Pulses Have Big Health Benefits

The benefits of dried beans and peas extend beyond satisfying hunger: They play a role in preventing chronic diseases, too.

The humble dried beans and peas known as pulses are much more than tasty sponges of flavor in your soups and stews.

They’re also a cheap, healthy source of protein that could play a central role in solving the global problem of hunger and malnutrition.

Pulses as Protein Powerhouses

The low cost and rich nutritional value of dried beans and peas are rich sources of dietary protein and minerals like iron and zinc.

In addition to being nutritious, pulses are also sustainable crops. Pulses grow easily in tough environments and require minimal amounts of water, have a low carbon footprint, and also enrich the soil where they grow.

Beans for Better Health

The health benefits of pulses extend beyond satisfying your daily nutritional needs: They also play a role in preventing chronic disease. Beans and lentils are helpful for controlling diabetes, high cholesterol, and hypertension — conditions that can later lead to heart disease.

Eating pulses can also help you feel full and lose weight. They are high in prebiotics and can improve gut health by feeding the gut’s good bacteria.

Pulses and Healthy Cuisines

Pulses were immensely important during historic times because, unlike other plant foods, they could be easily stored in their dried form and offered an unparalleled amount of plant protein

Many of the world’s Blue Zones — pockets around the globe with the highest concentrations of centenarians — have a strong tradition of serving pulse-based meals. Among the Blue Zones are parts of California, Italy, Greece, Japan, and Costa Rica.

Rice and bean dishes are a part of traditional diets around the world black beans and rice in South America; Jollof rice and black beans in West Africa; brown rice and red beans with coconut milk in the Caribbean; Hoppin’ John, collard beans, and Carolina rice in the American South; Pasta e fagioli in the Italian Mediterranean; rice and bean stew in Asia; and curried dal with rice in India.