Including legumes on a low FODMAP diet

Including Legumes on a Low FODMAP Diet

Lyndal McNamara - Research Dietitian, 18 October 2016

Legumes (otherwise known as pulses) include all types of beans, peas and lupins. The health benefits of regular consumption of legumes are well known (see table 1), predominately because they are low in saturated fat, have a low GI, are an excellent source of dietary fibre and contain a variety of phytochemicals (natural plant chemicals with health promoting effects).

Table 1: Health Benefits of Legumes

Nutritional characteristic Associated health benefits
High in dietary fibre -Can assist with weight management by promoting a feeling of fullness after eating
-Contain insoluble fibre, which adds bulk to stools and assists with preventing constipation
-Contain soluble fibre, which assists in maintaining healthy blood glucose and cholesterol levels
-Contain prebiotic fibre, which is fermented by colonic bacteria to short chain fatty acids and promotes overall digestive health
High in phytochemicals -Contain antioxidants and other bioactive compounds, which help to protect the body against disease
Low glycaemic index (GI) -Contain slowly digested carbohydrates, that improve blood glucose control and insulin response in those with diabetes and reduce risk of diabetes in healthy people
High in protein -Legumes are a great non-animal source of protein for vegetarians and vegans
Low in saturated fat -Assist with maintaining healthy cholesterol levels and reducing risk of cardiovascular disease

References: please see an extensive list of references on the Grains & Legumes Nutrition Council (GLNC) website

Legumes on a low FODMAP diet

For those following a low FODMAP diet, legumes can be a troublesome food because they are naturally high in oligos; including galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS) and fructans.

The good news is that legumes do not need to be strictly avoided by people following a low FODMAP diet, with suitable ‘green’ serve information available for many legumes on the Monash app.

Because oligos dissolve in water, cooking and processing methods can affect the FODMAP content of legumes. For example, canned legumes or those that have been boiled and drained tend to be lower in FODMAPs as some oligos ‘leach’ out into the canning/cooking water and are removed when they are drained and rinsed. Read more here 

Dietary recommendations for legumes

The GLNC recommends enjoying legumes 2-3 times per week for maximum health benefits. Here are some suggestions for how to easily incorporate more legumes into a low FODMAP diet: 

- Add a small can (125g) of chickpeas to stir-fries or curries – try this vegan coconut pumpkin curry 

- Substitute half of the meat in bolognaise sauce/casseroles for canned lentils- try this lamb casserole  

- Sprinkle ¼ cup (53g) of cooked mung beans (boiled & drained) over salads 

- Add canned butter beans to homemade soups or stews - Mix ¼ cup (42g) canned chickpeas with a small tin of tuna for a protein and fibre rich snack

- Add legumes to homemade dips- try this roasted red pepper hummus

- Top an egg on toast for breakfast with homemade baked beans (using ¼ cup (35g) canned butter beans per person) 

- Substitute meat in Asian style dishes for firm tofu or tempeh- try this low FODMAP marinated tofu or hot and sour Asian soup 


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