Extensive research has proven that fruits and vegetables contribute significantly to the body supply of bioactive compounds due to their antioxidant activity to protect organisms against harmful effects of oxygen radicals. A special case is the legumes that are also rich source of proteins, dietary fiber, micronutrients, and bioactive phytochemicals. Many legume species are still an irreplaceable source of dietary proteins for humans, especially in the mainly vegetarian diets of developing countries. Incorporation of leguminous seeds into the human diet can offer protective effects against chronic diseases because they contain a number of bioactive substances including phenolics that can increase protein digestibility and mineral bioavailability. However, technological processing and seed germination can impact the levels of natural endogenous antioxidants (e.g., phenolics, tocopherols; vitamin C) in leguminous seeds. Therefore, this chapter is a review about reports of antioxidant properties and their relationship with their total phenolic content of the most commonly consumed legumes. Researches about changes in the content of natural antioxidants during technological processing are included as well as some clinical reports concerning to the health benefits offered by legumes of higher consumption.
Part of the book: Grain Legumes