Young women's version of this guide

collection of beansFoods such as beans and lentils are known as legumes. Legumes are good sources of protein and fiber, and are used in many different cuisines. In the US, you can find fresh, canned, frozen, or dried versions of many legumes.

What are some common legumes?

Black beans are medium-sized, oval beans with black skin. They have a slightly sweet flavor and are often used in soups, or served with rice. They are included in many Mexican and Latin American dishes and can be used in soups, stews, and rice dishes.

Black-eyed peas are medium-sized, oval beans that are cream colored with a black dot. They have a sharp flavor and smooth texture. They are usually served with rice or eaten as a side dish.

Garbanzo beans, also called chickpeas, are medium-sized, round beans that are beige in color. They have a nutty flavor and firm texture. Garbanzo beans are used in soups, salads, Indian dishes, and popular Middle Eastern and Mediterranean dishes such as hummus and falafel.

Kidney beans, also called Mexican red beans, are large and kidney-shaped with a strong flavor and soft texture. Kidney beans are used in soups, salads, chili, Creole dishes, and traditional rice and beans.

Lentils are circular-shaped seeds. There are two common types of lentils. One type of lentil is small and brown and the other is larger and yellow. Lentils are often used in Indian dishes, side dishes, soups, and stews.

Lima beans are flat, green or cream in color, with a starchy, potato-like taste. They can be used in casseroles, soups, and salads.

Navy beans are small, white, oval beans with a mild flavor and powdery texture. They are often used to make soups, and stews.

Pinto beans are medium-sized, oval beans with a spotty beige and brown color. They turn completely brown when cooked and are used to make refried beans and other Mexican bean dishes.

Nutrition Facts for Legumes:

½ Cup ServingProteinCalciumIronFiber
Black beans8 grams23 mg2 mg8 grams
Black-eyed peas7 grams21 mg2 mg6 grams
Garbanzo beans (chick peas)7 grams40 mg2 mg6 grams
Kidney beans8 grams31 mg2 mg6 grams
Lentils9 grams19 mg3 mg8 grams
Lima Beans7 grams16 mg2 mg7 grams
Navy beans8 grams63 mg2 mg10 grams
Pinto beans8 grams39 mg2 mg8 grams

Follow these directions to prepare and eat legumes:

  • To cook dry legumes (that you purchase in bulk bags), you must first rehydrate or soak them. Add 1 cup of dry beans and add 5 cups of water to a covered bowl and soak overnight. For faster preparation, add 1 cup of dry beans to 5 cups of hot water and heat to a boil. Boil for 2-3 minutes and then remove from heat. Let the beans sit covered for at least 1 hour. The longer they’re soaked, the less gas they’ll produce when you eat them. After your beans have been soaked, they can be boiled. Drain the water you used for soaking and add fresh water. Bring beans to a boil and simmer until they become tender; this will take about 45 minutes. Drain water before serving.
  • Canned beans are already cooked. Just drain and rinse them before serving. You can also heat them up for about a minute in a pan with water or tomato sauce.
  • Try topping your salads with canned or cooked beans to add protein.
  • Hummus, made from garbanzo beans, is great on sandwiches or wraps and makes an excellent dip for veggies.
  • Make your own dip by mixing beans, salsa, and cheese in a dish. Microwave the mixture until the cheese is melted.

Here are three easy legume recipes to try:



Bean Salad


Beans and Rice