We are told that legumes are an excellent source of protein, particularly for vegetarians, and are a good replacement for a diet which is excessive in meat and animal products. In TCM legumes are considered as beneficial to the kidneys, promoting proper growth and development of body and brain, as well as sexual function. However, many people do not digest legumes well and experience problems with flatulence and allergies. These are usually of vata dominant dosha, and have thin, dry or deficient conditions. In Ayurveda it is suggested that legumes should be combined with moist, oily foods to counteract their dry and diuretic properties. Adding seaweeds and sea salt will also bring a moistening effect. Legumes are an ideal food for a kapha dominant dosha, or conditions of excess, heat or dampness.
According to the Five Element Theory, the organs that benefit from consuming legumes will vary depending on their color: Red beans (aduki, red lentil, kidney) are beneficial to the heart/small intestine (fire element); yellow beans (garzbanzo, yellow pea, soybean) benefit the spleen/stomach (earth element); white beans (lima, navy, great northern) benefit lungs/large intestine (metal element); black beans (black bean, black soybean, brown lentil) benefit kidneys/urinary bladder (water element); and green beans (mung bean, green lentil, fresh green beans) are beneficial to the liver/gall bladder (wood element).
Aduki beans – these are considered, along with mung beans, to be the most digestible beans to eat according to Ayurvedic medicine, and are balancing to all three doshas. They are detoxifying and remove heat and dampness. Use sparingly for thin and dry conditions. For a change, try homemade hummus made with aduki beans instead of chickpeas.
Black (turtle) beans – build yin fluids and blood. Good in conditions of lower back and knee pain, kidney stones and menopausal hot flashes.
Garbanzo bean (chickpea) – these beans contain more iron than any other legume.
Great northern and navy beans – good for the skin and lungs, cool in nature.
Kidney beans – cooling, diuretic, increase yin fluids, and good for edema and swelling.
Lentils – lentils need less cooking than other beans and are neutral in nature.
Lima beans – good for the skin; alkalizing and good for acidic conditions caused by a diet of excessive meat and processed foods.
Mung beans – the most important bean in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine, they are known for their detoxifying properties and ability to relieve damp summer heat. Sprouted mung beans are commonly available and used to detoxify and build yin fluids. Use sparingly in all conditions of coldness.
String beans – used in cases of diarrhea, do not use if constipated.
To cook legumes and prevent indigestion and gas do the following:
Cook with fennel or cumin.
Season with salt, miso, or soy sauce no more than 15 minutes before the end of cooking. If done at the beginning, the beans will not cook completely.
Place soaked kombu or kelp seaweed, plus the soaking water, at the bottom of the pot for better digestion of beans.
Soak legumes for 12 hours or overnight in four parts plain water to legume. Lentils require shorter soaking.
Discard the foam from the water once it has boiled, or half way through cooking.Leave a reply →