Beans vs. Legumes

What's the Difference?

Beans and legumes are both types of plants that belong to the same family, Fabaceae. However, there are some differences between the two. Beans are a specific type of legume that are typically harvested for their seeds, which are commonly consumed as a food source. They come in various shapes, sizes, and colors, such as kidney beans, black beans, and pinto beans. On the other hand, legumes are a broader category that includes not only beans but also other plants like lentils, chickpeas, and peas. Legumes are known for their high protein content, dietary fiber, and essential nutrients, making them a popular choice for vegetarian and vegan diets. Overall, while beans are a subset of legumes, legumes encompass a wider variety of plants with similar nutritional benefits.


Scientific NamePhaseolus vulgarisVarious
TypesBlack beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, etc.Lentils, chickpeas, peas, etc.
ShapeOval or kidney-shapedVaries (round, oval, split)
ColorVarious (black, red, white, etc.)Various (green, yellow, brown, etc.)
UsageCooked in soups, stews, salads, etc.Cooked in various dishes, sprouted, etc.
Nutritional ValueHigh in protein, fiber, iron, folate, etc.High in protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, etc.
CultivationGrown in many regions worldwideGrown in many regions worldwide

Further Detail


Beans and legumes are both highly nutritious plant-based foods that have been consumed by humans for centuries. They are often used interchangeably in recipes and are known for their high protein content and versatility in various cuisines. However, while beans and legumes share many similarities, they also have distinct differences in terms of taste, texture, nutrient profiles, and culinary uses. In this article, we will explore the attributes of beans and legumes, highlighting their unique characteristics and benefits.

1. Nutrient Profiles

Both beans and legumes are excellent sources of plant-based protein, dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals. However, their specific nutrient profiles may vary slightly. Beans, such as kidney beans, black beans, and pinto beans, are particularly rich in folate, iron, and potassium. They also contain significant amounts of antioxidants, which help protect the body against oxidative stress and inflammation. On the other hand, legumes like lentils, chickpeas, and peas are known for their high levels of folate, magnesium, and phosphorus. They are also a great source of complex carbohydrates, making them an ideal food for sustained energy release.

2. Taste and Texture

When it comes to taste and texture, beans and legumes offer distinct experiences. Beans generally have a denser texture and a slightly earthy flavor. They can be creamy when cooked properly, making them perfect for soups, stews, and dips. On the other hand, legumes have a softer texture and a milder taste. Lentils, for example, have a delicate nutty flavor and a slightly grainy texture, while chickpeas have a buttery texture and a slightly nutty taste. These differences in taste and texture make beans and legumes suitable for a wide range of culinary applications.

3. Culinary Uses

Beans and legumes are incredibly versatile ingredients that can be used in a variety of dishes. Beans are commonly used in Mexican cuisine, where they are a staple in dishes like chili, refried beans, and burritos. They are also popular in Mediterranean cuisine, where they are used in salads, soups, and casseroles. Legumes, on the other hand, are widely used in Indian cuisine, where they form the base of dishes like dal and curries. They are also a key ingredient in Middle Eastern cuisine, where they are used to make hummus and falafel. Additionally, both beans and legumes can be sprouted and used in salads or sandwiches, adding a fresh and crunchy element to the dish.

4. Health Benefits

Both beans and legumes offer numerous health benefits due to their nutrient-rich profiles. The high fiber content in both types of legumes promotes healthy digestion and helps regulate blood sugar levels. Regular consumption of beans and legumes has been associated with a reduced risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer. The protein content in beans and legumes makes them an excellent choice for vegetarians and vegans looking to meet their protein needs. Additionally, the low glycemic index of legumes makes them a suitable food for individuals with diabetes or those aiming to manage their blood sugar levels.

5. Cooking and Preparation

Beans and legumes require different cooking methods and preparation techniques. Beans, especially dried beans, need to be soaked overnight before cooking to reduce cooking time and improve digestibility. They can then be simmered on the stovetop or cooked in a pressure cooker until tender. Canned beans, on the other hand, are a convenient option as they are already cooked and can be used directly in recipes. Legumes, such as lentils and split peas, do not require soaking and cook relatively quickly. They can be simmered on the stovetop or cooked in a pressure cooker until soft. Both beans and legumes can be seasoned with various herbs, spices, and aromatics to enhance their flavors.


While beans and legumes share many similarities in terms of their nutrient profiles and health benefits, they also have distinct differences in taste, texture, culinary uses, and cooking methods. Beans are known for their denser texture and earthy flavor, making them ideal for hearty dishes, while legumes offer a softer texture and milder taste, making them versatile in a wide range of cuisines. Regardless of their differences, both beans and legumes are excellent additions to a balanced diet, providing essential nutrients and contributing to overall health and well-being.

Comparisons may contain inaccurate information about people, places, or facts. Please report any issues.