You’ve been given the introduction with the “Foodie Guide to the Types of Nuts”, now it’s time for the 20 types of legumes. Here you’ll find everything you’ll need to know from taste to origin about some snacking favourites like the peanut and the lentil. Yep, you read that right; the peanut is a legume (and an oilseed) that is family to the lentil rather than a nut!
Of course, being the fun-fact finding team here at The Hobby Kraze, we feel it’s our job to keep you in-the-know about seemingly weird and wonderful knowledge nuggets like these. That way you can turn up to family game night for a round of Trivia and the ability to say “well, actually…”.
Aside from that, legumes are incredibly tasty and deliciously healthy to have in your diet. Whether it’s snacked-on before dinner, mixed into a hearty salad or even pulsed and marinated for a family BBQ. So, we couldn’t really miss the opportunity to let you discover all the different types and which ones your tastebuds could be missing out on.
Here’s what we’ll be covering in this ultimate guide to the 20 types of legumes you can find growing under our planet’s rich soil:
- What are Legumes?
- What is the Ultimate Legume Origin and History?
- What are the Health Benefits of Legumes and the Healthy Legumes You Can Eat?
- What are the 20 Types of legumes You can Find?
Before we continue, there’s something we need to clear up. While this is the ultimate list of the types of legumes you can find growing in our planet’s rich soil, it’s actually about the popular legume pulses.
That’s right, all the legumes we all often refer to like the peanut, lentil and chickpea, are actually pulses. However, they’re the pulses of legume plants. When we say the types of legumes, we actually mean the popular legume pulses that can be grown, picked, eaten and enjoyed!
Anyhow, back to the basics:
What are Legumes?
The types of legumes are soil-growing plants part of the Fabaceae botanical family. The parts we often refer to as legumes such as the lentils and the peanuts are actually the legume’s oilseeds.
The legume origin features the growth of a simple and dried fruit. This dried fruit develops from something called a carpel, enacting as a hull that opens along a simple seam to reveal the popular legume pulses we all know and love.
Most legumes grow under the soil layer like the peanut, but there are also many others that actually grow as part of the bloom on the stem of the plant such as green beans. But we’ll go a little more in detail for each of the 20 types of legumes in this article (so don’t stop scrolling if you want to know how and where to hand-pick your favourite dish compliments!).
As well as this, legumes have a nursery rhyme with little more truth behind them than we’d care to admit. If you remember the whole “beans, beans, they’re good for your heart; but the more you eat them, the more you fart” rhyme, then you’re in for a treat because it’s actually true.
The classification of legumes and oilseeds, on a rather surface level, involves complex sugars. When they’re eaten, our bodies react with these sugars (which are natural and healthy) to produce gas. I.e., with a good handful of healthy legumes you can eat, you’ll experience a bit of unwanted flatulence.
Anyhow, for the rest of this article about the types of legumes, we’ll just keep on calling the seeds legumes. We might as well keep things simple and forget about the classification of legumes and oilseeds for the moment.
That said, if you’re wanting to be able to identify some good and fresh types of legumes for your salad, then look out for bright colours as well as smooth and unbroken seed coats!
What is the Ultimate Legume Origin and History?
The legume origin begins over 59 million years ago. We know this because scientists have been finding fossils with the biological framework of legume plant structures all around the world.
With it being such an age-old and robust plant, there’s no surprise they’ve evolved and matured to be able to cultivate on every single continent (apart from Antarctica) and in nearly all conditions. From the frozen caps of the Alps to the dry deserts of the Sahara.
However, the true legume origin isn’t actually confirmed; it’s believed to be Africa (at least the areas we know to be Africa, today).
Since these botanicals with their undefined origin have taken root in the Earth, the various types of legume have been a key part to enriching soil and allowing for the growth of other plants and ecosystems.
This is because legume roots have a very unique way of gathering nitrogen from the soil and atmosphere and turning it into the proteins we get when we eat the legume seeds. Then, when the plant dies, the nitrogen is returned to the soil for other plants to thrive off.
And, it turns out, that us humans had an inclination of these nutritional benefits thousands of years ago, too. Evidence shows that popular legume pulses like lentils and beans were used throughout Africa and the Middle East over 10,000 years ago. Plus, this evidence shows soaking, sprouting, fermenting and cooking. Meaning our ancient noggins were aware of the healthy legumes you can eat even before then.
What are the Health Benefits of Legumes and the Healthy Legumes You Can Eat?
So, as many of us know, the food we eat directly affects our health, lifestyle and longevity. Making it one of the few things in life we really need to get right.
Sadly, lack of being in-the-know leads so many of us to push the healthy legumes you can eat aside while overlooking their potential for more starchy foods such as rice, pasta and potatoes. These foods are great for satiation, but don’t really deliver on the things our bodies truly need!
The classification of legumes and oilseeds is considered to be a complex carbohydrate. Meaning, when eaten, these popular legume pulses can make you feel full and release energy for the brain and body slowly over time. However, they are so much more than that. The various types of legumes are all jam-packed with good stuff and crammed-full of nutrients; legumes just keep on giving.
If you’re looking to change your diet to a meat and dairy-free variation, or just trying to eat a little healthier, there’s really no need to look further than the good variety of the types of legumes.
Providing a bucket-load of antioxidants alongside protein and calcium (not to mention fibre, iron, potassium B-complex vitamins and other minerals), the healthy legumes you can eat should be a key part of your diet if they’re not already. With a cooking time similar to rice and pasta options, these popular legume pulses have yet another trick up their sleeve: they are gluten-free too.
With all these things in mind, here are some of the serious health benefits from having these healthy legumes you can eat incorporated into your diet:
- They are highly satiating
- They help you feel full for longer periods
- They’re good for weight loss
- Their high concentrations of fibre and protein make them great for your gut
- The calcium levels help maintain strong bones
- They’re super easy to prepare and cook (and eat)
- They can pair well with nearly all other healthy foods for a balanced diet
- The healthy legumes you can eat store well for long periods
- The high potassium mineral count helps lower blood sugar
- They are great for reducing the effects and risk of diabetes
- Their nutrients help lower blood pressure and cholesterol
- They reduce the risk of heart disease
- They’re great for active bodies in training
They’re easy, they’re affordable, they’re accessible and they have a low carbon footprint. It might seem like we’re tooting the horn of the healthy legumes you can eat a little too much here, but at The Hobby Kraze, we like to keep you healthy so you can keep on moving in your hobby adventures!
What are the 20 Types of legumes You can Find?
It turns out that, since being around for over 59 million years and finding ways to cultivate across the planet for a pretty broad legume origin story, there are more than many types of legumes out there.
In fact, scientists believe that there are over 20,000 types of legumes out there to try your tastebuds at. However, at The Hobby Kraze, we’ve picked our 20 favourite healthy legumes you can eat. These are some of the most popular legume pulses as well as some tasty choices you probably never even thought to sprinkle into your lunchtime salad.
First on the menu is the Bambara Groundnut. Native to West Africa, these Peanut look-alikes also go by the names of the Congo Goober and the Earth Pea. And, just like most of the popular legume pulses, the Bambara Groundnut is a ground-growing nut loving the warm and sandy soils. Most commonly seen throughout mealtimes in Nigeria, these types of legumes are a sustainable and low-cost source of nutrients. With this, they’re often used within Nigerian puddings in both their raw and boiled forms.
Sometimes, you have to stick with what you know. And we know Black Beans (also known as Black Turtle Beans) have a texture that is satisfying to eat even for the pickiest of eaters. Although they may not look the most appealing, these incredibly healthy legumes you can eat are soft with a mild but sweet flavour. These types of legumes also happen to be low in sugar and fat with a track record of providing vital nutrients that can help reduce the risk of serious health issues such as heart disease and cancer.
Cannellini Beans are a very popular choice in places such as Italy where they’re often referred to as White Italian Kidney Beans. They’re used within well-known and hearty soup dishes such as a vegetarian kale and minestrone. However, interestingly, they’re cultivated throughout Argentina and carried back to Europe. The classification of legumes for the Cannellini Beans are that they feature a white coating, a creamy centre and a rich earthy flavour. They are also on the larger side with the shape resembling both a pill and kidney.
Chickpeas are part of an annual tree growth meaning it will only bloom once before dying out. Yet, this doesn’t stop them from packing a punch in their small, round and yellow bodies. The Chickpea types of legumes are famously rich in B-complex vitamins as well as Vitamin E and Vitamin D which all help to maintain heart function and better the release of energy in the body. Grown from America to India, these popular legume pulses are the base for many well-known dishes; they bring the tough texture and earthy taste to hummus!
If you’ve ever had a hearty Sunday roast, you’ve probably had your fair share of the iconic garden pea. Always thrown onto our plates with disgust as we were younger, we love them mushed on the side of our fish and chips take-out now. They’re a well-known source of iron, making them a key ingredient to blood health and energy levels, too. They cultivate in pods of eight to nine along long tendrils in any soils with low temperatures. Hence their popularity in the great British garden!
Green Beans – also known as Snaps, French Beans and String Beans – are actually types of legumes that are unripe. They are the baby version of the Scarlet Runner Bean (which we’ll get to later) while being antioxidant-rich and the healthy legumes you can eat. They have a popular legume origin within the Thanksgiving traditions of the US where they’re commonly featured in their green bean casserole. In other places around the world, they’re eaten whole, raw, boiled, steamed, roasted and more.
Lentils have become one of the more popular legume pulses over the years as a substitute for many meat-based dishes in the Western cultures of the world. Green Lentils, specifically, are one of the healthy legumes you can eat with a unique shape; they are very small, firm, green and lens shaped. They like to grow in a variety of clay bed and loam soil conditions around the world without too much water such as in Spain and Australia. After being de-hulled, these types of legumes cook by boiling in just 10 minutes and compliment anything.
As you’ll get to know, most of the types of legumes have many names around the world and the Horse Bean is no exception. The classification of legumes for the Horse Bean reaches names of the Fava Bean, the Broad Bean, the Field Bean, the Tick Bean and more. Otherwise, these popular legume pulses are another pod-growth but feature a flattened and white body rather than round and green. As well as this, they’re cultivated throughout the Mediterranean and distributed for cuisine pretty much everywhere from Spain to Japan.
If we’re being honest, the name tells all: they appear to be small kidneys (colour, shape and all!). These healthy legumes you can eat have a smooth glossy skin inviting you to dig into that chilli con carne. However, it’s also important to know these types of legumes contain proteins called lectins which cause an upset stomach when they’re not fully cooked. A way to avoid the discomfort is to buy tinned kidney beans as they are cooked during the tinning process in a way that gets rid of those pesky lectins.
Lupin Beans are the types of legumes featuring a golden-yellow colour, a smooth and shiny body and a rather flattened square shape. If you’re an avid reader of The Hobby Kraze, you’ll know we love to feature the Ancient Egyptians and here they are. They used to love Lupin Beans. Today, though, they are cultivated in Australia to be ‘sweet’ Lupin Beans that are peeled, soaked and ground. Then, they’re used as a very popular legume pulse that is part of a growing plant-based lifestyle for an added hint of salty protein.
Having alternative names like Green Gram and Maash, the Mung Bean types of legumes are a very common addition to dishes and cuisine throughout the Middle East and Asia. They are another out-of-the-ground pod-growing legume whose pod is green and furry. Typically, they’re used for both sweet dishes like Mung Bean dessert as well as savoury meals like Hopia and Mung Bean fry. However, that doesn’t mean they’re not being imported to the West for their nutritional value. They are being increasingly used in vegan cuisine.
Navy Beans are a close cousin of the Cannellini Bean. They’re also one of the four popular legume pulses that are white (despite the unassuming name). These types of legumes also go by the names Pearl Haricot Bean and Boston Bean. As a Brit, you’ve almost certainly had a fair share of lazy Saturday nights consisting of baked beans on toast. And if you’re wondering when they’d pop-up in this legume origin list, it’s now. P.S. The namesake came about due to being the popular legume pulses used for the US Navy in the 1800s.
Puns aside, we’re being serious when we tell you that peanuts are not nuts at all! This is entirely because they grow underground on the root system of the peanut legume plant. They also grow in their own little iconic pod like the other types of legumes here such as the green bean and garden pea. Despite this, they’re often eaten whole and raw much like a nut you’d find on a tree. Plus, during its reign as a snack food, it has certainly become one of the most popular legume pulses we know on this list.
The Pigeon Peas (also known as the Gungo Pea) is an Indian native whose seeds have become a popular legume pulse for dishes across America, Asia and Africa. However, one thing to note about these specific types of legumes is their low production and high value. Being part of many diets, across the world, they have a large demand. Yet, the farming tends to happen on a low-scale with a low-yield. So, expect these crispy and nutty greens to have a higher price than any other of the classification of legumes on this list.
This one has to be one of our favourites based on their name alone! Pinto Beans – or ‘frijol pinto’ in Spanish – translates to speckled bean, which can sound small and sweet. However, as a bean, it’s strong and mighty. Pinto Beans are healthy legumes you can eat and can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. For example, whole, mashed or even re-fried. Found most commonly in Mexican cuisines such as burritos, soups and broths, it isn’t a surprise to find it’s the most grown crop in Northern Mexico.
Red Lentils are the more popular legume pulses to use within curries, soups and casseroles. That is, in comparison to their Green Lentil counterparts. Not only do these types of legumes bring out the flavours in a dish while adding a crunch and a variety of macronutrients like protein, but they also bring a welcome burst of colour to each dish. In terms of the Red Lentil Legume Origin, they are mainly exported from Canada and India for their temperate climates. This way, they’re seeded in the Wintertime and grown throughout Spring.
Scarlet Runner Beans
Scarlet Runner Beans are of the few types of legumes originating from the central American mountains. The legume origin story involves being grown for its attractive flowers and its decorative appeal. However, in current times, the Scarlet Runner Bean (also known as the Butter Bean), is a popular choice for those with allotments as the seed can be dried and eaten, as well as easily grown the following year. Long-gone are the days where their flowers are the star of the show. Although, it is hard to not fall for their vibrant colours.
Originating from Eastern Asia, Soybeans are one of the types of legumes taking the world by storm. They’re rising as popular legume pulses at the moment because they’re the perfect meat substitute providing proteins and nutrients in the form of soy milk and tofu. Yet, Soybeans have been a crucial crop in East Asia dating back before records began. In fact, in 2853 B.C., a Chinese Emperor proclaimed the classification of legumes and oilseeds such as Soybeans were part of the five sacred plants: Soy, Rice, Wheat, Barley and Millet.
The Velvet Bean has a specific way to becoming one of the healthy legumes you can eat. In fact, just as Japan ferments Tempeh using Soybeans, Indonesia creates Benguk using Velvet Beans. The plant, itself, is a stunning dark purple with drooping blooms similar to a fuchsia. But, back to the Velvet Beans: they are also known as Monkey Tamarind. They’re native to Africa and are really only used in Indonesian cuisine. Also, you’ll need to watch out for extreme itching if you’re picking blooms for these types of legumes by hand!
Last but not least, we have Vetches. Yes, they might sound a little unpleasant from the name. And you’d be right. These types of legumes aren’t actually any of the healthy legumes you can eat; they contain toxins such as cyanide. So, take it off the recipe for your salad box. Although inedible, this legume origin story does have its uses. Often, farmers use them as a cover crop to protect their land from weather erosion and preserve soil qualities over the Winter. Plus, they grow long green tendrils with purple blooms. So, it’s not all bad.
Aside from the last one on the list, all these various types of legumes (without sounding like we’re trying to sell you a menu) have their way of providing you with healthy and nutritional meals. Which, when you’re eating these meals on a regular basis, will give you energy, help you sleep better and allow you to enjoy your hobbies and adventures outside of mealtimes, too!
The team here at The Hobby Kraze love to hear about your new ventures with food, nature, activities and more. So, if you found this article about the 20 types of legumes you can find growing in our planet’s rich soil helpful, then let us know. Also, don’t forget to tell us which legumes you squeezed into the a-la-carte and how tasty it was!
Otherwise, if you’re still wanting to learn more about nuts, foods, drinks and more, have a look at some of our other foodie-orientated articles you can eat-up:
- Everything You Didn’t Know You Needed to Know About the Types of Almonds
- A Foodie Guide to the Types of Nuts
- 32 Types of Mushrooms, Shrooms, Sprouts, Spores, Ground Fruits and Other Fungi
- The 26 Types of Bagels and How You Can Make Your Own
- Sprinkle a Little Spice in Your Life with a Fact File of the Types of Spices
- Uncorking and Unwinding in the 26 Novel Types of Bar
- Choosing the Right Succulent from the Top 42 Types of Cactus