If you’ve ever had a black bean burrito, dipped a cracker in some hummus, or sipped split pea soup, you’ve eaten a pulse. Pulses is an umbrella term referring to many species of dry beans (excluding soybeans), dry peas, chickpeas, and lentils.
Growing pulses contributes to food security, biodiversity, and helps reduce the impacts of climate change. Pulses are also packed with nutrients that contribute to your personal health.
Read on to find out more about their nutrition benefits and how you can incorporate pulses in your meals!
Here are the top five reasons to include pulses in your meals:
1. Helps Improve Blood Lipid Profile
Have you been told that you have elevated triglycerides, total cholesterol or LDL-cholesterol? Pulses can help you lower these numbers. A growing number of studies support that eating about 150 g (~3/4 cup) of cooked pulses a day can make a difference. Researchers pooled together the results from ten small randomized control trials studying the effects of pulses on blood lipids. They found that participants who ate ~150 g of pulses had lower triglycerides, total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol compared to those who ate wheat-based foods or canned vegetables.
2. A Natural Source of Vitamins and Minerals
Pulses contain many vitamins and minerals that contribute to health maintenance across the lifespan. These include: iron, folate, magnesium, and zinc.
3. Helps Maintain Regular Blood Sugar Levels
Although pulses are high in carbohydrates, they are still recommended for people with diabetes. This is because pulses are also high in protein and fibre. These nutrients slow down the breakdown of carbohydrates into sugar, and helps prevent blood sugar spikes. Research shows that consistently eating about 5 cups of pulses a week can help improve glycemic control.
4. An Excellent Source of Protein
Protein is essential for making hormones and enzymes, maintaining healthy skin, and building muscles . Pulses contain about 11-13g of protein per 175 mL serving. For comparison, the same volume of cooked quinoa contains about 6g of protein, cooked chicken has about 30g, and yogurt has about 7g.
5. Explore New Dishes and Cuisines
Exploring pulses is an excellent way to try new recipes and add variety to your meals. There is a rich tradition of using pulses in many places in the world. Why not try dahl from India, falafels from the Mediterranean, or a rice and beans recipe from South America?
You can also add chickpeas to help thicken up a breakfast smoothie, toss kidney beans on top of a salad for lunch, and substitute red lentils for the red meat in burgers, meatloaf, and pasta sauce at dinner.
To sum up, adding pulses to your diet can help spice up your meals, and potentially add years to your life. There are many nutrients in pulses that contribute to your overall well-being.
Studies have shown the benefits of regularly eating ¾ cups of pulses a day for heart health and blood sugar regulation. Reap the benefits of pulses today by including beans, chickpeas, dry beans, and lentils on your table.
Do you already use pulses in your meals? If so, which ones? If not, why not? We’d love to hear your comments.
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