2016 is the official International Year of the Pulse, according to the United Nations. And unofficially, pulses are now in the spotlight in the world of agriculture, food and nutrition, though they have been around for many years. Pulses are peas, beans, chickpeas and lentils. Nutritionally, pulses are a staple for many, and play a huge role in many different cuisines.
This is a food trend that I hope sticks around for awhile. Here are just a few reasons why we should make more time for pulses in our lives:
High in fibre: Did you know? Just 1/2 cup of chickpeas provides approximately 1/3 of your daily fiber recommendations! Besides contributing to gastrointestinal health by keeping us “regular,” fibre has many other health benefits. Notably, high intake of fibre is associated with lower blood cholesterol levels and protection against developing colon cancer and Type 2 diabetes.
Source of protein: Pulses are great sources of protein, and are a staple protein source in vegetarian and vegan diets. A ½ cup serving of dry lentils provides about 26 grams of protein, which is about the same amount of protein in 3 oz of chicken. The combination of protein and fibre in lentils will keep you full for hours!
Vitamins & minerals: Pulses provide substantial amounts of vitamins and minerals in a relatively low amount of calories. Some of the key minerals in pulses include iron, potassium, magnesium and zinc. Pulses are also particularly abundant in B vitamins including folate, thiamin and niacin.
Low glycemic index: Though lentils contain starch (which raises blood sugars), they contain so much fibre, that they have a very moderate effect on blood sugars.
Affordable: Both dried and canned beans are very inexpensive. For example, one 19 oz can of chickpeas costs anywhere from $0.90 to $2.00 at most stores. And with the rising cost of food, pulses make it affordable to eat healthy.
Store well: Both canned and dried pulses can last for months to years.
Environmentally friendly: “From greenhouse gas emissions, to water use, to soil health, pulse crops contribute to decreasing the environmental footprint of agriculture.” – Pulse Canada
Lastly, pulses are incredibly versatile. Read on to find out how pulses can fit into so many dishes, some of which you may have never heard of. Challenge yourself to eat more pulses this year!