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Healthy Lifestyles that Last Blog

2016, Year of the Pulse

…Not your heartbeat. "Pulse" is a term describing the edible seeds of several leguminous plants, such as dry beans, dry peas, lentils and chickpeas.

The United Nations declared 2016 the International Year of the Pulses which brings awareness to their health benefits and value as sustainable sources of protein. These seed plants have been a staple for countries around the world for centuries but have only recently begun to gain popularity in the United States.

Over the past seven years or so, there has been a shift in how people think about their plates in terms of balance with vegetables and protein; ever since Michael Pollan first encouraged people to, Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

More than ever before meat is seen rather like a sidekick than a main attraction. With plants being the center of attention on the plate, people are experimenting with vegetables and trying new recipes with the unusual varieties in their CSA box, baking breads made with nut and pulse flours and committing to a plant-based diet.

Health Benefits

Beans, peas, lentils and chickpeas are all high in fiber and protein, as well as a significant source of vitamins and minerals such as iron, potassium, zinc, folate and magnesium. They also contain saponins and tannins (phytochemicals) which possess antioxidant and anti-carcinogenic effects.

Pulses have been shown to reduce cholesterol, blood pressure, and inflammation which is an indication that they have the potential to reduce the risk for several chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes.

Including only ½ cup of these per day can greatly enhance diet quality.

Easy Recipe Ideas

Additional Resources

Pulses: The Perfect Food (cooking guide) from NDSU Extension Service. It has everything you need to know about purchasing, preparing, soaking and storing; recipes also included.

Why Year of the Pulses? Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.