If you’re interested in health and fitness or follow a plant-based diet, you’ve probably heard of pulses or may already be consuming them whether you’re aware of it or not. Read on to discover more about what pulses are, the role they play in our diet and why they’re considered to be a fantastic source of nutrition.
So, what are pulses?
Pulses are a strand of the legume family (legumes are plants that grow in pods), specifically they are the seed part of legumes. This means pulses are mainly comprised of lentils, beans and peas.
Here is a short list of some example pulses:
- Dry beans
- Faba Beans
- Bambara beans
- Pigeon peas
Why are they so great? What are the benefits of pulses?
In short, there are a ton of essential nutrients packed into pulses and are therefore considered to be an incredibly positive addition to a healthy diet. Here are the main reasons why pulses pack such a nutritional punch.
They’re full of protein
Pulses are a fantastic plant-based source of protein making it an especially important food for vegans and vital for maintaining a healthy vegan diet. You’ll find roughly 15g of protein in a cup of pulses. They’re celebrated for being a low-fat type of protein especially when compared to other sources such as meat, fish and certain types of nuts. Explore more vegan sources of protein here.
They’re rich in fibre
Fibre is a key part of a healthy and balanced diet. Pulses are regarded as a strong source of fibre due to the presence of both soluble and insoluble fibre. Here’s a quick definition of both types:
- Soluble fibre – helps to control blood sugar levels, body weight and lower cholesterol.
- Insoluble fibre – helps digestion and regulation of the digestive system
This means it’s not only beneficial to heart health but it makes positive contributions to gut-health, too.
They’re a strong source of folate
Folate is a B vitamin which is required for the production and maintenance of new cells making it an especially important nutrient for growth. The presence of folate in pulses means the ingredient is a beneficial addition to diets for children and pregnant women.
Pulses also have a valuable impact on the environment and provide fantastic inspiration in the kitchen, too.
They’re friendly to the environment
Nitrogen-rich soil is required in order for crops to successfully grow. Pulses are a nitrogen-fixing plant and therefore make significantly less impact on the environment due to their natural ability to grow without the help of fertilizers or pesticides. In fact, they increase the presence of nitrogen in the soil leaving a healthy patch for new crops to grow and thrive.
They’re versatile as a cooking ingredient