Legumes are a plant-based food family that includes lentils, beans, peas, and chickpeas. They are nutritional powerhouses packed with high quantities of protein and are a versatile and inexpensive way to substitute your meat consumption.
Many people get confused about grain legumes and potatoes, as these ingredients are used in many foods like bread, pasta, and tortillas. In this article, we aim to eliminate any doubts linking these two food families.
Potatoes are not legumes. Potatoes belong to the Solanaceae family, and legumes belong to the Fabaceae family.
Even though both families contain species that are used as staple diets throughout the world, there is still no way in which potatoes are related to beans, peas, or other legumes.
Is Potato a Legume Plant?
Legumes and potatoes are key vegetables considered starchy.
They contain high amounts of starch, which is a type of carbohydrate. Starchy legumes are an inexpensive and valued source of dietary fiber (1).
A single potato contains about 30 grams of starch.
Even though starchy foods bring a high amount of energy and nutrients to our diet and fiber and carbohydrates, potatoes contain low calories, which means they cannot keep you satiated for long.
Potatoes are often cooked with unhealthy ingredients like butter, cream, and salt, making many people think they are bad for their health.
If included healthily, potatoes can become a regular part of your diet, an excellent source of antioxidants, vitamins, fiber, and starch.
Potatoes belong to the Solanaceae family, and legumes belong to the Fabaceae family (2,3). While they are dicotyledonous plants and have a taproot system, they differ in their number of carpels and the fruit they bear.
Fabaceae, called the legume family, bears a pod or legume at its fruit.
Solanaceae is a potato family and bears berries and capsules as their fruits. The fruit of a legume family produces edible seeds, while you cannot eat the fruit, flower, or seeds of a potato plant.
Are Potatoes Legumes or Tubers?
Potatoes are not related or similar to legumes.
While legumes are fruits of the Fabaceae family, potatoes are enlarged tubers or underground stems of the Solanaceae family.
Legumes have special growths on their roots that take part in nitrogen fixation. Bacteria live on these nodules and take the free and inert nitrogen from the air, converting it into NH₃, which the plant then absorbs.
This is a symbiotic relationship between the soil-dwelling bacteria and the plant.
The plant provides carbohydrates to this bacteria, which fixes the gaseous nitrogen and feeds it to the legumes.
The edible part of a potato plant is its underground stem, called a tuber (4). Tubers are enlarged storage portions of these plants and contain nodes or buds all over their surface.
Potato is a starchy tuber and mainly grows underground.
The swollen part of the stem, which is present underground, is used for starch storage, which is why potatoes are primarily composed of high amounts of carbohydrates.
Like other plants, potato plants bloom and give rise to flowers at the end of their growing season. The flowers turn into small, green tomato-like fruits of the plant, but usually, the flowers do not produce fruit and fall from the plant after drying out.
If the weather conditions allow it, the small round seed pods or potato berries produce true potato seeds.
Legume plants, on the other hand, produce edible seeds, which are known as pulses. The legume is a plant from the Fabaceae family with stems, leaves, and pods.
The pods contain edible seeds, called pulses, such as beans, peas, and lentils. A pea pod on a legume contains peas inside, which are pulses.
What Is a Potato Classified As?
Potato is a starchy vegetable.
It is different from other vegetables due to its high carbohydrate content. Any edible part of a plant that can be eaten as a meal is considered a vegetable.
Potatoes are considered root vegetables, as they grow off the roots of a potato plant.
Potato is an edible underground part of a potato plant and doesn’t contain seeds. The flowers or fruit of a potato plant are not edible, and only the starchy and savory underground tuber can be used as a vegetable.
As we already mentioned, potato plants belong to the Solanaceae family, also called the nightshade family, and include eggplants, peppers, tomatoes, tobacco, and potatoes.
The Solanaceae family has a taproot system and erect or climbing stems.
The edible plant species bear eggplants, potatoes, and tomatoes, and the Solanaceae family is also an excellent source of medicinal products like atropine, hyoscine, alkaloids, and nicotine (5).
Potatoes are considered a key dietary supplement worldwide and are popular for providing enough calories to let you live on them exclusively (6).
Potatoes can be stored for many months and are easy to grow.
Types of Legumes
Legumes are highly versatile foods that taste delicious and provide a rich supply of proteins in your diet. The plant-based proteins offer an excellent opportunity to replace meat from your diet.
Legumes contain health-boosting ingredients and are rich in protein, fiber, and starch, which help to regulate blood sugar and fight several diseases.
There are more than 16000 varieties of legumes, but 6 types of legumes are likely to appear in your meals.
Chickpeas can be added to salads and are famous for their creamy, buttery profile. They are powerhouses of dietary fibers and plant-based proteins and play well with spices and other herbs to boast their rich flavors.
2. Green Peas
Green peas are rich in antioxidants and many vitamins, and they can be pureed or tossed in their original form in different meals and salads (7).
Their sweet and fresh flavor profile makes them highly versatile in various dishes.
3. Black Beans
Due to their creamy, soft, and flavorful texture, black beans are added to several dishes, including burritos or rice. Black beans are a rich source of dietary fiber and a Latin American cuisine staple food (8).
4. Kidney Beans
Kidney beans resemble the kidney organ, and flavorful beans are rich in minerals, vitamins, and fiber. They can be added to soups and stews due to their sweet taste and meaty texture.
There are wide varieties of lentils, all of which have different cooking requirements. Lentils have an impressive nutritional profile as they are an excellent source of vitamins, iron, potassium, magnesium, and plenty of fiber.
6. Black Eyed Peas
Black eyes peas are delicious legume beans that can contribute a delightful flavor to any dish due to their dense and creamy texture. Black eyes peas are used in salads and casseroles and are packed with fiber and proteins.
Are Sweet Potatoes Considered Legumes?
Sweet potatoes belong to a family different from potatoes, the morning glory family.
Regular potatoes belong to the potato family. While regular potatoes have white or yellowish flesh, sweet potatoes have orange innards. Potatoes are tubers, but sweet potatoes are considered root vegetables.
Even though both grow underground, they are very different in their nutrition, taste, and density.
Sweet potatoes are considered healthier than regular potatoes and contain more vitamin A. However, just like regular potatoes, sweet potatoes are unrelated to legumes.
Why Do People Confuse Potatoes With Legumes?
Many weight loss trends involve increasing the amount of plant-based protein in our diets, mainly from legumes.
It is also recommended that carbohydrate consumption is reduced. As potatoes are chief ingredients in many meals we prepare, this concept led to people wondering whether potatoes are legumes.
While legumes are rich in plant-based protein, potatoes are primarily classified as healthy carbohydrates as they contain high carbs and low amounts of proteins and fibers (9).
Both potatoes and legumes are starchy vegetables but have vast differences in their nutritional content, protein, and dietary fiber makeup.
Both legumes and potatoes are cooked with additional spices, oils, and herbs. While potatoes are often converted into an unhealthy meal by loading them with butter, creams, or salts, legumes are usually cooked more healthily by boiling and soaking them.
Even though potatoes are in no way considered legumes, they both are considered starchy vegetables and provide your body with high amounts of energy, vitamins, and minerals.
A healthy diet consists of an average amount of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals, so it is as wise to eat legumes as potatoes, and eliminating one vegetable from your diet will only result in more complications and deficiencies.
Potato and Legumes FAQs
Do Potatoes Help in Reducing Weight?
Potatoes are filling and low-calorie vegetables that we can include in our diet if we are trying to lose weight. Just be careful not to cook those using unhealthy additives like butter and cream.
What Are Legumes Rich In?
Legumes contain low fats, no cholesterol, and high amounts of protein, potassium, iron, dietary fiber, and magnesium. Most importantly, legumes are the healthiest substitute for meat-based proteins, which can add fats and cholesterols to your diet.
Can I Only Live on Potatoes?
Potatoes can sustain human life by providing the required proteins for cell repair and disease prevention. Still, a person living on potatoes alone will eventually face deficiencies in minerals and vitamins.
Which Legume Has the Highest Protein Makeup?
Fava beans contain 26 grams of protein per 100 grams and are considered the legume containing the highest amounts of proteins. They also aid a person in losing weight and boost your body’s immune system.
Should I Cut Potatoes Before Boiling Them?
Potatoes cook or boil more easily if you cut them into pieces first. The smaller the potato pieces are, the easier and faster they will cook.
What Will Happen if I Eat Legumes?
Legumes will reduce your risks of cardiovascular diseases and control your blood pressure and cholesterol levels.