The often overlooked pulse has taken centre stage in the food world. The UN General Assembly has declared 2016 the year of the pulse. Pulses are part of the legume family; specifically the dried seed - lentils, peas, chickpeas, and beans are a few examples. They were some of the first plants to be cultivated by ancient man, and in modern times they still have a lot to offer. The pulse is promising for both human health, and the health of the planet.
Studies have shown that when included regularly in your diet, pulses can be preventative for several diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer. They have also been shown to lower LDL cholesterol levels, and reduce blood pressure. Most varieties of pulses are high in both soluble and insoluble fibre, and provide several necessary vitamins and minerals, including iron, potassium, magnesium, zinc, and a variety of B vitamins. When it comes to measuring nutrient per acre of crop, pulses often come out on top. They are also a good source of protein. Lentils, for example, have 18 grams of protein per cup.
Ecologically, pulses are quite extraordinary plants. Much like legumes, pulses are nitrogen-fixing crops that contribute to improved soil health and sustainable agricultural practices. Unlike most plants, in the early half of the growing season pulses will convert energy from the sun and the air and produce nitrogen-rich caches in their root nodules. In turn, any nitrogen that is unused by the plant enriches the soil making it more fertile for future crops.