Pulses are a member of the legume family and include foods like dry peas, dry beans, chickpeas, and lentils. To be exact, pulses are legumes that are harvested for their seeds, which are dry when they are removed from the plant. Pulses have been making a huge comeback in the nutrition world and here’s why…
These little dry seeds naturally high in fiber and plant based protein and are low in fat – making them a great heart healthy addition to your diet. Powerful pulses are complex carbohydrates, meaning they take longer to break down in the body, which provides us with longer lasting and sustained energy. Pulses also contain resistant starch, which is a type of carbohydrate that acts like fiber. Their high fiber content helps to improve gut health and keep blood sugar levels consistent. Although pulses contain a good amount of protein, they are not complete proteins because they lack certain amino acids. Pulses and grains are a perfect pair because together, they make a complete protein. Pulses actually count as a vegetable and a protein, so you get two food groups for the price of one!
You can find pulses in all shapes, sizes, and colors. Lentils can be green, red, brown, or black. Look for whole and split peas that are either green or yellow. Beans can be white, black, red, or brown. In addition to adding a variety of color to your meals, pulses are also environmentally friendly. They are known as nitrogen-fixing crops, which means they can take nitrogen from the air and convert it into a nutrient that plants can utilize, which helps reduce the need for nitrogen fertilizers.
Here are some ways to incorporate pulses into your everyday meals to benefit your heart and the environment:
- Keep canned beans and dried lentils in the pantry to add to soups, stews, and salads
- Beans and lentils can be used as the base for veggie burgers or veggie meatballs
- Blend chickpeas into falafel or hummus
- Add beans or lentils to tacos, burritos, enchiladas, and Huevos Rancheros
- Grind chickpeas into chickpea flour and use in baked goods
- Use lentils to make porridge
- Make split pea soup
- Roast chickpeas with your favorite seasonings for a crunchy snack
- Puree black beans and use them in brownies for an extra boost of protein and fiber
- Try a new variety of pasta made with lentils or black beans
Just by adding ½ cup of pulses to your diet, you can reap all of the heart healthy benefits!