5 Reasons to Love Legumes

With the cold weather hitting us, it's the ideal time to tweak your diet. Here we show you why legumes are the winter diet hero.

New research reveals that Australians aren't eating nearly enough legumes and two thirds (65 per cent) of Australians simply don't think of including legumes in their diet. The truth is, legumes are the winter diet hero.

Here, Grains & Legumes and Nutrition Council (GLNC) share 5 reasons why you should fall in love with legumes:

1. Beans are key to heart health

Eating legumes twice a week reduces risk of death from heart disease.

2. Feel good on the inside

Legumes are abundant in fibre, which is essential for gut health. 

3. Enjoy immediate benefits

Legumes can contain protein for muscle maintenance and iron for a healthy immune system.

4. Avoid extra winter kilos

Eating legumes helps you feel fuller for longer as they contain soluble fibre, protein and are low GI, all of which may help promote satiety. They are the perfect ingredient to add to your favourite winter dishes to boost nutrition, help avoid excess weight gain and give you a spring in your step.

5. Stop worrying about wind

Eating legumes more regularly tends to decrease flatulence. Thoroughly rinsing canned legumes and soaking dried legumes before use will also decrease digestive issues.

Four trendy legumes for the winter menu

Here are four trending legumes that are making a comeback with tips on how they can be used in the kitchen.

1. Chickpeas

Chickpeas contain essential minerals such as iron, zinc and calcium, which help support immunity and strong bones and teeth. Chickpeas are easily added to salads, soups and casseroles or can be roasted for a Crispy Chickpea Snack. They go particularly well with Middle Eastern cuisine or a Moroccan Chickpea Basmati Rice Pilaf recipe.

2. Red Lentils

Red lentils have a low glycemic index, meaning they are absorbed slower so they can help you feel fuller for longer. Unlike other legumes, red lentils don’t need to be soaked prior to cooking. This makes them easy to use for soups and curries and make a great Spaghetti Bolognaise with Red Lentils recipe. They’re also the perfect addition to any homemade soup; why not try a Moroccan Red Lentil and Chickpea Soup recipe.

3. Red Kidney Beans

Red Kidney Beans are packed with essential fibre, providing over 20 per cent of the daily recommended fibre intake for young children (up to 13 years). Fibre is essential for maintaining digestive health and it’s so easy to boost your intake by adding kidney beans to your favourite dishes. These beans are ideal to add to a Minestrone Soup.

4. Navy Beans

Like many other legumes, Navy Beans (or Baked Beans) contain virtually no fat and are rich in fibre, B vitamins and protein. More people eat baked beans than any other legume, with 10 per cent of Aussies including them in their diet. Although this bean is well known to be accompanied with toast, there are many other ways to experiment with this kitchen staple such as using them in a Mediterranean Bean Pizza recipe.

Spaghetti Bolognese with Red Lentils

Serves: 4

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 40 minutes


1 tablespoon olive oil

300g lean beef mince

1 onion, chopped

1 carrot, chopped

2 stalks celery, chopped

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 cup dried red lentils, washed and drained

700ml tomato passata (tomato purée)

1 teaspoon dried oregano

500ml salt-reduced chicken or beef stock

2 cups shredded spinach or silverbeet

1 tablespoon lemon juice

200g spaghetti

Finely grated parmesan cheese and green salad, to serve


Heat oil in a large heavy based saucepan over medium-high heat and brown mince. Add onion, carrot, and celery and cook for 5 minutes or until starting to soften.

Add garlic, lentils, passata, oregano and stock. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until flavour has developed and sauce has thickened. Add spinach, lemon juice and freshly cracked pepper.

Bring a large covered saucepan of water to the boil, add spaghetti, stir once and cook uncovered for the amount of time specified on the pack. Drain pasta.

To serve, divide spaghetti between serving bowls, ladle sauce onto spaghetti, top with grated parmesan and serve a green salad on the side.

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