So, what are pulses? Pulses are part of the legume family; they are the dried seed of the legume plants. Pulses come in many shapes, sizes and colours such as lentils, chickpeas, black beans and kidney beans to name a few. They are full of so many health benefits and environmentally friendly.
“pulse crops such as lentils, beans, peas and chickpeas are a critical source of plant-based proteins and amino acids for people around the globe, as well as a source of plant-based protein for animals”~ United Nations International Year of Pulses.
Health Benefits of Pulses (Beans and Lentils)
- Helps Reduce Risk of Cancer Especially of Colon Cancer
Several cancers including the upper digestive tract, stomach, colon, rectum, and kidneys were found to decrease with a higher consumption of beans and lentils according to a Uruguay study between 1996 and 2004.
In three other studies with 101,856 participants it was found that a higher consumption of legumes reduced the risk of colorectal adenoma.
- Helps with Weight Loss
Consumers of beans had healthier nutrient consumption levels, were less overweight and had 22% reduced risk of being obese and lower compared to non-consumers in a survey between 1999 – 2002.
Also, it was found that one serving of beans per day helped with weight loss in clinical trials with 940 participants at St. Michael’s Hospital, Toronto.
- Lowers Risk of Heart Attack
Pulses are a heart healthy food according to Pulse Canada. Results from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) Follow-up study indicate that men and women who consumed legumes 4 or more times per week had a 22% reduction in heart disease risk, compared with those who consumed legumes less than once a week.
In a 25 year study with 16,000 middle-aged men in a number of countries, it was found that those who ate more legumes had 82% reduced a risk of heart attack.
- Improves Glycemic Index for diabetics
It was found in a study that adding beans and whole grains in the diet of diabetics there was an improvement in their glycemic index. Also, in another study, it was found that whole grain and legume powder reduced need for insulin in patients with coronary artery disease. Many Canadian dietitians recommend eating beans to individuals with diabetes.
- Filled with Good Protein
Wondering how to replace meat in your menu, add beans or lentils. They are a good source of protein, and when combined with a whole grain such as brown rice or millet they provide a complete source of protein without saturated fat. Beans have the highest protein content of all plant foods.
Pulses provide about 10% of the total food protein consumed in the world and have about twice the protein content of most grains. Learn more about: Protein Quality of Cooked Pulses.
- Full of Healthy Fiber
Pulses are a food high in soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber binds with bile (which contains cholesterol) in the digestive tract carrying it out of the body. A diet with fiber helps with lowering body weight according to research. Blood sugar levels can be stabilized with a high fiber diet according to research.
Why to Include Pulses in Our Diet:
- High in protein – 1/2 cup (4 ounces) of cooked beans is equivalent to eating two ounces of lean protein. The guidelines recommend that most adults eat about 5 1/2 ounces of lean meat a day.
- Lots of fibre – ½ cup serving of cooked dry beans has 4 to 10 grams of fibre.
- Rich in complex carbohydrates.
- Contain iron, zinc, calcium, selenium and folate.
- Rich in antioxidants.
- Low in fat.
- Provide a low glycemic index.
Take the Pulse Pledge! Commit to eating pulses once a week for 10 weeks and join a global food movement.
Here are a few recipes to help you eat pulses every week: