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Beans, pulses and legumes important for nutrition

New Delhi, Thu, 05 Apr 2012 NI Wire

According to a panel of experts now beans, pulses and legumes can be classified as either vegetables or proteins under the new United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) dietary guidelines thus giving them an important role in the daily life of a person.

The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans issued by USDA, highlights the messages behind the MyPlate food icon and recommends that half a person's plate should be vegetables and fruit and the other being half grains and protein. In addition to that, a serving of dairy should be included with the meal.

In the guidelines, beans, pulses and legumes are permitted to go on either side of the plate, although not both, at each meal. This does not include green beans, which are grouped with other vegetables.

'Beans, pulses and legumes are a rich source of protein, fibre and nutrients such as potassium and folate', said Joanne Slavin, PhD., RD, professor at the University of Minnesota and a member of the committee who wrote the guidelines.

However, most of the Americans lack them in their diets, and even they eat beans, the most common form is refried.

"It's an exciting time, with the huge emphasis on plant products as a healthier way to eat," Slavin said.

"There are lots of opportunities to increase consumption." He added.

Brian Larson, Ph.D., vice president of research and development for JG Consulting Services, LLC, put the example of how specialty grain legumes, such as sweet white lupin, pigeon peas and heirloom/heritage beans, are beneficial in adding nutritional value to bakery products and frozen waffles and pancakes, as well as an excellent substitute to meat, a soup thickening and fortification agent and also act as an excellent potato substitute or side dish in frozen entrees.

These specialty grains add protein, resistant carbohydrates and healthy fibre to our diet without adding any gluten to it, he said.

-With inputs from ANI.

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