Legumes are plants that have pods with their seeds inside, such as the various types of beans and peas. Soybeans, fava beans, peas and peanuts are all legumes. Legumes offer a number of health benefits to individuals who include them in their diet.
According to the Mayo Clinic's Nutrition and Healthy Eating section, legumes are low in fat, and high in potassium, iron and magnesium. They can be a good meat substitute. Beans are high in healthy fats and proteins, which makes them a good addition to any diet regimen. Good beans include black beans, chickpeas or garbanzo beans, edamame, lima beans and soy nuts.
The garden pea many people think of is native to the Near East, according to the University of Maryland. Peas are rich in proteins and contain healthy carbohydrates. The pea is eaten, and the immature pea pod can also be consumed as snap peas or snow peas. Peas are a good source of nutrition for people and are often fed to livestock as well.
Forage legumes, according to the University of Maryland, often are planted to prevent erosion, create hay and feed livestock animals, like cows and pigs. These types of legumes are sometimes regarded as weeds, despite their useful nature. Alfalfa, vetch and clovers all are considered to be forage legumes.
References and ResourcesMayo Clinic: Beans and Other Legumes--Types and Cooking Tips
Maryland University: Legumes and Starchy Staples