Legumes are found in two food groups according to the USDA: the vegetable group and the meat and beans group. Legumes are the seedpod (or fruit) of various beans and peas, the most popular being peanuts, alfalfa and asparagus.
Protein-rich legumes are vegetables that offer a good source of essential protein to individuals who don't eat meat, fish and eggs and additional protein to those who do. They are also counted in the meat and beans group — foods that supply protein. They offer the benefits of foods in the vegetable foods (low fat and high fiber) to those who do get their protein from meat, fish and eggs.
Depending on dietary habits, people can choose where best to apply the legumes' nutritional benefits to get the most nutritional impact.