legume fruit is a simple dry fruit that develops from a simple carpel and
usually dehisces (opens along a seam) on two sides. A common name for this
type of fruit is a pod. Well-known legumes include alfalfa, clover, peas,
beans, lentils, lupins, mesquite, carob, soy, and peanuts.
Farmed legumes can belong to many agricultural classes, including forage,
grain, blooms, pharmaceutical/industrial, fallow/green manure, and timber
contain relatively low quantities of the essential amino acid methionine.
To compensate, some vegetarian cultures serve legumes along with grains,
which are low in the essential amino acid lysine, which legumes contain.
Thus a combination of legumes with grains can provide all necessary amino
acids for vegetarians. Common examples of such combinations are dal with
rice by Indians, and beans with corn tortillas, tofu with rice, and peanut
butter with wheat bread.
- Grain legumes are cultivated for their seeds, and are also called pulses.
The seeds are used for human and animal consumption or for the production
of oils for industrial uses. Grain legumes include beans, lentils, lupins,
peas, and peanuts.
- Legume species grown for their flowers include lupins, which are farmed
commercially for their blooms as well as being popular in gardens
- Industrially farmed legumes include Indigofera and Acacia species, which
are cultivated for dye and natural gum production, respectively.
- Fallow/green manure legume species are cultivated to be tilled back into
the soil in order to exploit the high levels of captured atmospheric
nitrogen found in the roots of most legumes. Numerous legumes farmed for
this purpose include Leucaena, Cyamopsis, and Sesbania species.
- Various legume species are farmed for timber production worldwide,
including numerous Acacia species and Castanospermum australe.
A pulse is an annual leguminous crop yielding from one to twelve seeds of
variable size, shape, and color within a pod. Pulses are used for food and
animal feed. The term "pulse", as used by the Food and Agricultural
Organization (FAO), is reserved for crops harvested solely for the dry
seed. This excludes green beans and green peas, which are considered
vegetable crops. Also excluded are crops that are mainly grown for oil
extraction (oilseeds like soybeans and peanuts), and crops which are used
exclusively for sowing (clovers, alfalfa). However, in common use these distinctions are not clearly made, and many of
the varieties so classified and given below are also used as vegetables,
with their beans in pods while young cooked in whole cuisines and sold for
the purpose; for example black eyed beans, lima beans and Toor or pigeon
peas are thus eaten as fresh green beans cooked as part of a meal. Pulses
are important food crops due to their high protein and essential amino acid
content. Like many leguminous crops, pulses play a key role in crop
rotation due to their ability to fix nitrogen.
FAO recognizes 11 primary pulses.
1. Dry beans
2. Dry broad beans
- Kidney bean, haricot bean, pinto bean, navy bean
- Lima bean, butter bean
- Azuki bean, adzuki bean
- Mung bean, golden gram, green gram
- Black gram, urad
- Scarlet runner bean
- Rice bean
- Moth bean
- Tepary bean
4. Chickpea, garbanzo, Bengal gram
- Horse bean
- Broad bean
- Field bean
5. Dry cowpea, black-eyed pea, blackeye bean
6. Pigeon pea, Arhar /Toor, cajan pea, Congo bean
8. Bambara groundnut, earth pea
9. Vetch, common vetch
11. Minor pulses, including:
- Lablab, hyacinth bean
- Jack bean, sword bean
- Winged bean
- Velvet bean, cowitch
- Yam bean
Pulses are 20 to 25% protein by weight, which is double the protein content
of wheat and three times that of rice. While pulses are generally high in
protein, and the digestibility of that protein is also high, they often are
relatively poor in the essential amino acid methionine, although Indian
cuisine includes sesame seeds, which contain high levels of methionine.
Grains (which are themselves deficient in lysine) are commonly consumed
along with pulses to form a complete diet of protein.
Pulses have significant nutritional and health advantages for consumers.
They are the most important dietary predictor of survival in older people
of different ethnicities and in the Seven Countries Study; legume
consumption was highly correlated with a reduced mortality from coronary
heart disease. Furthermore, pulses are especially high in amylose starch
making them a good source of prebiotic resistant starch.