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Many varieties of soybean.

A legume is a type of dry fruit usually produced by plants in the family Fabaceae. Legumes can be a variety of fruits: peas and beans are types of legumes.

What legumes have in common[change | change source]

Legumes grow from the carpel, the female reproductive part of a plant. The fruit of a legume is found inside a pod that can be split on both sides. However, there are some foods that grow inside pods that are not legumes.

Peas inside their pods.

Health[change | change source]

Legumes contain many healthy nutrients, such as protein. They are a good source of protein for vegetarians and vegans, people who do not eat meat. They also contain fibre, which promotes a healthy digestive system. However, they contain some nutrients which humans struggle to digest. It is recommended that legumes are soaked before cooking to increase nutrient absorption.[1] Some amino acids, such as methionine, are not abundant in some legumes but are needed to help the body use protein.

Use[change | change source]

India imports (buys from other countries) the most legumes. This may be because a lot of Indians follow the religion of Hinduism, which does not approve of people eating meat. Legumes are a cheap and plentiful source of food in a country where around 22% of the population are in poverty. The top four producers and exporters (selling to other countries) of legumes are:

The USA uses legumes for a variety of reasons, and is the highest producer. It uses soybeans to feed cattle and make vegetable oil. Peanuts are a popular snack food in the USA and these are also a type of legume.

Related pages[change | change source]

References[change | change source]

  1. Sandberg, Ann-Sofie (2002). "Bioavailability of minerals in legumes". British Journal of Nutrition. 88: Suppl. 3, S281–S285. doi:10.1079/BJN/2002718. Retrieved 22 February 2016.