NUTRITIONAL AND HEALTH IMPLICATIONS OF LEGUMESAbstract
Legumes are plants in the family Fabaceae characterized by seeds in pods that are often ediblethough sometimes poisonous. The nutrient content (protein, carbohydrate and micronutrients) of legumes contribute to address under-nutrition, especially protein-calorie malnutrition among children and nursing mothers in developing countries where supplementing cereal-based diets with legumes is suggested as one of the best solutions to protein calorie malnutrition. Anti-nutritional factors, in legumes, may limit their biological value and acceptance as a regular food item, yet they are readily removable and recent research has shown potential health benefits of some of these compounds; and hence, manipulation of processing conditions may be required to remove or reduce only those unwanted components. Moreover, legumes play a role in prevention, improvement and/or treatment of disease conditions such as, diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular diseases, cancer diseases (e.g breast and prostate cancers) and lowers blood cholesterol level. Most of these disease conditions are associated with over-nutrition and obesity and are considered as diseases of the rich. It is, therefore, claimed that including legumes in a health-promoting diet is important in meeting the major dietary recommendations to improve the nutritional status of undernourished as well as over-nourished individuals, and to reduce risk of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes mellitus and cancer. In this review, some of the scientific viewpoints that attempt to justify the nutritional contributions, anti-nutritional considerations and health implications of legumes are discussed.
Mebrahtom Gebrelibanos*, Dinka Tesfaye, Y. Raghavendra and Biruk Sintayeyu
Course and Research Unit of Pharmacognosy, Department of Pharmacy, College of Health Sciences, Mekelle University, Mekelle, Ethiopia
21 December, 2012
23 February, 2013
19 March, 2013
01 April, 2013