CHICAGO – Beans, pulses and legumes can be classified as either vegetables or proteins under the new USDA dietary guidelines, giving them an important role in a person's daily diet, an expert panel said at the Institute of Food Technologists' Wellness 12 meeting.
The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which highlights the messages behind the MyPlate food icon, recommend half a person's plate be vegetables and fruit, the other half grains and protein, and a serving of dairy be included with the meal. In the guidelines, beans, pulses and legumes are permitted to go on either side of the plate, although not both, at each meal. This does not include green beans, which are grouped with other vegetables.
During Wednesday's panel, Joanne Slavin, PhD., RD, professor at the University of Minnesota and a member of the committee that wrote the guidelines, said beans, pulses and legumes are a good source of protein, fiber and nutrients such as potassium and folate. However, most Americans do not get nearly enough of them in their diets, and when they do report eating beans, the most common form is refried.
"It's an exciting time, with the huge emphasis on plant products as a healthier way to eat," Slavin said. "There are lots of opportunities to increase consumption."
Brian Larson, Ph.D., vice president of research and development for JG Consulting Services, LLC, gave examples of how specialty grain legumes, such as sweet white lupin, pigeon peas and heirloom/heritage beans, could add nutritional value to bakery products and frozen waffles and pancakes, as well as act as a meat substitute, a soup thickening and fortification agent and act as a potato substitute or side dish in frozen entrees.
These specialty grains add protein, resistant carbohydrates and healthy fiber without adding gluten, he said.
The Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) is a nonprofit scientific society. Our individual members are professionals engaged in food science, food technology, and related professions in industry, academia, and government. IFT's mission is to advance the science of food, and our long-range vision is to ensure a safe and abundant food supply, contributing to healthier people everywhere.
For more than 70 years, the IFT has been unlocking the potential of the food science community by creating a dynamic global forum where members from more than 100 countries can share, learn, and grow. We champion the use of sound science across the food value chain through the exchange of knowledge, by providing education, and by furthering the advancement of the profession. IFT has offices in Chicago, Illinois and Washington, D.C. For more information, please visit ift.org .