How Many Servings of Legumes to Eat per Week
The food pyramid gives information about healthy foods that should be part of your diet, but how many should you eat per week? Fruits and vegetables should be eaten daily but the recommended amounts vary when it comes to pulses, depending on the circumstances of each group of people. To clarify any doubts, this OneHowTo article will help you to discover how many servings of legumes should you eat per week? It will also indicate the nutritional value of each one and why it is an indispensable food in order to live healthily.
Legumes and their nutritional content
Within the food pyramid, legumes are an important group which must be consumed frequently to get high quality nutrients into your body and to provide large doses of protein and carbohydrates.
Protein is provided by ingredients such as beans, lentils or chickpeas and are of vegetable origin, so are perfect for people who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet so they can include this nutrient in their bodies. However, it is true that protein intake is much lower in most legumes, except for soybeans where the amount offered is comparable to a piece of meat or fish.
This is one of the best alternatives to avoid excessive animal protein intake. You can benefit from using it in a similar way whilst avoiding overloading your liver or your kidneys. In fact, 20% of the content in many of these foods is made up of protein, based on 100 per cent of raw product.
The fiber contained in legumes helps to improve digestive processes, as well as boosting the intestinal transit, which allows the body to cleanse itself naturally, prevent constipation and improve cholesterol levels.
This food group also contains carbohydrates among its ingredients. Therefore, it can be considered to be a very nutritious choice for both its protein and carbohydrate content. Legumes contain slow absorption carbohydrates, i.e. they do not raise the blood's glycaemic index. They contribute doses of energy to your body when it needs them, without which they would end up accumulating in the body as saturated fat.
They are perfect for weight loss diets because they are low in fat. There is a false myth that legumes can make you fatter, but this is not true. The accompaniments usually eaten with them are generally what cause weight gain (fatty meats, oils for frying, hearty bread, etc.). For example, if you eat a dish of legumes sautéed with vegetables, or a salad made with these foods, no fat will be contributed, merely a multitude of nutrients.
How many servings of legumes per week?
Now that you know all the benefits of legumes and the significant nutritional content offered, the next question to answer is how many servings of legumes should I eat per week? Nutritionists suggest that we should eat legumes at least twice a week and a maximum of 4 times a week.
You must keep in mind that some groups of people need more energy input. Therefore, it is recommended that you eat them between 3 to 4 times each week. These groups include children, the sick or the elderly as these are people who require more nutrients and a higher input of energy. Children should eat them especially, because they help to improve the growth of bones and muscles too, which make them stronger and healthier.
The ideal is 2 to 4 times a week for healthy adults. When this frequency is achieved, the body obtains a healthy, balanced diet with all the nutrients that it needs to stay strong. If you are vegetarian or vegan, you can increase intake to up to 5 times per week to supplement a lack of animal protein.
The recommended intake amount for each social group is as follows:
- Children aged 3 to 9 years should have 40 to 50 grams (1.4 oz to 1.7 oz) in raw weight.
- Teenagers aged 10 to 16 years should have 50 to 70 grams (1.7 to 2.4 oz).
- Adults aged 17 to 50 should have 60 to 80 grams (2.1 to 2.8 oz).
- Adults over 50 years should have between 40 and 50 grams (1.4 oz to 1.7 oz).
- Children apart from those ages specified and adults: 60 to 80 grams (2.1 to 2.8 oz) in raw weight.
Avoid intestinal gas from legumes
Some people do not often introduce legumes into their diet because they produce flatulence. In fact, people with intestinal problems may have problems in digesting these foods and, therefore, avoid eating them. If you suffer from irritable bowel syndrome or another digestive disorder, OneHowTo recommends that you talk to your doctor so they can explain how you can eat legumes and what the recommended amount is for you.
However, if you experience annoying gases when eating these foods, here are some tips to help you reduce flatulence and thus improve your digestion:
- Do not combine them with other sources of protein (meat, sausages, etc.) or with too much cereal. It is best to eat them individually or with a few vegetables.
- Do not mix them with flatulent foods such as cabbage, lettuce, etc.
- Chew them slowly to prevent excessive air sneaking into your intestines and therefore producing more gas.
- Add aromatic spices to your cooking: some herbs aid digestion such as cumin, thyme, rosemary and fennel, for example. Try it!
- Shorten how long they boil: This is one of the best tricks for reducing flatulence from legumes. So, when they are boiling, turn off the heat and allow them to rest for 10 minutes, then place them back on the heat.
OneHowTo gives you more tricks for avoiding gas-producing vegetables.
This article is merely informative, oneHOWTO does not have the authority to prescribe any medical treatments or create a diagnosis. We invite you to visit your doctor if you have any type of condition or pain.
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