The legume family includes beans, lentils, peas, and even peanuts. They’re highly valued for their nutritional benefits all over the world and, in fact, research has identified them as the food group most highly correlated with human longevity.

Significant sources of dietary protein, legumes are high in fiber and resistant starch. They contain dozens of antioxidants, phytochemicals, and flavonoids, and are an excellent source of essential minerals such as iron, calcium, zinc, and magnesium.

Legumes can extend your life through a variety of mechanisms. They protect against cancer, cognitive decline in the elderly, and heart disease. They also support healthy weight management, healthy digestion, and blood sugar regulation, all of which can help prevent type 2 diabetes.

In case I need to say it, dried legumes must be soaked and cooked or soaked, sprouted, and cooked before you eat them (except for lentils, which can skip the soaking step). Cooked legumes go well in soups and stews, casseroles, and salads. You can add them to pasta dishes and grain bowls, or blend them into dips and sauces (I’m looking at you, hummus). You can even use them in desserts like black bean brownies (seriously, it’s a thing!).

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