They include all varieties of peas, beans and lentils. All of the legumes are rich in iron, vitamins, lime, protein and starch.
The legumes contain a small amount of certain uric-acid-forming substances (chemically known as purins). Dried beans yield four grains of uric acid to the pound. Dried beef yields eight times as much, or 30 grains to the pound (Kellogg). Uric acid is a waste product which the kidneys must eliminate. If an excess is formed, it may remain in the blood, liver and other tissues and organs of the body, where it can produce irritation and diseases.
These foods require a vigorous alimentary apparatus for their proper digestion. Legumes are rich in protein and starch, and a person who has any impairment of his digestive organs cannot readily handle such concentrated foods. Even people who have very good digestive organs should make simple meals when they eat any of the legumes. A large green vegetable salad in combination with a dish of lentils or beans is a balanced meal. This will digest better than when mixed with several other cooked foods and with bread, cake, coffee, etc.
Purees of legumes are easier to digest than the entire bean because, in straining, the external hull is discarded.
The iron content of legumes is quite high. Lentils contain, by weight, the same amount as egg yolk.
The lime content of legumes is also considerable. One ounce of beans contains a grain of lime.
The biological quality of the protein of legumes is best in soy beans, quite good in lentils and peas, and poor in beans. When these foods are used as daily staples, they give good nutritional results when green leafy vegetables, apples and other fruits, and milk are included in bills of fare.
Peasant races have grown sturdy on their legume diets. We have already mentioned the remark made in Isadora Duncan’s autobiography, namely, that Egyptian workmen subsist almost exclusively on lentils and lettuce, yet their bodies are sturdy and graceful. Those people are building better than they know. Modern bionutrition and biochemistry prove that one may derive all the necessary nutriments for healthy sturdiness from two simple foods such as lentils and lettuce.
The soy bean is a particularly interesting legume. It contains about one-half the amount of starch of any other legume, and it is also richer in fat and protein than the other legumes.
It is not a very popular food in northern countries, but the Oriental people eat it as a daily staple and they use it in making various dishes. The Chinese have used the soy bean since 2838 B.C. It was introduced into France in 1740 A.D., into England in 1790 A.D., and into America in the 19th century.
There are more than a thousand varieties. Over twenty varieties are handled by growers and seed men in this country. The green and yellow varieties are used for human food, the black and brown for forage.
Ordinary cooking of soy beans requires five to six hours to soften them. However, steam-pressure cooking takes less than two hours to get them well done.
Ground, powdered soy-bean products are available on the market. They are excellent and provide a flour substitute for cookies and cakes. cakes.
Soy-bean milk is an infant food in Japan and other countries that do not have enough dairy foods. In England and France this product is used extensively. Here is how to prepare it:
One cup of soy-bean meal is added to five cups of boiling water. Let mixture soak for two hours. Bring it to the boiling point over a low flame and keep stirring it for ten minutes. Filter it through a fine strainer. It closely resembles cow’s milk.
Its protein is as good as the protein of cow’s milk. Its fat is easily digested. It contains less lime and vitamins, and no sugar. If we add to soy-bean milk raw vegetable juice, extracted from two or three salad vegetables, such as parsley, lettuce, carrot and celery, it becomes a perfect food for the infant.
The composition of soy beans, as determined by the U. S. Department of Agriculture, is as follows:
Mineral matter 4.8% Water 8.5 Protein 39.5 Fat 18.0 Starch 29.0