Legumes (or pulses) are known to be real health boosters and (surprise!) they are widely consumed in Crete. Legumes are great sources of fiber, protein, iron, phosphorus, zinc, calcium and magnesium, while being low in calories and having a low glycaemic index (good for blood sugar levels). They also contain significant amounts of folate, antioxidants and B-group vitamins. They are great alternative to meat, as they contain the necessary protein and minerals without the detrimental saturated fats. Therefore, consuming legumes lowers cholesterol levels (legumes are cholesterol free) greatly and reduces the risk of heart diseases and diabetes, while providing the necessary energy.
Examples of legumes widely consumed in various forms by Cretans are: fresh pinto beans (“barbounofasoula”), dried white kidney beans (“fasolia xera”), broad beans (“koukia”), chickpeas (“revithia”), brown lentils (“fakes”) and butter beans (“gigantes”).