Pulses are a low fat source of protein with
high levels of protein and fibre. Pulses also
contain important vitamins and minerals
like iron, potassium and folate.
Most national dietary guidelines
recommend pulses as part of a healthy
diet. Studies have shown that people
who eat at least ½ cup of pulses per
day have higher intakes of fibre, protein,
calcium, potassium, folate, zinc, iron, and
magnesium as well as lower intakes of
total and saturated fat
Many diets around the world rely on
pulses as a source of protein. The amount
of protein in beans, lentils, chickpeas and
peas is 2-3 times the levels found in cereal
grains like wheat, rice, quinoa, oats,
barley, and corn. For example, eating
just ½ cup of lentils provides the same
amount of protein as 1 cup of quinoa or 2
cups of rice or corn. Compared to animal
and many other plant-based sources of
protein, pulses are a more affordable and
sustainable protein source.
All proteins are created from twenty
different amino acid building blocks. Nine
of these amino acids cannot be produced
by the body and are called "essential"
because they must come from foods we
eat. Most plant proteins lack at least one
essential amino acid. However, when two
or more plant-based sources of protein
are combined, each food can provide
the essential amino acid(s) that the
complementary food(s) is missing. Eating
protein from a variety of sources, from
both plant and animal sources, ensures
the body receives all of the essential
amino acids necessary for good health.
One cup of cooked pulses gives
you more than half the amount of fibre
you need for the entire day. Pulses also
contain both soluble and insoluble fibre.
Soluble fibre can help manage body
weight, blood sugar levels and lower
cholesterol. Insoluble fibre on the other
hand, assists with digestion and regularity.
Pulses also contain resistant starch, a type
of carbohydrate that behaves like fibre
in the body; and has been shown have
similar health benefits such as reduced
circulating cholesterol and blood sugar
levels as well as improved gut health.
The nutritional content of pulses
Left and below: Cranberry
beans growing and being
harvested in Italy.
BELOW Veggie bean stew
from Dumuth cookery school,
Bristol. Click on the image
to download the recipe. See
overleaf for a recipe for a
meaty stew with lima beans