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THE BENEFITS OF PULSES: GOOD FOR YOUR BODY AND THE ENVIRONMENT 450 450 Delphine Remy | Holistic Nutrition & Eating Psychology Coach

Ok. I’ll admit it…when I first heard the term pulses the first thing I thought of was a heart pulse. But pulses in the nutrition world actually refers to dried edible seeds such as peas, beans, and lentils — among so many others. Pulses offer incredible benefits to the body, and the environment and play a huge role in creating sustainable ecosystems and reducing greenhouse gas emissions ! ‘Pulses’ created such a buzz that the 68th UN General Assembly declared 2016 the International Year of Pulses (I know…I can’t believe I missed that announcement either, hahahah!). So let’s get into what ‘pulses’ are and why they are so great.

First, let’s define terms…what are pulses? A pulse is a dried, edible seed that grows in a pod. It is in the “legume” family. Legumes are plants whose fruit is enclosed in a pod (such as most varieties of peas, beans and lentils). A very important aspect of pulses is that dried pulses need to be soaked and cooked before being eaten. Legumes that are NOT pulses are ones that are eaten fresh like vegetables (such as green peas, green beans, and edamame).

Why are pulses so awesome? Great question! 😉

Pulses are nature’s fertilizer.
Most plants are dependent on nitrogen rich soil for growth, especially plants that yield crops. Pulses are special because they are a natural nitrogen-fixing crop that do not require fertilizer or pesticide to thrive. While plants that yield crops deplete nitrogen from the soil, nitrogen-fixing plants, like pulses, actually INCREASE the levels of nitrogen in the soil making it the ideal plant in between crop rotations. This reduces the risk of soil erosion and nitrogen depletion, keeping the soil healthy for the next yield!

Pulses have a small carbon footprint.
Another way that pulses are good for the environment is that they are rich in protein, making them an excellent substitution for meat. How does substituting meat for plant proteins help the environment? You ask. A lot of people don’t know this, but the production of meat takes a huge toll on our environment (i.e. it has a large carbon footprint). It requires A LOT more space, food, water and energy to produce meat than it does to grow plant proteins, such as pulses, which have a very small carbon footprint. Eating pulses instead of meat from time-to-time not only makes soil healthier AND reduces the global greenhouse-gas emissions caused by animal agriculture.

They are low-maintenance.
Ah, what a compliment! Pulses are also low-maintenance and low-cost for farmers, meaning they adapt to tough environments, don’t require many fertilizers or pesticides in non-organic farming, require minimal amounts of water, and have a low carbon footprint. Overall, they are a huge win for farmers, the environment and you.

How are pulses good for me?
Pulses contain high amounts of protein, fiber, iron, zinc, phosphorous, folate and B-vitamins! Coupled with the fact that they are inexpensive to grow — makes them inexpensive for YOU to purchase. There are hundreds of different types of pulses grown worldwide, below are a common few to purchase at your local market and keep on hand.

Dry Beans. Dry beans include a few different types under it’s belt. Black beans, Red Kidney beans, Navy beans to name a few. In Texas we’re fans of the black beans due to the Tex-Mex influence from the South. But the advantage to adding black beans to our ‘Southwestern Salad’ are the high levels of fiber, potassium — low cholesterol and heart healthy attributes.

Lentils are an amazing source of cholesterol-lowering fiber, they also help in managing. blood-sugar problems because of their high fiber content. Lentils also provide an excellent amount of seven important minerals, B-vitamins, and protein.

Chickpeas. We all know what a fan I am of chickpeas –they are a great source of protein. Have you tried my chickpea burger? Or home-made hummus? So hearty, filling and delicious. The high fiber content helps improve digestion and promote weight loss by increasing satiety.

Lupins. Lupins contain incredible levels of folate and thiamin helping you absorb vitamins in the foods you eat better. Thiamin also helps boost your metabolism and maintain a healthy nervous system function.

Overall, Pulses are simply AMAZING.
Not only are pulses are nutritious and flavorful, they are good for the environment! Not to mention cheap — and I think we can all agree saving money is always a win-win. For more ideas about how to get pulses into your diet, try out my Green Goddess Salad or my Beet Hummus recipes today or sign up to receive exclusive recipes.


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