Pasta and beans, one of the typical first courses of the Italian culinary tradition, widespread in many variations in all regions, bears witness to this: combining cereals and legumes is one of the pillars of the gastronomic culture of our country. This pairing is one of the hallmarks of Mediterranean diet, of which these two food groups represent the cornerstones together with fruit, vegetables, extra virgin olive oil and fish. And it is also one of the elements that makes this diet so healthy. In fact, the combination of cereals and legumes is not only good, it is also very good for health and helps you to bring complete and nutritious dishes to the table, as well as tasty. Let’s find out together why it is important to combine legumes with cereals and how to take advantage of the benefits of this mix with recipes right.
Cereals and legumes to bring excellent quality vegetable proteins to the table
Legumes and cereals are excellent source of vegetable protein. It’s about protein good organic quality, which however are not exactly equivalent to those present in foods of animal origin, such as meat, fish and eggs. It is the people who make the difference amino acids that contain. What are Amino Acids? Are the basic building blocks of proteins and they play an essential role for the proper functioning of many organs and systems of our body, from muscles to immune defences. They are divided into non-essential amino acids, that our body can produce on its owne essential amino acidswhich instead we have to take it with food.
Protein-rich foods are all excellent sources of amino acids, but while those of animal origin contain all 8 essential amino acidsthose of vegetable origin they contain just a few. That’s why the animal proteins they define themselves “nobles“: Because I am complete in terms of amino acids, that is able to ensure all the essential amino acids we need, and therefore have an excellent biological quality. Foods of plant origin such as legumes and cereals, on the other hand, cannot supply us by themselves all the essential amino acids in the right proportions that our body needs. But they can do it together.
Specifically, the proteins of the legumes are deficient in an amino acid, the methioninewhile in those gods cereals are in short supply lysine and the tryptophan. However, if we combine them, these two food groups will complement each other e they will compensate for the respective amino acid deficiencies, assuring us vegetable proteins of high biological value that represent a valid alternative to those of animal origin. Combining cereals and legumes is very important especially for those who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet: this trick, in fact, allows you to guarantee excellent quality proteins while not eating meat, fish and derivatives.
In short, even at the table unity is strength and the combination of cereals and legumes is an example.
Legumes and whole grains: the perfect match to stay healthy
Combining cereals and legumes is not only useful for filling their amino acid deficiencies and providing our body with proteins comparable to those of animal origin, but also because, together, these foods ensure very good combination of nutrients to stay healthyespecially if you choose to bring to the table Whole grains.
It underlines it Verona Foundation citing, in confirmation, a US study by Louisiana State University which suggests that i nutritional components of legumes, combined with those of whole grains, can play a synergistic effect beneficial to health, especially for the prevention and treatment of chronic diseases.
Cereals and legumes together ensure the body a precious nutritional treasure consisting of vitamins, mineral salts, starch and especially fibreimportant for promote intestinal regularity and well-being and to hold blood sugar and cholesterol levels under controlwhich if they exceed danger levels increase the risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
Cereals and legumes: the best traditional Italian recipes and more
We understood how important it is to combine cereals and legumes to ensure complete and healthy dishes. But what are the best recipes to enjoy the nutritional benefits that these two food groups give us together?
The Italian traditionas we have seen, boasts some perfect specialties for this purpose, from the already mentioned pasta and beans ai risi e bisifrom the Tuscan ribollita until to lagane e cecia typical recipe of the southern regions based on fresh durum wheat semolina pasta – reminiscent of tagliatelle, but wider and shorter – combined with chickpeas.
But, in reality, there are many recipes that allow you to take advantage of the positive effects of this combination. Just bring to the table soups, soups o cereal and legume salad or prepare a bean burger with which to stuff a sandwich o one lentil vegetable ragout to season the pasta.
Or, perhaps, take inspiration from the dishes of other gastronomic cultures, such as a chickpea hummusthe famous creamy sauce of Middle Eastern origin, to accompany with pita bread or a red lentil dahla typical specialty of Indian cuisine, to be served with basmati rice.
The extra tip: combine less known cereals and legumes
Varying the cereals and legumes you bring to the table is also a tasty way to take advantage of the nutritional benefits that the combination of these two food groups ensures without ever getting bored. Don’t just think about bread, pasta or rice: the world of cereals is full of ingredients to try, from farro all’orzodal more all’avenadal cous cous up to the least known and widespread mile e sorghum.
The same goes for legumes: in addition to the more classic beans, lentils, peas and chickpeas, try them too less known legumes but still very tasty and nutritionally very interesting as i shell not grass peas or experiment with some that are not ours, such as i edamame soybeans eh azuki beanstypical of the Chinese and Japanese tradition.
Some idea? You could make tasty ones polenta crostini with lentilsor some delicious ones lupins and millet vegetable croquettes.
Combining cereals and legumes gives you many benefits and, with a little imagination in the kitchen, doing it is really easy.