Pulses like peas, lentils and beans are increasingly being recognized as an excellent source of plant protein, but they’re also an important source of other nutrients.
High Levels of Plant Protein
Typically, pulses contain twice the amount of protein found in whole grains like wheat, oats, barley and rice. Pulses have higher amounts of the essential amino acid lysine, a limiting amino acid in cereals. Blending pulses with cereals or nuts therefore results in a better quality protein that contains all essential amino acids in appropriate amounts.
High in Fibre
Pulses are very high in fibre, and contain both soluble and insoluble fibre. Diets that are high in fibre can help with weight management. Dietary fibre aids in satiety and supports digestive health by promoting regularity.
Pulses provide substantial amounts of vitamins and minerals including iron, potassium, magnesium zinc, and folate. Diets that incorporate pulses have demonstrated higher intakes of protein, fibre, folate zinc, calcium, potassium, iron, and magnesium, and decreased consumption of saturated fat.1,2
Blood Sugar Management
The fibre, slowly digestible starches, and protein in pulses helps to prevent spikes in blood glucose levels after meals. As low glycemic index foods, pulses can assist people with diabetes in managing blood glucose levels.
Reduced Risk for Cardiovascular Disease
Pulses have a low glycemic index, which means they do not cause a fast rise in blood sugar after eating. Studies have shown that eating pulses is a good way to manage blood sugar levels which is particularly important for people with diabetes.3 There is evidence linking regular pulse consumption to lower LDL cholesterol and blood pressure.4 Both of these outcomes are linked to reduced risk of heart disease.
Satiety and Weight Management
Research suggests that pulses may help to increase satiety over the short term.5 Pulses have also been shown to increase weight loss when used in energy restricted diets.6
1. Mitchell D. et al. 2009. Consumption of dry beans, peas and lentils could improve diet quality in the US population. Am Diet Assoc. 109(5): 909-913. Doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jada...
2. Mudryk, A. et al. 2012. Pulse consumption in Canadian adults influences nutrient intakes. Nutr. 108:Suppl. 1:S27-36. Doi: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0007114512000724.
3. Sievenpiper, J. et al. 2009. Effect of non-oil-seed pulses on glycaemic control: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled experimental trials in people with and without diabetes. Diabetologia. 52(8):1479-1495. Doi: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00125...
4. Lukus, P. et al. 2020. The role of pulses in cardiovascular disease risk for adults with diabetes. Am. J. Lifestyle Medicine. 14(6):571-584. Doi: https://doi.org/10.1177/155982...
5. Li, S. et al. 2014. Dietary pulses, satiety and food intake: a systematic review and meta-analysis of acute feeding trials. Obesity (Silver Spring). 22(8):1773-1780. Doi: https://doi.org/10.1002/oby.20...
6. Shana, J. et al. 2016. Effects of dietary pulse consumption on body weight: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Am. J. of Clinical Nutr. 103(5):1213-1223. Doi: https://doi.org/10.3945/ajcn.1...