Legumes, allies for health care
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For millennia, legumes, along with cereals and some tropical fruits and roots, have been the main basis of human nutrition. The coordinator of the degree in Human Nutrition Science at the UNAM Faculty of Medicine (FM), Elvira Sandoval Bosch, commented that in Mexico the most consumed are lentils, broad beans, chickpeas and beans.
Although the latter is a favorite food of Mexicans, it is stigmatized and its consumption is relegated, because it is related to poverty.
In an interview, the clinical nutritionist highlighted that they are excellent allies for health care due to their high nutritional and protein contribution of plant origin, especially when combined with the group of cereals, since it is a protein similar to that of plant origin. animal, but without saturated fat, and can replace the consumption of red meat.
"We see it in plant-based eating, vegetarian people also use them as an option and it can be an excellent strategy not only for people's health, but also for the planet, since we would stop consuming so much red meat."
For example, “bean tacos, obviously without fat or with minimal fat, are an option for our diet, because in addition to not containing saturated fat, they are nutritious, provide fiber and iron that contribute to maintaining our health,” he added.
It is also convenient to include peanuts, pistachios, walnuts and almonds, although they should not be consumed indiscriminately because they provide fat, the good kind, but they contain quite a bit.
Due to the nutrients in legumes, it is important that they are part of our daily diet, whether at breakfast, lunch or dinner, and alternate them throughout the week. Due to the type of fiber they have, they help reduce blood glucose and cholesterol; They keep the intestinal biota in good condition. The important thing is that any change in our diet is accompanied by the advice of nutritionists.
It is worth mentioning that the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations points out the reasons why they should be consumed: they are low in sodium and fat and, due to their plant origin, they do not contain cholesterol – which helps reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases-; They are an extraordinary source of proteins of plant origin, and of iron, as well as folate (vitamin B present in several foods); rich in potassium and fiber; Their glycemic index is low and they are gluten-free in their natural state, and they can be stored for a long time.
Figures from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development indicate that in 2020 the annual production of the main legumes in Mexico was, for beans, more than one million tons; The states that cultivate it the most are: Zacatecas, Sinaloa and Nayarit. A figure of more than 37 tons of beans was reached in the same period, in entities such as Puebla, Veracruz and Tlaxcala; while for chickpeas, more than 125 thousand tons in Sinaloa, Sonora and Michoacán.
Lentils exceeded 10 thousand tons in Michoacán, Guanajuato and San Luis Potosí. It is important to mention that these foods are also harvested to obtain dry seed.
Although beans are an ideal source of protein, they are grown in almost the entire country and their demand is universal, in Mexico their annual consumption per capita It is nine kilograms.
In general, legumes are important for food security, especially for populations in Latin America, Africa and Asia, where they are part of traditional diets and are often grown by small farmers and family farmers.
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