Pulses are crops that harvested solely for its dry seed, such as beans, pods, and lentils. Widely used in many types of cuisines around the world, pulses are dubbed by many people as the “poor man’s food”. Despite its nickname, pulses are a good source of complex carbohydrates, protein, micro-nutrients, and fiber. As such, they were considered as a good and healthy addition to any diet.
Meanwhile, legume is the plant which bears grain seeds known as pulses, have been cultivated by humans for millennia. Historical evidence showed that they have been around since Ancient Egypt, which is roughly more than 5000 years ago. Ever since then, many regions in this world consumed this delicacy up until now.
Not every grain seeds produced by legumes can be classified as pulses. There are 4 main types of legume seeds:
- Forage seeds – such as clovers and alfalfa.
- Pulses – such as kidney beans and lentils.
- Oilseeds – such as soybean and peanuts.
- Vegetable crops – such as green peas.
Pulses Best Advantages
As pulses are a significant source or protein, people used to consume pulses as a substitute for meat in hard times. This is the origin of the “poor man’s food” nickname. Apparently, protein is not the only nutrients we could find in pulses. Thus, here is health benefits of pulses and its nutrients.
About 80% of chickpeas total weight consist of carbohydrates and proteins. The typical carbohydrate content found in chickpea seed varies from 51-71%. While the protein content is around 16-24%.
Chickpeas have the highest amino acid composition compared to other pulses, it contains every essential amino acids except methionine. The chickpea’s seed coat contains a good amount of crude fiber. Chickpea also a good source of minerals, particularly 24% phosphorus, 22% iron, and 16% zinc. That amount based on Dietary Reference Intake, which is a nutrition recommendation system, per 100g of serving.
Related article(s): Health Benefits of Peas
2. Faba bean
Faba bean or fava bean contains a high amount of dietary fibre in addition to the usual carbohydrate and protein found in most pulses. The protein content of the fava bean varies from 24-31% and considered as one of the highest among pulses.
Known as the major food for Ancient Greek and Roman civilization, fava bean is also rich in minerals such as 77% manganese, 60% phosphorus, 54% magnesium, and 52% iron based on Dietary Reference Intake, which is a nutrition recommendation system, per 100g of serving.
Compared to other pulses, lentils have the highest protein per calorie count. Raw lentils consist of ava bean is also rich in minerals such as 77% manganese, 60% phosphorus, 54% magnesium, and 52% iron. However, when boiled, the protein content is reduced to only 9%. Other than that, lentils are also known as highly digestible and possess a short cooking time. Meanwhile, lentils are a very rich source of essential nutrients, particularly 120% folate, 40% phosphorus, and 50% iron.
Related article(s): Health Benefits of Lentils
The yellowish beans known as lupin is rich in protein and fiber, but it has a quite low carbohydrate count compared to other pulses. Thus, lupin is a good source of vitamins, particularly vitamin E, and has a moderate amount of minerals, such as 18% phosphorus, 15% zinc, 15% and magnesium. A variety of sweet lupin from Australia contains higher phosphate and calcium content than cereals and might be used as a substitute.
Related article(s): Health Benefits of Bean Sprouts
5. Pigeon Pea
Pigeon pea is a perennial legume originated from India. It contain important amino acids such as tryptophan, methionine, and lysine. Just like other pulses, pigeon peas are very rich in protein and holds a good amount of vitamin C. Thus, pigeon peas are also rich in minerals such as 52% magnesium, 85% manganese, 52% phosphorus, 30% potassium, and 40% iron.
Related article(s): Benefits of Peanut Butte
6. Mung bean
A common sight in India, China, and Southeast Asia, mung beans are mainly used for savoury and sweet cuisine. Mung beans possess a high amount of protein and dietary fibre, and they are easily digestible.
Mung beans are also abundantly rich in minerals such as 52% iron, 53% magnesium, 52% phosphorus, 49% manganese, 28% potassium, and 27% zinc based on Dietary Reference Intake, which is a nutrition recommendation system, per 100g of serving. They are also a great source of vitamin B1 and folate.
Related article(s): Health Benefits of Mung Beans
Advantages of Eating Pulses
Meanwhile, we know now that pulses are highly nutritious delicacies that are good for our health. But there are so much more about pulses other than satisfying your hunger and daily nutritional needs. Since there are so many nutrients contained within pulses, it is only natural that pulses increase your body condition and well being. Here are the health benefits commonly found in pulses.
1. Good for Cardiovascular Health
Researchers revealed that pulses can prevent heart diseases. Consuming a portion daily will increase your overall cardiac health by reducing the amount of bad cholesterol for 5%. They will also reduce your blood pressure and your cardio-metabolic factors.
2. Lowers Diabetes Risk
Eating pulses daily will improve the blood sugar levels inside your body. Therefore, lowering your risk of contracting diabetes, especially type 2 diabetes. Although pulses are high in carbohydrates, they didn’t raise your blood glucose levels as sharply as other carbohydrate-dense foods such as rice, potatoes, etc. So, by switching your primary source of carbs into pulses, you can significantly reduce your risk of getting diabetes.
3. Good for Digestion
Pulses are rich in fibers, which will help your digestive system to function better. They do this by promoting healthy bacteria in your bowels who will help to break down food components into easily absorbed substances. Fibers are also good against constipation and help your wastes flowing through your systems more smoothly. Just remember to drink regularly, because fiber needs to be hydrated to perform properly.
4. Alternative for Primary Source of Protein
People have since long used pulses as a substitute for meat. This is especially true in poorer regions or famine-struck areas. When meat is rare, people would start consuming pulses until the number of livestock replenished. This habit eventually develops into a stigma of pulses as the sustenance for those who cannot afford meat, hence the nickname “poor man’s food”.
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5. Good source of Minerals
As stated in above, pulses are mineral-rich and could easily fulfill your dietary needs with just one serving. The most commonly found minerals in pulses. Thus, there are still many more useful minerals such as iron, calcium, potassium, etc. Fulfilling your daily mineral needs regularly will significantly improve your overall health. You can achieve it by eating pulses daily.
6. Anti-Ageing Treatment
The antioxidants found within nutritional values of pulses helps your skin from ageing. Some minerals such as magnesium are known to increase reproductive cells, thus reduces “dead” cells significantly and improve your overall skin health.
7. Weight Loss
Since pulses are normally rich in fibers, they could help you control your weight. Foods with high-density fibre could halt the urge to snacking effectively. Some researcher says that by eating pulses, you will feel full longer than other primary food. If you want to reduce your weight without losing any important nutrients or feeling hungry all the time, swap your primary diet with pulses and see the results for yourself.
8. Cheap and Plentiful
Most importantly, pulses are abundantly found everywhere, therefore it’s amazingly cheap. The global market for pulses has an estimation amount at about more than 60 million tonnes annually. Some experts even said that pulses might be the answer to global hunger and malnutrition problems. Thus, they always sold in bulk in many grocery stores, and since they easily satiate your hunger you won’t be needing too many of them.
9. Maintains Heart Health
Pulses contain a very low amount of fat which is an important factor for a healthy heart. The phytochemicals found in many pulses also help your heart by protecting it against heart disease. Thus, the variation peas is good to maintain or promote healthy heart.
10. Vegetarian Best Food
Since most pulses contain high numbers of protein, they can easily fulfill your body daily protein needs. If you happen to be a vegetarian or vegan, this is all the more reason to start consume pulses daily. So, the vegetarian would not be worry to keep feed their body with protein.
More Advantages of Pulses as Superfood
11. Promote Bone Health –Pulses contains phosphorus that is good for bone formation, hormonal balance, and better energy extraction.
12. Promote Metabolic Health –Pulses contains manganese that helps metabolic activity and absorption of calcium.
13. Insomnia Treatment –Pulses contains magnesium to reduce chronic pain, insomnia, and fatigue.
14. Natural Remedy –Since pulses Zinc – known as an effective remedy for cold, helps hormone production, growth, and repairmen, improves immunity, and improve the digestive system.
15. Prevents Celieac Disease –This is a gluten-free food as an alternative to prevent celiac disease.
16. Good for Pregnancy –Meanwhile, pulses contains iron and other vitamins and minerals that is good for both pregnant mother and baby’s nutrients.
Now that we know pulses are highly nutritious food that is a good source of carbohydrates and proteins, it might be a good time to switch your primary diet to a more healthy life of pulses. So, remember that health benefits of pulses.