15 Different Types Of Legumes With Images

Legumes are the plant’s seeds that are consumed in their immature form as beans and green peas. While dried peas, lentils, beans, and chickpeas are the mature form of legumes, also known as pulse

Legumes, which belong to the Fabaceae family, are primarily grown for human consumption, soil-enhancing green manure, and for livestock forage; which are also referred to as grain legumes. They include all types of peas and beans from the Fabaceae (or Leguminosae) botanical family.

Various types of legumes contain nutrients, and have unique uses. These legumes can either be dried or canned legumes. To cook dried legumes, you start from soaking, draining, rinsing, and boiling until softened. While canned legumes don’t need to be soaked as they’ve already undergone the process. Same goes with fresh legumes or fresh peas. They no longer need soak time.

In this post, we will identify the different types of legumes, specifically the edible ones that we often used in preparing savory dishes. 


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LEGUMES NUTRITIONAL VALUE

Legumes are known to be the best source of dietary fiber, carbohydrates, protein, and dietary minerals. Most beans also contain iron, B-vitamins, folate zinc, calcium, phosphorus, and potassium. 

Additionally, legumes have no saturated fat, and have less iron content.

Eating legumes can help lower the risk of heart disease, prevent diabetes, weight control, and reduce sugar in the blood. 

DIFFERENT TYPES OF LEGUMES

There are about 16 thousand types of legumes grown around the globe. They come in different shapes, sizes, colors, and textures. 

Here are some of the common and healthy legumes you may add to your diet.

CHICKPEAS (GARBANZO BEANS)

DESCRIPTION

Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, are a type of legume with a round shape, and can be beige, speckled, dark brown or black in color. This type of legume has a rich nutty flavor.

Other varieties of chickpeas are known as Egyptian pea, and gram or Bengal gram.

The garbanzo beans are a main ingredient in most Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisines, as well as in Indian cuisines. 

They are usually used in soups and stews, curry, salads, and in chana masala. Cooked chickpeas are also eaten with meat, white rice, or pasta in Portugal.

India has the highest chickpea production in 2020, followed by Turkey, Myanmar, and Pakistan.

NUTRITION INFORMATION

Chickpeas or garbanzo beans are a great source of protein. They contain the nine important amino acids that help bodies to function properly. Additionally, these beans are high in fiber, cholesterol free, with a very low sodium content.

Chickpeas also promote weight control, prevent constipation, help boost cardiovascular health, and promote blood sugar control.

2. LENTILS LEGUMES (Lens Culinaris)

DESCRIPTION

Lentil is an edible legume known for its lens-shaped seeds. This type of legume is staple in the Indian subcontinent cuisines. It has a mild, earthy flavor. Other lentil varieties possess flavor that ranges from sweet to nutty, and peppery to hot flavor.

They are often prepared into a thick gravy or curry and are best eaten with rotis or rice. These tasty and nutritious beans are perfect to add protein to salads and various side dishes.

In 2020, Canada has the highest lentil production, followed by India. 

NUTRITION INFORMATION

It is rich in B vitamins, magnesium, potassium, iron, and zinc. It is also an excellent source of plant-based protein, folate, and fiber. Eating lentils can help maintain a steady heartbeat, manage blood pressure and cholesterol, and control heart health.

3. RED LENTILS

DESCRIPTION

Red lentils are tiny, reddish-orange edible seeds that can be cooked quickly. These legumes have a sweet and distinct flavor. And unlike other lentil varieties, red lentils are easiest and quickest to prepare. These beans are a perfect ingredient in making traditional Indian stews (dhal), curries, and other thick buttery soups. 

Red lentils are definitely perfect to be added to your vegetarian or vegan diet.

NUTRITION INFORMATION

Aside from being the key ingredient in providing your dish a creamy texture, red lentils possess tons of nutrients and health benefits our body need. This legume is high in protein, fiber, B-vitamins, and iron.

Eating red lentils while pregnant guarantees a healthy brain development of the baby as it is rich in vitamin B9 that contains folic acids. It also helps boost energy level, and promotes weight control.

4. SOYBEANS (Glycine Max)

DESCRIPTION

Soybean, also spelled as soy bean, or soya bean, is a legume species native to East Asia. The soybean plants are commonly grown for its edible seeds that are used in making both unfermented and fermented soy foods. 

It is known to be the most important bean globally which provides vegetable protein, and various ingredients in manufacturing chemical products. 

The soybean grain has a beany or grassy flavor due to the result of the enzyme’s action known as lipoxygenase. Its shape also varies depending on its type, which ranges from almost spherical to flat and elongated. The soybean hulls can be yellow, brown, black, or green in color.

NUTRITION INFORMATION

Soybean is high in fiber, protein, and phytoestrogens. It is also a source of antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids. 

Eating soybeans and soy foods may help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease, stroke, and cancer. Additionally, it promotes bone health and other health benefits.

5. PINTO BEANS

DESCRIPTION

The pinto bean is a common bean usually called frijoles pintos in Spanish, which means painted bean. In South America, it is called poroto frutilla, which means strawberry bean, and feijão carioca in Portuguese, which literally means carioca bean

Pinto beans are often eaten whole, mashed, and refried. These beans are a usual filler for tostadas, tacos, and burritos. Aside from Mexican cuisine, pinto beans are also found in most Brazilian recipes. 

NUTRITION INFORMATION

Pinto beans are a nutrient-dense legume that contain essential nutrients like protein, manganese, and phosphorus. They are also a good source of folate and dietary fiber.

Eating cooked dishes with pinto beans will help improve sugar control in the blood, and heart health. It can also lower the risk of chronic disease as pinto beans are an excellent source of various antioxidants.

6. GREAT NORTHERN BEANS

DESCRIPTION

Great northern beans, also called large white beans, are beans with flattened shape with a delicate flavor. Compared to navy beans, great northern beans are larger in size but smaller than cannellini beans. They have a nutty, mild flavor and firm flesh.

These beans, which have a uniform cream color, are very popular in North America. 

They are ideal ingredients for stews, soups, and casseroles. They can also be prepared as a savory side dish

NUTRITION INFORMATION

These beans are a good source of B vitamins. Health benefits of eating great northern beans include lowering cholesterol levels, reducing the risk of heart diseases, diabetes, and other metabolic disorders.

So if you are into healthy eating, add this legume in your diet.

7. NAVY BEANS

DESCRIPTION

The navy bean, also known as haricot, pearl haricot bean, Boston bean, white pea bean, and pea bean, is a dry white bean native to America. It has a smaller size compared to most types of white beans, with an oval and slightly flattened shape. 

Navy beans are perfect to be added in dishes like baked beans, soups, or pies. And similar to other beans, Navy beans should not be eaten fresh. Doing so may cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

NUTRITION INFORMATION

When eating navy beans, your body absorbs nutrients like B vitamins, copper, manganese, folate, magnesium, iron and phosphorus. These nutrients can help improve memory and cognition, prevent the risk of cancer and diabetes, improve heart health, promote better blood circulation, and improve digestion. 

8. BLACK-EYED PEAS (Vigna Unguiculata)

DESCRIPTION

The black-eyed peas, also called black-eyed beans, are medium-sized legumes, and are edible beans. These beans are part of the family of beans and peas (Leguminosae or Fabaceae in the USA), and are a variety of the cowpea.

In Egypt, it is called lobia. It is usually cooked with onions, garlic, and tomato juice. 

In Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan, these beans are called lobya, and are cooked with garlic, onion, tomatoes, olive oil or other cooking oil, black pepper, and salt.

Black-eyed peas can be used in recipes such as salads, soups, and side dishes. For faster cooking, soak dried beans in the water for at least an hour or cook them in a pressure cooker.

NUTRITION INFORMATION

Black-eyed peas are an excellent source of calcium, protein, folate, vitamin A, and other nutrients. These beans can help support digestive health, help weight loss, promote heart health, and avoid headaches and fatigue.

9. KIDNEY BEANS (Phaseolus vulgaris)

DESCRIPTION

The kidney bean is a common bean that resembles a human kidney. These beans have a firm and meaty texture, with a thicker and less smooth skin. When it comes to flavor, kidney beans are mildly sweet.

Kidney beans are classified into different types such as red kidney beans, light speckled kidney beans, red speckled kidney bean, and white kidney beans.

NUTRITION INFORMATION

If you are looking for an excellent plant-based source of protein, add these common legumes in your legumes list. 

This legume is rich in different vitamins, minerals, fibers, and antioxidants. Adding kidney beans in your nutritious diet can help promote colon health, moderate levels of sugar in the blood, and help weight loss. 

10. LIMA BEANS (Phaseolus Lunatus)

DESCRIPTION

The Lima beans, also known as the butter beans, double beans, Madagascar beans, chad beans, wax beans, or sieva beans, are common legumes grown for its edible beans. This bean can be found in Meso and in South America and is a domesticated species of cultural and economic importance in different countries, most especially in Mexico. The Lima bean has two varieties, the silvester (wild variety) and lunatus (the domesticated variety).

Fresh beans have a unique color that ranges from beige to green.

Lima beans are usually cooked until its smooth and creamy texture. When properly cooked, lima beans are nutty and sweet, but may become bitter and sulfurous when overcooked.

NUTRITION INFORMATION

Not only it is delicious and versatile, lima beans are also an excellent source of iron, manganese, potassium, magnesium, and vitamin C. These nutrients are linked to various potential health benefits such as healthy weight loss, improved heart health, and enhanced blood sugar control. 

11. GREEN PEAS

DESCRIPTION

The green peas, garden peas, or green beans, are a popular and nutritious vegetable. These beans are small in size and spherical in shape which come from pods produced by a plant called Pisum sativum.

Though most of us refer to green peas as vegetables, they are not as they are part of the legume family.

But since green peas contain starch, they are considered as a starchy vegetable like corn, squash, and potatoes. 

NUTRITION INFORMATION

Green peas are an excellent source of protein and several vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. Adding these beans to your diet can help prevent high blood pressure, heart disease, and promote heart health. However, since green peas are starchy, eating peas in moderation is highly recommended. Too much consumption of starchy foods can lead to higher hunger levels, increased blood sugar levels, and weight gain.

12. BLACK BEANS (Phaseolus Vulgaris)

DESCRIPTION

Black beans, also known as the black turtle beans, are a small, shiny variety of the common bean popular in Latin American cuisine. Similar to other beans, black beans are native to America and have been introduced to other countries around the world

This oval-shaped dried bean has a soft, creamy, and mild flavor. Thus, a good ingredient in various dishes as it doesn’t have an overwhelming taste. When added to your dishes, black beans take its flavor from salt and other ingredients of the dish. 

NUTRITION INFORMATION

Black beans contain antioxidants, fiber, protein, and carbohydrates. Its health benefits include maintaining healthy bones, preventing the risk of heart disease, managing diabetes, and lowering blood pressure.

13. PEANUTS (Arachis Hypogaea)

DESCRIPTION

The peanut, also called the groundnut, goober, pindar, or monkey nut, is a type of legume grown for its edible seeds. Unlike other legume crop plants, peanut pods are not developed above the ground, but rather underground. Thus, it is labeled as hypogaea, which means under the earth. Depending on its varieties, peanuts can be spheroidal, shortbroad, elongated-slender, cylindrical-tapered end, or cylindrical-blunt ended in shape.

Peanuts when eaten raw are bland in flavor, They taste more like peas than nuts.  

NUTRITION INFORMATION

Peanuts are a good source of protein, fiber, and fat. These beans also possess potassium, phosphorus, and magnesium. Eating peanuts can help lose weight, reduce the risk of gallstones, and help prevent heart disease.

14. SPLIT PEAS

DESCRIPTION

Split peas are technically an agricultural or culinary preparation made up of the dried, peeled and split seeds of pea (Pisum sativum). They can be green peas or yellow peas. When harvested, the peas have an outer skin and are spherical. They are then dried to remove the outer skin that turns dull color. After which, the peas are split in half, either using a machine or by hand. 

Split peas can be green or yellow varieties, and they taste like sweet green peas. Its flavor is sweet and with a creamy texture.

NUTRITION INFORMATION

Similar to the other beans included in this legumes list, split peas contain various minerals essential to our bodies. Split peas are excellent in protein, a good source of dietary fiber, and complex carbohydrates. These peas or beans are also low in fat.

Adding split peas to your diet can prevent chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, inflammation, cancer, osteoporosis, and high blood pressure.

15. SPLIT CHICKPEAS

DESCRIPTION

Similar to split peas, split chickpeas are made up of chickpea peas, peeled and splitted. In fact, it resembles the split yellow pea.

Split chickpeas or split desi-chickpeas are commonly used in making chal dal in soup or curry form. 

NUTRITION INFORMATION

Just like the whole chickpeas, split peas are high in dietary fiber which is good for digestion. They also contain magnesium, calcium, and other nutrients essential for the bones. Eating split chickpeas also promotes mental health.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

WHAT ARE THE FOODS CONSIDERED AS LEGUMES?

Various legumes are labeled as peas. These include green peas, snow peas, snap peas, split peas, lentils, peanuts, and black-eyed peas.

ARE BEANS LEGUMES?

All beans are legumes, but not all legumes are beans. Technically, legumes are the class of plant, and the seeds collected from these plants are called beans.

WHAT ARE THE HEALTHIEST BEANS AND LEGUMES THAT SHOULD BE INCLUDED TO OUR DIET?

All the beans and legumes actually possess various nutrients good for our body. But the beans and legumes that are good for our health and should be added to our diet are  chickpeas, brown lentils, green lentils, kidney beans, black beans, peas, soybeans, navy beans, string beans, and pinto beans.

WHAT ARE THE MOST COMMON BEANS?

The most common beans include adzuki beans, soybeans, fava beans, chickpeas, Anasazi beans, lima beans, kidney beans, and black beans.