Letting Legumes into Your Diet

Legumes (pronounced LAY-gooms) are the protein-packed staple of a vegetarian diet, but you don't have to swear off meat to enjoy them. The family of grains includes thousands of plant species, including beans, soybeans, lentils, peas, and the beloved peanut.

It's tough to find a more perfect all-round food than legumes. They're rich in protein, low in fat (what fat they do have is the good fat), high in dietary fiber, and rich in complex carbohydrates and vitamins. Besides being healthy, they're inexpensive, very versatile, and easy to use. They store well when dried, and have a shelf life of a full year.

Because legumes are also high in carbohydrate, a person with diabetes still needs to be mindful of portion sizes here. The benefits that the fiber and protein provide, however, make them a more optimal choice than the usual carbs like bread, pasta, or rice.

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