Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Including Legumes on a Low FODMAP Diet

By Lyndal McNamara (Dietitian)
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 http://www.glnc.org.au/legumes/legume-references/

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 ‘low FODMAP Vegan Coconut & Pumpkin Curry’

- Substitute half of the meat in bolognaise sauce/casseroles for canned lentils- try this ‘low FODMAP slow cooked 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 & Pumpkin 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 with Asian Greens and Rice’ or ‘Hot & Sour Asian Soup’:



  1. Are there any other foods which give some of the same benefits ?
    I cannot tolerate legumes even tinned ones.

    1. Hi Leena,

      Thank you for your question. Yes fortunately there are and it may be that you just want to look at the quantity that you are consuming. Including a variety of vegetables in your diet will assist in providing fibres that can assist in managing IBS symptoms as well as promote gut health. We will be kicking off a series of blogs on different fibres that you may want to stay tuned for over the next few weeks. Also if you would like advice tailored to your tolerance and symptoms, we recommend seeing a dietitian who specialised in gastrointestinal issues to tailor a diet to your needs.

      Kind regards,

  2. Are boiled sprouted mung beans any different from regular boiled mung beans? I bought sprouted mung beans but it looks like they need to be boiled and I am worried this would make them high fodmap