Difference Between Beans and Legumes

By: | Updated: Jul-10, 2022
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Beans and legumes are two types of foods that are often confused with each other. Both beans and legumes belong to the same family, known as Fabaceae. However, they differ in their ways of preparation, taste, texture and nutrition-related effects. There are many benefits of eating beans over eating legumes, even though they are both considered to be what is known as a “protein-rich food.”

Summary Table

Beans Legumes
Commonly boiled or steamed Commonly eaten raw
Packed with protein, fibre, iron, magnesium and vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, C, D and niacin Rich in vitamin B1, B3, B6 and C; low fat and high fibre; more calories per gram than beans
Used in desserts and snacks Used in cakes and desserts

Difference Between Beans and Legumes


A bean is a type of seed. It comes from a hard red shell that is enclosed by the pod, which contains the seed. Examples of beans are kidney, lima, black-eyed peas and pinto beans. The beans are classified into two categories based on the preparation for consumption: dry beans and canned ones.

A legume is a type of edible bean that has to be harvested before it can mature fully. Legumes are divided into two categories. One group is known as the dry legumes, which are seeds that we eat whole. Examples of dry legumes include lentils and split peas. Another group of legumes are called the green or fresh legumes, which can be eaten in their pods. Examples of green legumes include soybeans, peanuts, cowpeas and field peas.

Beans vs Legumes

Beans are usually boiled or steamed to soften their skin before they are eaten. This way they are easier to digest and have a firmer texture than beans that have been cooked in a sauce or soup.

Legumes are usually eaten raw, as they cook quickly once they are harvested. However, some legumes can be cooked in various ways such as stir frying, boiling or even roasting them with herbs and spices. These dishes have a smoother texture than those that have been boiled or steamed.

Beans are a very healthy and nutritious food. They are packed with protein, fibre, iron, magnesium and vitamins B1, B3, B5, C and D. Beans also contain other important nutrients such as thiamine (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2) and niacin.

Legumes are considered to be a healthy food because they are low in fat and high in fibre. However, they do contain more calories per gram than beans, with most legumes having between 20 and 25 calories per serving. Legumes are rich in vitamin B1, B3, B6 and C.

Beans can also be used as ingredients for desserts and snacks. For example, kidney beans can be used as a topping for ice cream or desserts. Alternatively, they can be incorporated into stews or soups to make them more flavorful.

Legumes may be used as ingredients for cakes and desserts. For example, black-eyed peas are often used as a topping for cakes to add texture and color.

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