2016: Year of Pulses

As many of you may know, the United Nations (UN) has declared 2016 to be the International Year of Pulses! We’ve all heard the term ‘pulse’, but generally we associate it with our heartbeat. If you are wondering what pulses are, along with the health benefits of eating pulses, here’s a read for you!

What Are Pulses? 

Pulses, which include dried peas, beans, chickpeas and lentils, are the edible seeds of the legume family. They grow in pods and come in a variety of sizes, colours and shapes. Aside from being packed with nutrition, pulses also contribute to sustainable agriculture as they use less water than other crops, and improve soil health. The UN has dedicated 2016 to nutritious and delicious pulses – will you do the same?

Why Should You Eat Pulses? 

Pulses, which are rich in fibre and low in fat, are also a fantastic source of complex carbohydrates and plant-based protein, making them a healthy option as both a meat and starch alternative. They also provide an excellent source of iron, folate and potassium- minerals that are required for our bodies to function properly. Due to their health benefits, pulses are an excellent food choice for Canadians alike, as they have been proven to help prevent and manage chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer and obesity. In addition, pulses store well and are inexpensive, making them easy to incorporate into your diet.

Nutritional value of 1 cup (200 g) of cooked pulses:

  • 17 grams of protein
  • 2 grams of fat
  • 9 grams of fibre
  • 25% of iron needs
  • 70% of recommended folate intake
  • 15% of daily potassium requirements

The Wonders of How to Enjoy Them

 The versatile quality of pulses makes them easy to incorporate into your favourite meals- they can be used in sauces, soups, stews, salads and even baking. Yes, baking! Pulses can also be used to replace meat in any recipe, providing you with a vegetarian option. Beans, whole peas and chickpeas must be soaked prior to cooking, while lentils and split peas do not need to be soaked. Pulses can be cooked on the stovetop, slower cooker or in the oven. For a more convenient option, you can use canned pulses. Simply rinse them before adding to your dish. Click here more information on pulses and how to prepare them. 

Did You Know That… 

Pulses were first discovered in the Fertile Crescent 11,000 years ago, which is an area in the Middle East where some of the earliest civilizations began. Today, hundreds of varieties of pulses are grown in 173 different countries around the world and used for food and feed. In Canada, the provinces of Quebec, Manitoba and Ontario produce beans, while Saskatchewan primarily produces lentils, chickpeas and peas. Alberta produces a variety of beans, chickpeas, peas and lentils.