjoy!

Beans are a kind of legume, and when they’re dried, they’re typically referred to as pulses.  When they’re fresh, like peas, green beans, and fava beans, they’re referred to as vegetables.

In some circles, legumes are controversial. Legumes contain phytic acid,  a compound which inhibits the absorption of some nutrients, including zinc and iron.1 However, scientific studies show that the phytochemical’s within legumes promote good health throughout life.2

What are legumes?

Legumes are the seeds of grain plants from the Fabaceae family. They contain proteins, amino acids, and healthy fats.3

Types of legumes

Legumes come in two varieties: pulses, which are dried legumes, and vegetable legumes.

Pulse varieties include:

  • Black-eyed peas
  • Chickpeas
  • Beans, including cannellini, butter, kidney and soy
  • Lentils

Vegetable varieties include:

  • Peas
  • Green beans
  • Fava beans

Benefits of legumes

Legumes are associated with a wide variety of health benefits, including:

  • Digestive health

Lentils contain soluble fibres which can’t be digested by your intestine or stomach, so wire good bacteria directly to your colon.4

  • Plant-based proteins 

Eating plenty of plant-based proteins has been associated with lower co-morbidities later in life.5 Legumes are considered among the best plant-based sources of protein in the world.6

  • Lower body weight

Frequent consumers of legumes are much less likely to be obese than those who never eat them.7

  • Lower cholesterol levels

Legumes are associated with reduced instances of ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol, which is connected to a variety of adverse health outcomes.8,9

  • Lower blood pressure

Legume consumers typically enjoy lower blood pressure than their non-legume consuming counterparts.10 This is excellent for legume lovers, as high blood pressure is associated with higher instances of disease.11

Which legumes are healthiest?

Although all legumes are delicious, not all legumes are created equal. Here are our favourite legumes, ranked in terms of health benefits:

  1. Chickpeas

 Although they may be small, chickpea’s health benefits are mighty. Chickpeas, in contrast with other carbohydrate-dense foods, reduce blood sugar and do not cause blood sugar spikes.12,13 Because of this, they can help you avoid the adverse health outcomes associated with high blood sugar.14 

  1. Lentils

Delicious in daals, soups and stews, lentils are a health powerhouse. Lentils have been shown to reduce ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol and increase heart supporting HDL cholesterol.15

  1. Peas

Who doesn’t love peas with a Sunday roast? Peas are full of fibre, which scientific studies have shown help to promote weight loss and support normal digestive transit.16

  1. Kidney beans

Kidney beans are another excellent bean for avoiding blood sugar spikes and achieving weight loss ambitions.17,18

  1. Soybeans

Extensive studies which have assessed soybean consumption across populations suggests that regularly eating soy lowers your risk of developing illnesses of the stomach.19

Last updated: 2 April 2021



Author: Bhupesh PanchalSenior Regulatory Affairs Associate

Joined Holland & Barrett: Apr 2019

Masters Degree in Toxicology and BSc Hons in Medical Biochemistry

Bhupesh started his career as a Clinical Toxicologist for Public Health England, advising healthcare professionals all around the country on how to manage clinical cases of adverse exposure to supplements, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, industrial chemicals and agricultural products.

After 7 years in this role and a further year working as a drug safety officer in the pharmaceutical industry, Bhupesh joined Holland & Barrett as a Senior Regulatory Affairs Associate in 2019.

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