The significance of pulses as a worldwide food source has been recognized with the designation of a special day by the United Nations: World Pulses Day. Since 2019, when the United Nations General Assembly declared it on December 20, 2018, it has been celebrated annually on February 10.
It is known that some of the first human civilizations consumed pulses in the Middle East more than 11,000 years ago.
Pulses are a valuable part of a healthy diet and have been shown to lower the risk of developing certain illnesses. Pulses are highly recommended by groups concerned with diabetes, heart health, and cancer as part of a balanced, plant-based diet.
What Are Pulses?
Pulses, from the plant family Leguminosae, are a source of nutritious and delicious seeds. Pulses are legumes that develop in pods and vary in size, colour, and form. Dry beans, dry broad beans, dry peas, chickpeas, cow peas, pigeon peas, lentils, Bambara beans, vetches, lupins, and pulses nes (not elsewhere specified - minor pulses that don't fall into one of the other categories) are all considered pulses by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
The macro and micronutrient content of pulses make them a valuable food choice. For the most part, they are reliable in providing:
The phenolic content of dark-pigmented cultivars of pulses is higher than that of light-colored seeds. These compounds have been shown to be effective in scavenging free oxygen radicals, which may contribute to chronic illness and hence are considered disease prevention.
So, why pulses are becoming more popular in the health industry?
Good for Your Heart
According to the Linus Pauling Institute, a diet that includes more pulses may help reduce the chance of developing cardiovascular disease. The dietary fiber content of pulses is very impressive. A serving of cooked lentils, for instance, provides more than 15 g of fiber, or around 60% of the daily intake. Pulses' dietary fiber may be beneficial to heart health by reducing cholesterol. Additionally, the potassium content in pulses is rather high. By neutralizing the effects of sodium, the addition of potassium-rich meals may help reduce blood pressure.
High in Protein
Healthy and affordable protein may be found in pulses. The protein in most pulses is incomplete because it lacks some of the required amino acids. But if you eat a wide variety of grains and vegetables, you can probably receive all the amino acids you need. In contrast to other plant meals, soybeans are a complete source of protein like meat since they contain all nine necessary amino acids. Cooked soybeans provide 26 grams of protein per cup, whereas a three-ounce dish of chicken has just 24 grams.
Good Source of Folate
Pulses are rich in B vitamin folate, which is essential for the development and survival of new cells. During times of fast development, including pregnancy and childhood, folic acid is crucial. In order to reduce the likelihood of having a child born with a neural tube abnormality, it is important for women of reproductive age to consume sufficient amounts of folate. The levels of folate in various types of pulses are variable. Black-eyed peas provide 105 mcg of folate per 1/2 cup serving, whereas great northern beans have 90 mcg per 1/2 cup meal after cooking.
High fiber content makes edible seeds like beans and lentils satisfying and helps you feel full for longer. You may obtain more fiber and protein without increasing your calorie consumption by adding them to salads or sautéed veggies.
Lower Risk of Diabetes
Compared to other foods, pulses have a relatively low glycemic load. Based on how they affect blood sugar levels, foods are given a ranking on the glycemic index. Blood sugar levels are hardly impacted by eating meals low on the glycemic index, whereas they skyrocket after consuming foods high on the index. Diabetic incidence is reduced in those who eat a diet high in low-glycemic foods. And if you're diabetic, eating a diet rich in pulses will help you keep your blood sugar under control.
Promotes Sustainable Agriculture
Producing pulses has positive effects on the natural world. Soil health is improved, and greenhouse gas emissions are reduced since pulses are grown there. In addition, less water is needed for growing pulses than other crops. Producing the same quantity of soybeans or peanuts requires well over 200 gallons of water, but producing the same amount of pulses only needs around 43 gallons.
Promotes Food Security
Pulses are a cheap and healthy addition to any diet. To help ensure that people everywhere have access to food, the United Nations has been advocating for increased consumption. Pulses, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, are a low-cost way to get the protein you need, which is particularly important in economically disadvantaged regions where meat, dairy, and fish are more costly.
Additionally, pulses have a long storage life and may still be consumed after many years of being on the shelf. As a result, families without access to refrigeration may save money by growing their own edible seeds.
In order to keep up a healthy lifestyle, one must pay close attention to one's diet. For this reason, it is crucial that different types of food be included. Every element of the food pyramid—from proteins and carbs to fats and fatty acids—should be included in a healthy diet. If you supplement with vitamins and minerals, you should feel much better. There is a rule of balance that must be followed while preparing and eating any dish. It's essential to keep your intake of simple carbs and saturated fats under check. Consuming excessive amounts of meat may be detrimental to health.
There are several options out there for folks who want to consume less meat. Most of them can be made for less money and with less effort. Likewise, their culinary traditions are renowned the world over for their deliciousness. Pulses, which are legumes, are gaining popularity in the once-meat-dominated cooking world.