What Are Legumes—and What Aren’t Legumes?

Today we’re talking about legumes. You probably heard the word before when you referred to a peanut as a nut and someone corrected you by saying, “Actually, peanuts are legumes.” But what is a legume? What are some legumes you may have encountered before (besides the dang peanut)? How do you say this word that you’ve read several times now? Let’s get the facts.

What are legumes?

To put it simply, legumes are beans and beans are legumes. But what does that mean? It means that they are members of the Fabaceae or Leguminosae family of flowering plants. 

By the way, it’s worth noting that there are a lot of things we call beans that actually aren’t members of the bean/legume family. For example, vanilla beans, coffee beans, and castor beans are all actually fruits from different plants—they’ve been given the “bean” moniker because their appearances are similar to legumes. 

How to pronounce legume correctly?

“Legume” is not pronounced like “lagoon.” Instead, it’s more like “leg-yoom.” But with “legume lagoon,” we’ve got the beginnings of a pretty solid tongue twister. “There is no leg room in the legume lagoon.” Try it before your next public speaking engagement!

What are some examples of legumes?

Now that we know what legumes are, and even how to pronounce the word, let’s get some specifics. Here are some examples of legumes: lentils, peas, chickpeas, soy beans, lima beans, black beans, and, perhaps most famously, peanuts. All of those bean-ish things are legumes. 

Are legumes vegetables?

Legumes are certainly made of plant matter, as they are the seeds or fruit of plants in the Leguminosae family. According to the USDA, legumes like dried peas and lentils are considered vegetables. However, if you’re looking for the vitamins and nutrients associated with leafy greens and root veggies, you’ll probably be disappointed by legumes. They contain more protein, and generally should be counted toward your protein intake, not your vegetable intake.

Are nuts legumes?

Peanuts aside, nuts are not legumes. Incidentally, as with the word “bean,” the word “nut” is a tricky one because its common usage doesn’t match up exactly with its technical meaning. For example, almonds and cashews are actually seeds, whereas chestnuts and hazelnuts are true nuts. 

What are some legume health benefits?

Now that you and legumes have become acquainted, what are some benefits we can expect from them? Legumes are extremely popular for a reason—they are a lightweight, tasty protein that can be easily stored. In addition, they may help reduce the risk of certain types of cancer, they’re heart healthy, and they have a low glycemic index, which makes them a great option for people with diabetes. Hooray for legumes!

About the Author

Matt Crowley

Matt Crowley is a comedy writer living in Los Angeles. He likes maple-flavored snacks, loves every kind of cheese, and is slowly learning to accept mushrooms.

Thoughts? Questions? Complete disagreement? Leave a comment!

Your thoughts.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *