Pulses: Small Plants, Big Benefits
Pulses, a category of food made up of peas, beans, lentils and chickpeas, are increasingly becoming a popular food choice. Many consumers are finding pulses to be a smart food choice because of their nutritional components, but did you know that pulses are beneficial to the environment?
We are breaking down some of the big benefits that come from choosing pulses, including the nutritional benefits and the environmental benefits, and we’re sharing a few ways you can easily incorporate them into your meal planning.
Big Benefits for Our Health
Pulses are a powerful food group because they are packed with nutrients that support a well-balanced lifestyle. Here are a few ways that pulses pack a nutritional punch to support your health:
They are high in protein and fibre, which are important factors in weight management because they help keep you fuller for longer. Their high protein content also supports muscle repair in active living and makes them a great addition to plant-based diets.
Pulses are a source of complex carbohydrates and healthy starches, which provide a great source of energy. They also provide an excellent source of B-vitamins, including folate and minerals such as iron, potassium, magnesium and zinc. Additionally, they are a low glycemic index food that can help maintain healthy blood sugar levels, which is important for managing and preventing diabetes. This is because eating pulses does not cause blood sugar levels to rise as much as sugary or starchy foods that are low in fibre.
Pulses are considered a heart-healthy food choice because they are low in saturated and trans fats, and high in soluble fibre. These are important nutritional factors for managing cholesterol levels, reducing blood pressure and supporting body weight management.
Big Benefits for Our Planet
In addition to pulses being good for our health, they are also considered to be good for the planet. Here’s how pulses are beneficial for our environment:
Growing pulses is a unique way that farmers can provide healthy crops and reduce their impact on the environment. This is because pulses are known for their soil building quality. Little to no synthetic nitrogen fertilizer is required to grow pulses because they have a relationship with soil bacteria that converts nitrogen in the air into fertilizer that the crop can use. After pulses are harvested, they leave behind nitrogen-rich crop residues that improve soil health and benefit other crops grown in rotation with pulses. This also means the farmer doesn’t have to use as much synthetic or additional fertilizer on the next crop planted in that same field.
Greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture largely come from nitrogen fertilizers. Because of the unique benefits that growing pulses brings to the soil and the land, pulses are considered a low-carbon-footprint food.
Big Benefits for Our Meal Plans
One of the biggest reasons we absolutely love pulses is their versatility. There are so many easy ways to incorporate them into your meals to add flavour, texture and variety that keep the menu fresh and delicious. Here are a few ideas for how you can use pulses in your next meal plan:
1. Toss canned chickpeas with a bit of canola oil and your favourite spices and roast them in the oven to create an easy, healthy, crunchy snack.
2. For your next Taco Tuesday, sprinkle a few black beans on top of your taco or burrito for an extra hit of protein and fibre.
3. Adding a handful of canned lentils into your pre-made soup takes it from appetizer to hearty meal.
4. Use canned chickpeas to make your favourite hummus recipe.
5. Replace half of your ground meat with lentils, beans or chickpeas in your favourite chilli, burgers, meatballs or lasagna!
To learn more about the big benefits of pulses, and for recipe ideas and inspiration, we encourage you to check out www.albertapulse.com