Beans, Nuts and Seeds
Grains, beans, nuts and seeds are all seeds. Rich in complex carbohydrates and fiber, they form the base of most healthy food pyramids. Beans are the seeds of legumes. Examples include: peas, lentils, soybeans, and chickpeas.
Nuts are the seeds of trees.
Examples include: walnuts, hazelnuts, and pecans.
And seeds are … well … seeds.
Examples include sesame seeds, poppy seeds, and sunflower seeds.
Cut any of these things in half and you’ll find the same basic structure inside.
This is why there is so much confusion about peanuts, cashews, and almonds, which some people struggle to categorize. Is a peanut a nut or a legume? Is quinoa a grain or a seed? Don’t worry-it does not matter-they are all seeds. End of story.
A seed is precious to the plant, since it houses the plant’s embryo – the baby plant – and plants have developed very powerful methods to protect it.
Seeds are designed to survive for a very long time in harsh environments, because they have to sit around and wait for what may be a very long time for conditions to be just right to take root and sprout. They need to be able to resist cold, heat, insects, worms, bacteria, fungi, and seed-eating animals. In order to protect themselves from all of these dangers, seeds contain a variety of very smart chemicals, many of which have the potential to disrupt the health of unsuspecting humans.
You need to consume a variety of plant foods to obtain all the amino acids necessary for your body to form complete proteins. Legumes are as staple food all over the world and are one of the best sources of soluble fiber. Plus, they are low in fat and high in good quality protein.
The soluble fiber in beans helps lower levels of damaging LDL cholesterol in the blood, thus lowering heart-disease risk. Any by slowing down carbohydrate absorption, soluble bean fiber fends off unwanted peaks and valleys in blood glucose levels – especially valuable to people with diabetes.
Beans also provide substantial insoluble fiber, which can keep constipation and other digestive woes away.
Legumes are also rich in folic acid, copper, iron, and magnesium – four nutrients many of us could use more of in our diets.