Pulses are one of the most popular food trends recently and I happen to be a big fan. Of course as a child I never liked pulses. Even as an adult I always tried to avoid them! Being a dietitian and learning about all the benefits of pulses, I’ve found ways to include them in my diet without hating them … in fact, I enjoy eating pulses! I have highlighted some of the well-researched benefits of pulses.
1. Pulses have desirable impact on blood pressure and blood cholesterol
a number of studies show that cooked beans lower circulating LDL cholesterol (this is the “undesirable” cholesterol)
including a good amount of pulses in your daily diet may help in lowering blood pressure
high LDL levels and high blood pressure are both risk factors for heart diseases – this means that pulses could serve to protect you against heart disease
2. Pulses help control blood sugar levels, which is specially important for people with diabetes
pulses have a “low glycemic index” – this means that the carbohydrate content of pulses is slowly broken down and released into the blood, causing a very gradual increase in blood sugar levels
low glycemic index food items are great choices for those concerned with controlling their blood sugar levels (such as those who have diabetes)
3. Pulses promote satiety
pulses help you feel full, which makes them a great choice, specially for those who are trying to lose weight
4. Pulses have a positive impact on intestinal health
the high fibre content of pulses promotes gastrointestinal health
some studies have shown that pulses protect individuals from ulcerative colitis (inflammatory bowl disease)
pulses also contribute to healthy gut microbiomes (i.e. bacteria in the gut) – there is a lot of research being done in this area which supports the importance of a healthy gut microbiota
These are some of the many benefits of pulses. Beans, peas and lentils belong to the “Meat and Alternatives” group of Canada’s Food Guide where 3/4 cup cooked pulses is equivalent to one serving. Here are some strategies to help you add more pulses to your diet:
Add cooked black beans or kidney beans to an omelette, stew or to your pasta sauce.
Toss cooked lentils, chickpeas or beans into your salad.
Spread sandwiches with hummus.
Make more chilli and lentil soup!
See how a Registered Dietitian can help you with easy and practical strategies to make your meals healthier!
Mudryj, A. N., Yu, N., & Aukema, H. M. (2014). Nutritional and health benefits of pulses. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, 39(11), 1197-1204.
Rizkalla, S. W., Bellisle, F., & Slama, G. (2002). Health benefits of low glycaemic index foods, such as pulses, in diabetic patients and healthy individuals. British Journal of Nutrition, 88(S3), 255-262.
Schwartz, R. (2013, April 19). The perks of pulses | Diabetes Canada. Retrieved from https://www.diabetes.ca/publications-newsletters/diabetes-dialogue/spring-2013/nutrition/the-perks-of-pulses