Botanically, beans are legumes, as they are fruits that grow in pods. In terms of nutrition, however, they can fit into both the vegetable and protein food groups.
Commonly available legumes include black beans, black-eyed peas, chickpeas, kidney beans, lima beans, pinto beans, lentils and split peas. As they are rich in dietary fiber, folate and potassium, these beans can fit into a balanced diet as vegetables. Because they are also good sources of plant protein, iron and zinc, they are also members of the protein food group. Many vegetarian and vegan diets rely on legumes as protein-rich alternatives to fish, meat and poultry.