Carbohydrates are the main constituents of nutrients found in most of the vegetation on earth, especially the ones that are edible. While stems and branches of plants and trees contain cellulose, the seeds and fruits are storehouses of starch and glucose. All of these three substances, cellulose, starch, and glucose, are carbohydrates. This nutrient is essential for our daily living, as carbohydrate is what gives us the energy to do activities indoors or outdoors. In addition to providing energy, carbohydrates are also responsible for storing protein and fat in our bodies, which are also needed for extra energy.
Plants that contain or have pulses and beans, which are called legumes to differentiate them from other plants, are quite different from the plants of other vegetables and fruits on the planet. The roots of these pulses and beans bear nodules where a kind of bacteria known as the “Rhizobium” thrives. There is a close relationship between the plants of pulses and these bacteria, as both of them rely on each other to grow healthy in the environment. Their relationship is called “symbiosis.” Colonies of Rhizobium bacteria get sustenance of nutrients from the roots of the pulses and beans while also providing nutritious fertilizer to the host plants. They do this by utilizing a process called “nitrogen-fixing,” wherein they are converting nitrogen found in the atmosphere into fertilizer that can then be consumed by the plants. The pulse and bean plants process the nitrogen provided by the Rhizobium bacteria into amino acid, and then they will subsequently convert it into protein. Whenever a legume plant is harvested, the remaining nitrogen that it didn’t turn into a protein will go back to the soil where it grew. All in all, the reason why legumes have protein is that the bacteria give them nitrogen that the plants can turn into the said nutrient.
Much like carbohydrates, protein is also an important nutrient for the human body. Protein is able to repair or build tissues in our organs, and its function is mostly visible in the muscles surrounding the arm. Bodybuilders would take plenty of protein so that they can build muscle mass, which they can tone in the gym to develop great body structure. Every cell found in our body contains protein, and without it, they wouldn’t be able to function properly.
What is the nutritional value of legumes?
Besides protein, the nutrients that you can get from legumes are carbohydrates, dietary fiber, and healthy minerals. Because of the abundance of nutrients found on this type of vegetable, it is considered as one of the most nutritious foods in the world.
Legumes also contain resistance starch, which is often broken down by good bacteria living in the large intestine. This resistant starch will then turn into fatty acids that are important for the cells in the intestines because it provides them with enough energy to function. In addition, legumes can lower our body’s blood pressure, and they can lower cholesterol levels as well.
When were legumes first cultivated?
According to historical records, the earliest trace of cultivated legumes in human history was said to be during 3300 BC at the Ravi River, a body of water found in a land that is now known as the country of Pakistan. It is speculated that legumes have been widely cultivated in other lands as well since geologists have discovered ancient pea seed in Sweden that is said to have thrived during the Stone Age. Around 5,000 years ago, the people of Mesopotamia began cultivating the said type of plant, as they found out that it is more nutritious than most of the vegetables set on their diet.
The most popular legume, the soybean, is said to have originated in China at around 11000 BC, although the appearance of the soybean back then is different from what we are used to now. The domesticated soybeans were brought to the United States by Benjamin Franklin, who got the seed from France when he visited the country in 1804.
Research for soybeans in regards to its uses began in 1932, and it was conducted by the company of Henry Ford, who is arguably famous for being the founder of the Ford Motor Company. Soybean oil was then developed soon after.