Center for Young Women's Health



Foods 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.


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 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 lens-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 and taste delicious in side dishes, soups, and stews.


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 Serving
Protein Calcium Iron Fiber
Black beans 8 grams 23 mg 2 mg 7.5 grams
Black-eyed peas 7 grams 21 mg 2 mg 3.5 grams
Garbanzo beans (chick peas) 7 grams 40 mg 6 mg 5 grams
Kidney beans 8 grams 25 mg 2 mg 7 grams
Lentils 9 grams 19 mg 3 mg 8 grams
Navy Beans 8 grams 63 mg 2 mg 7 grams
Pinto Beans 8 grams 39 mg 2 mg 5.5 grams


What are some ways to prepare and eat legumes?

Here are three easy legume recipes to try:


Easy Hummus



2 cups cooked chickpeas

2/3 cup water

3 tablespoons tahini

1 large clove garlic

½ teaspoon salt

2 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons lemon juice



  1. Place all ingredients in a blender. Blend until creamy and serve. Keep refrigerated.

Easy Bean Salad



1 package extra firm tofu, cubed

2 cans kidney or garbanzo beans

1 small can sliced olives

½ cup chopped fresh parsley

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon lemon juice or cider vinegar

Salt and pepper to taste



  1. Put all ingredients into a bowl and mix well. Chill for a few hours and serve.

Beans and Rice



1 cup rice, cooked according to package directions

1 teaspoon olive or canola oil

1 can black beans

1 can kidney beans

1/4 onion, diced

½ green pepper, diced

½ red pepper, diced

1 teaspoon dried sage

1 teaspoon ground ginger

½ teaspoon paprika

Tabasco sauce and crushed red pepper flakes to taste



  1. In a large frying pan, heat the oil over medium heat.
  2. Add pepper and onion and cook, stirring often, for 3-4 minutes.
  3. Add the dried spices and beans and cook, stirring, until beans are heated through.
  4. When the beans are heated thoroughly, and the Tabasco sauce. Serve over rice.

Written and reviewed by the CYWH Staff at Boston Children's Hospital


Updated: 12/27/2012


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