Legumes and beans are wonder foods and are a perfect source of proteins, especially for the vegetarians who don't consume meat. There are over thousand beans and legume species including kidney beans, lima beans, chickpeas, butter beans, broad beans, lentils, miso, peanuts and the list is endless. Many cultures and cuisines consider these food items as an integral part of their cooking. In western cuisines, the long cooking beans or kidney beans are popular and are a part of many dishes, while in Indian cuisines, the black or yellow dried lentils is the staple. Legumes and beans are an extremely important part of healthy diet as they are a major source of complex carbohydrates, fiber, protein and minerals such as potassium, magnesium and zinc. You can actually trade beans for meat at least twice or thrice a week because of their high nutrition content. They are just so light, yet so appetizing. Legumes and beans, which are low in fat, absorb the flavor of spices and herbs, making them fun and tasty to eat. Some people however avoid beans because of the intestinal gas or bloating it can cause. However, soaking beans in water before cooking and cooking them slow can help overcome this problem. There are many creative ways of cooking beans and legumes. You can add them to your soups, salads or casseroles. Whatever way you eat them, they are extremely nutritious and should be included in the diet in some form or the other.