Luscious Nutritious Legumes

lentils and legumes

Legumes are a significant source of protein, dietary fibre, carbohydrates and dietary minerals including folate and manganese. They contain no cholesterol and little fat. The protein of food legumes is a rich source of the amino acids lysine and tryptophan but is relatively low in sulphur amino acids such as methionine which is why it is necessary to add a supplement to your dog’s homemade food. They are also delicious and dogs are naturally drawn to eating lentils as they can smell every amino acid in the legumes.

Legumes have been cultivated by humans going back thousands of years, with dry pea seeds having been discovered in a Swiss village that are believed to date back to the Stone Age. As our dogs have been companions of humans for about that long, they would also have been eating legumes for thousands of years!

 

Are legumes environmentally friendly?

Rice is shown to be more damaging to the environment than legumes (13. Rice agriculture accelerates global warming: More greenhouse gas per grain of rice – Trinity College Dublin – 2012). Legumes are very different to rice, as they fix atmospheric nitrogen and release high-quality organic matter in the soil. They are the soils natural ‘fertilisers’ and a bonus to grow further life-giving plants to feed us and our pets.

 

What are the concerns about feeding lentils and legumes?

There have been plenty of articles written highlighting the possible effects of dilated cardiomyopathy in dogs fed on a plant-based diet specifically high in lentils or legumes as the protein source. The articles are very non-conclusive as to the exact cause of heart disease in dogs being fed ‘alternative diets’ but we do know that phytic acid, or phytate, is an antioxidant found in all edible plant seeds, including legumes.

It impairs the absorption of iron, zinc, and calcium from your pet’s food and may increase the risk of mineral deficiencies in dogs who rely on legumes or other high-phytate foods as their main protein source.

For this very reason, it is so important to supplement your dog’s diet with added Zinc, Methionine, Taurine, l-Carnitine and Vit B12 and D3 to ensure that there are no deficiencies in your dog’s homemade diet.

It is also always recommended that you soak any dry lentils that you feed to your dog for 24 hours prior to cooking and rinse them well to reduce the phytates.

One of our recipes in the Green Paws Challenge uses sprouted lentils rather than purely soaked lentils as it has been shown that sprouting the lentils also reduces the amounts of phytates. We also add sprouts and a sprouting jar to the Green Paws Challenge as they are super-easy to grow and so nutritious!

We do feel however that the high nutrient content of legumes must not be overlooked, and they are a highly nutritious source of protein and minerals for our homefed dogs (and very reasonably priced!).

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