The United Nations declared 2016 International Year of Pulses. Beans, lentils, peas, and chickpeas have been part of the food basket for centuries, because people around the world recognize their appeal as nutritious, versatile foods that can play an essential part in healthy diets.
With about 40% of global pulse production, Canada is a world leader, but only 2% of its production is actually consumed by Canadians, the rest is either exported or used for livestock feed.
Now is a great opportunity to give this crop the attention it deserves.
Pulses are part of the legume family. The term ‘legume’ refers to the plants whose fruit is enclosed in a pod, but the term ‘pulse’ refers only to the dried seed. Examples are lentils, chickpeas, pinto beans, kidney beans, and many more. The term ‘pulse’ comes from the Latin word puls, meaning a thick soup.
Pulses provide a vital source of plant-based proteins and amino acids for people around the globe, ensuring food security, mostly in Africa, Asia, and South America.
Pulses are great for the environment because they use less water than other protein sources, making them a sustainable agricultural choice. They have a good relationship with soil microbes that leads to an increase in nitrogen in the soil after harvest, which reduces the need for chemical fertilizers and increases soil fertility.
Pulses are rich in vitamins, minerals, and soluble fibre, which is beneficial for cardiovascular health and maintaining good stool form. They have a low Glycemic Index, which is ideal for making you feel fuller for longer and helping to manage diabetes.
Last, but not least, pulses are inexpensive. With food prices – especially meat prices – rising, incorporating more pulses into your diet will help keep your grocery bill low without sacrificing nutrition.
In brief, they are a must on your plate!