Why We Should be Consuming More Legumes and Other Plant-Based Proteins
Beans and legumes rocked our menu this week at Shane Diet & Fitness Resorts in New York, providing our busy bodies with quality plant-based protein. We’ve all heard the adage “magical beans” which is most appropriate due to beans’ incredible health benefits. Researchers have shown that butyrate, a fatty acid by–product of the digestion of dietary fiber by gut microbes and found in legumes, reduces proliferation of cancer cells and blood vessels that feed tumors1. Other studies have associated legume consumption with reduced heart disease and improved blood sugar levels2.
Why do we love legumes so much at Shane? As if the scientific research on the chronic health benefits of the “magic bean” alone is not reason enough, then we love legumes for their excellent source of quality plant-based protein! Not all protein sources are equal, and therefore, cause us to question which source (animal or plant) provides our bodies with proper energy.
Nutritional research have shown that all – yes, ALL – plants contain protein. Legumes provide approximately nine or more grams of protein per cup and are highly digestible. Broccoli contains more protein per calorie than steak and spinach contains equal amounts of protein as its animal-based counterpart, chicken and fish. Not all plants supply the 20 essential amino acids needed to make a complete protein, so, chose a wide variety of sources to meet your nutritional needs. Quinoa, however, is a complete protein (contains all 20 amino acids) and consuming one cup of this ancient grain provides 9 grams of protein, which is one gram more than a medium chicken egg.
Beans and legumes are easy to prepare in meals and can be purchased fresh, frozen or canned. In our menu this week we added legumes to our chili, fish tacos and even our evening snack of black bean brownies!
The Week’s Menu Favorites, voted by our guests:
Favorite Meal: Turkey Bean Chili and Corn Bread
Runner up: Mango and Blueberry Quinoa
Favorite Snack: Black Bean Brownie
Runner up: Greek Yogurt and Raspberry Jam
Written by Sonya Luisi, M.S. Dietetics & Nutrition