The benefits of pulses are limitless, yet barely optimized. Isn’t this ironic given that nearly everyone is suffering a disease or two these days? Ordinarily, one would think that we’d take advantage of the excellent health benefits of plants around us, but that is hardly the case.
Let’s take a quick look at history. Pulses have been a significant part of the Middle Eastern diet for over 10 000 years. The WHO, recognizing these foods' vast benefits, tagged 2016 as the “International Year of Pulses.” This was basically to see that we started to eat more of these superfoods.
In case you wonder why, it’s because pulses are extremely nutritious, highly affordable, and supportive to the environment. So, to mother Earth, the farmers, and the consumers, it’s a win-win situation. So, why not?
What Are Pulses?
Contrary to what may have been on your mind, pulses are edible seeds growing in pods, such as lentils, beans, and peas, so they belong to the legume family. The term “pulses” is, however, solely used for plants harvested only as dry grains. That is, they are not harvested as leaves or anything else apart from dry grains.
Thus, the difference between legumes and pulses is that while the former refers solely to the edible seeds of a pod plant, legumes may refer to any part of the said plant. The nutritional value of pulses is unarguable. Throw in the fact that they live very long on the shelf and cost so little, and you may understand why they are one of your finest sources of soluble & insoluble fiber, plant-based protein, and essential vitamins & minerals.
Studies associate pulses to food cultures that have existed for a very long time, for example, the Mediterranean, Japanese and Swedish cuisines, all of which have great health contributions.
Most Common Examples Of Pulses
As already said, pulses belong to the legume family, and they include peas, chickpeas, dried beans, and lentils. However, there are many other examples of pulses grown all over the world. Let us look at the ones you’re most likely to come across on your voyage through the world.
Okay, here we go:
- Bambara beans
- Black-eyed peas
- Borlotti beans
- Butter beans OR lima beans
- Cannellini beans
- Fava beans
- Kidney beans
- Garden peas
- Navy beans
- Pinto beans
- Lentils (green, red, yellow & brown)
- Lupin bean
Nutrition Facts On Pulses
Pulses are abundant in macronutrients & micro nutrients and are therefore an excellent inclusion to your diet. They are generally rich sources of the following nutrients:
- complex carbohydrates
- vitamin B6
Pulses are also great sources of antioxidants, and you’d find more phenolic content in the dark-pigmented seeds than the light-colored varieties. Studies have established that these compounds inhibit the scavengers' spread, free radicals, which are cancer-causing elements. In addition to its cancer-limiting properties, antioxidants also strengthen the immune system and improve mental health.
5 Healthy Benefits Of Pulses
So, pulses are rich in nutrients, what benefits can we get from regular consumption? Let’s see.
Rich Source of Fiber
You may or may not know: pulses are rich in fibers, but what is its significance? Well, to be concise, fibrous foods have been found to regulate blood sugar levels, foster satiety, and promote regularity in body composition.
As a result of the fiber content, the benefits of pulses include the ability to improve cardiovascular health. Historical stats and current studies both agree that rich sources of insoluble fiber are linked with reduced risk of heart diseases. As such, it is believed that eating insoluble fiber regularly will ensure that you rarely develop heart complications.
As said before, pulses are rich in fiber. They are therefore recommended if you want to reduce food intake because they satiate you quickly enough. They fill the stomach even if what you take is little. By adding these edible seeds to sautéed veggies or salads, you increase your protein and fiber intake considerably without increasing calorie intake. That’s a win-win.
Lowers the Risk of Diabetes
A recent meta-analysis of a chain of publications in the Canadian Journal of Diabetes revealed that there’s excellent evidence supporting the contribution of pulses to improved weight management and heart health and the avoidance of type 2 diabetes.
According to the reports, the regular consumption of pulses plays a major role in satiety, thus limiting food intake and managing body weight. This reaction lowers the risk of obesity, which, in turn, enhances the management of diabetes.
Several other studies are emphasizing this role of pulses, although this benefit isn’t limited to them. Some veggies are also highly fibrous and can satiate easily.
Rich Source of Iron
Lentils, chickpeas, and other pulses are rich in iron, a nutrient that fortifies cognitive function, strengthens the immune system, and propagates positive emotions, thus battling anxiety and depression.
Studies reveal that the risk of iron deficiency increases in female adolescents as iron is lost in the monthly loss of blood, just at the time when it is most required for rapid growth. So, it’s a case of increased cause for demand but reduced supply. As such, your female teens should eat peas, lentils, and beans more often, particularly if they do not eat meat.
There are suggestions that meat can no longer be the only protein source due to the constantly surging population. Having other protein sources apart from meat will put an end to unhealthy rearing practices such as antibiotics injecting. Pulses are good sources of protein, they are becoming more popular for their plant-based protein. After all, both forms of protein perform similar functions.
Also, pulses contain about 21–25% protein, so they are a great addition to vegans and vegetarians' diets.
Concluding The Benefits of Pulses
The benefits of pulses extend past health improvements. They promote sustainable farming and encourage food security. For all of their remarkable health contributions, pulses cost very little and are widely available. So, there is no reason not to have them on your diet, even if you are a pure vegan.