If you’re worried you’re not getting enough protein or you’re just trying to eat healthier in 2016, you should add some dried peas, lentils, or chickpeas to your shopping list. This bunch of diet superstars belongs to a group of plants called pulses—crops harvested solely for their dry seeds—which also includes all varieties of dried beans, such as lima beans and kidney beans. While pulses have long been under-appreciated, now’s their time to shine: the UN has declared 2016 the “International Year of Pulses” in a press release on the UN News Centre. Here’s what they want you to know about these dried beans and peas:
- Pulses are nutritious. Pulses have protein power, packing double the protein found in wheat and triple the protein found in rice. They are also a source of amino acids and B vitamins, which are essential to a healthy diet. On top of that, they are low in fat and contain soluble fiber, which can help control blood sugar and help with blood sugar management.
- Pulses provide food security. Pulses are inexpensive to produce, and are an important food source in places where animal-based protein isn’t very affordable. In addition, pulse crops could potentially help farmers who live in poverty, as they yield prices two to three times higher than those of cereal grains (such as wheat). Pulses also dry and store well, making them a reliable food source for all seasons.
- Pulses are sustainable. Pulses require little water to grow and have a low carbon footprint. They also increase soil fertility due to their nitrogen-fixing properties, which means they’re able to absorb nitrogen from the atmosphere—decreasing the need for synthetic fertilizers. It’s no wonder the UN has deemed pulses “nutritious seeds for a sustainable future.”
Source: UN News Centre