A legumeis a plant that bears seed pods that split along two opposite sides when ripe. Legumes include beans, peas, lentils, and a number of other plants. In culinary usage, we use the word to refer to the seeds from these pods, especially when they are mature and dried. (Do not confuse the English meaning of legume with that of the French word legume,which means "vegetable.")
Dried beans and peas have been used as food for thousands of years, and they continue to be important foods today. In fact, with today's increased interest in healthful eating and in vegetables of all sorts, as well as a greater knowledge of cuisines from around the world, many more interesting varieties of beans are widely available now than only a few years ago.
Legumes are high in protein and, thus, are important in vegetarian diets.They are rich in B vitamins and minerals. Some legumes,like the soybean, are also rich in fat.
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