Beans and peas are the mature forms of legumes. They include kidney
beans, pinto beans, black beans, lima beans, black-eyed peas, garbanzo
beans (chickpeas), split peas and lentils. They are available in dry,
canned, and frozen forms. These foods are excellent sources of plant
protein, and also provide other nutrients such as iron and zinc. They
are similar to meats, poultry, and fish in their contribution of these
nutrients. Therefore, they are considered part of the Protein Foods
Group. Many people
consider beans and peas as vegetarian alternatives for meat. However,
they are also considered part of the Vegetable Group because they are
excellent sources of dietary fiber and nutrients such as folate and
potassium. These nutrients, which are often low in the diet of many
Americans, are also found in other vegetables.
Because of their
high nutrient content, consuming beans and peas is recommended for
everyone, including people who also eat meat, poultry, and fish
regularly. The USDA Food
Patterns classify beans and peas as a subgroup of the Vegetable Group.
The USDA Food Patterns also indicate that beans and peas may be counted
as part of the Protein Foods Group. Individuals can count beans and peas
as either a vegetable or a protein food.
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