The push, pull, and enabling capacities necessary for legume grain inclusion into sustainable agri-food systems and healthy diets

M. W. Vasconcelos*, A. M. Gomes, E. Pinto, H. Ferreira, E. D. F. Vieira, A. P. Martins, C. S. Santos, B. Balázs, E. Kelemen, K.T. Hamann, M. Williams, P. P. M. Iannetta

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Legume grains are traditional crops that have been modernized as processed foods and animal protein alternatives in recent years. This modernization has largely been fueled by new technological developments driven by increased consumer demands for plant protein and gluten-free options. However, consumers must be mindful that legumes have other nutritional attributes besides protein that help achieve healthier diets, and recent evidence suggests that consuming 100 g of legume grains per day would promote nutrient-dense diets and could be a target level to harmonize international strategies for recommended daily allowances. The nutritional richness of legumes has been associated with a decrease in numerous disease risk factors and, given their long shelf life, legumes are excellent choices to combat food waste and may have a role to play in countries where cold storage is often a limitation in food preservation. Besides their inclusion in global diets, legumes should be included in sustainable cropping systems. The high number of edible species and cultivars available render them excellent contributors to biodiverse food and feed systems. Legume cultivation allows reducing environmental impacts by means of the ability of legumes to fix atmospheric nitrogen via a symbiosis with nitrogen-fixing bacteria, making them natural fertilizers. Still, despite the well-known health, nutritional, and environmental benefits, legumes are underrepresented in global agri-food systems. Efforts must be made to make legumes more attractive to the farmer, the industry, and ultimately the consumer, and for this proper local, regional, national, and global policy frameworks must be in place. Here, the local scenario of legumes is showcased, and the most relevant push, pull, and enabling capacities required to achieve sustainable diversified agri-food systems with legumes are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)193-211
Number of pages19
JournalWorld Review of Nutrition and Dietetics
Volume121
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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