Pulses Are the Protein-Packed Staple Your Pantry Needs—Here's Why
Affordable, environmentally-friendly, and one of the most promising pantry staples, pulses are nutrient powerhouses that continue to have a larger-than-life role in sustainable food systems and new products popping up at supermarkets nationwide. Why? In addition to their seemingly endless health benefits and versatility, pulses are nitrogen-fixing crops, which means they can convert nitrogen in the air into a plant available nutrient. "Pulses can reduce the need for nitrogen fertilizers, ultimately improving the environmental sustainability of annual cropping systems," explains Becky Garrison, RDN, LD.
What are pulses, exactly?
First things first. The foods that fit into the family known as 'pulses' includes chickpeas, lentils, dry peas, and beans. Technically, pulses are the edible seeds from a legume plant that are harvested dry. "Pulses are special because they have distinct health benefits apart from other legumes. For example, unlike peanuts and soy, pulses are low in fat and high in protein and fiber," says Garrison.
Pulses are recommended for a nutritionally adequate diet in the newly updated Dietary Guidelines for Americans. "Throughout the guidelines, pulses can be counted in either the protein group or vegetable group (one only) due to their high nutrient value," Garrison adds. Still not sold? Here are the main health benefits you'll reap from eating pulses.