Take the Pulse Pledge now

International Year of Pulses (IYP 2016)

International Year of Pulses (IYP 2016)

 

If you haven’t heard the news yet,  2016 has been declared by the Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations to be the International Year of Pulses (IYP). And it couldn’t come at a better time.

I’ve been urging readers to take their pulses for decades but the message has gone mainstream for a number of reasons.   The main one deals with health – both human health and that of our planet.   But first, a little about pulses and legumes so we get the terminology straight.

Legumes are any plant species that have seed pods that split when they’re ripe.  Green beans, fresh peas along with lentils, kidney beans and soybeans are all part of this family. Even alfalfa and   peanuts, which are most often thought of as a nut, are members of the legume family.    Pulses, from a  Latin word that means  thick soup,  are the edible seeds of leguminous vegetables.  Crops like alfalfa, where the leaves are used for feed, are not considered pulses yet they are legumes.

Pulses have been a traditional staple the world over as they are an inexpensive source of protein.  In many cultures, meat and other animal protein foods were not eaten on a daily basis. They were reserved for special occasions and even then, portions were meagre.  As people became more affluent, animal foods became more common – a sure  sign of success – and    pasta with beans, for example, gave way to pasta with giant-sized meatballs. Festive fare became the everyday choice and a way to  demonstrate affluence.  With this change in diet came a  host of lifestyle-related illnesses.  One way to stem the tide of disease,  according to accumulating research,  is to elevate  pulses’ status.

Here are just 6 reasons to eat pulses for the health of it:

•     Pulses are a super source of protein, making them an ideal choice for meatless meals.

•    Pulses are chock full of fibre, a nutrient we’re woefully short on.  For example, a mere 1/2 cup of lentils supplies 8 grams of fibre- more than 1/4 of your daily quota. As they’re gluten-free, they’re a simply way for those with gluten intolerance  and who can’t eat many grains, to meet fibre needs.

•    Pulses’ fibre offers a blood cholesterol lowering punch.

•    Pulses supply health perks for both prevention and treatment of diabetes. Their fibre not only helps to regulate blood sugar but pulses also increase insulin sensitivity (which makes the hormone more effective in regulating blood sugar readings).

•    They’re also low in fat, especially saturated fat.

•    Pulses are nutrient  packed offering minerals (iron, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, zinc) and B-vitamins (thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, B6, and folate).  In fact, the amount of potassium contained helps to defend against high  blood pressure.

Take the Pulse Pledge and get pulses on your menu at least once a week for ten weeks.  It’s a new year’s resolution that’s healthy for you and the planet. By signing up,   you’ll receive a  weekly newsletter with simple recipes and quick tips for making pulses part of your routine

Up next:  Pulses are a new culinary star and why they’re healthy for the planet.

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Categories: Food Security, Food Trends, Nutrition News, Research Roundup, Whole Foods

Author:Rosie Schwartz

Rosie Schwartz is a Toronto-based consulting dietitian and writer.

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2 Comments on “Take the Pulse Pledge now”

  1. January 14, 2016 at 3:10 pm #

    Haha….no pledge needed here! My problem is I love beans and lentils so much that I need to be careful about eating them too often, not that they cause any digestive problems, just that they are carbs and I’m trying to moderate my carb intake, as well as generally eat less now that I’m in my 70’s. There’s just something so satisfying, though, about a bean or chickpea salad or a lentil soup or a lentil shepherd’s pie or….etc. Always hits the spot! Love supporting Canadian pulse growers though: awesomeness for sure!

    • January 15, 2016 at 11:12 am #

      When it comes to carbs, pulses are definitely one of the best options, Jean! Research shows they play a major role in making you feel full and helping you eat less as well as control your weight more easily. So go ahead and enjoy!

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