February 10th is World Pulse Day but what are pulses?
Pulses are part of the legume family and are described as dry edible seeds grown in a pod. A staple of the Mediterranean diet, pulses include kidney beans, chickpeas, split peas, dried peas, beans and lentils. Unlike legumes they are naturally low in fat and high in protein making them a great addition to your diet.
Here are 5 reasons why you should be eating more pulses:
- Pulses are beneficial to health: a diet rich in pulses can help prevent cardiovascular disease because they lower cholesterol and blood pressure. Pulses are an ideal addition to your diet if you are diabetic as they help to maintain healthy blood, glucose and insulin levels.
- Pulses are nutrient rich: pulses are naturally high in iron, zinc, b-vitamins, folate, magnesium and phosphorous. Pulses are high in dietary fibre and contain chemical compounds that have significant anti-cancer and anti-oxidant effects. They are a good source of iron and count as one of your five a day.
- Pulses are high in natural plant-based protein: they’re a great choice if you want to eat less meat or are considering cutting out meat all together. Because they are high in protein, they keep you feeling fuller for longer.
- Pulses are good for the environment: pulses can reduce the need for nitrogen filters as their plants convert nitrogen in the air into a plant available nutrient. They make soil more fertile, reducing the need for fertilizers. It takes almost 45 times less water to grow an equal amount of pulses than it does beef, making them the most effective source of protein-rich foods.
- Pulses are cheap and cheerful: pulses have a good shelf life, they can be bought ready cooked in tins or dry at your local health food shop. If you’re watching your food budget then pulses are a great option for keeping costs down.
So whether you’re blitzing up a hummus for a snack or slow cooking a chickpea curry, be sure to know that you are doing good for your overall health, your wallet and the environment.
Need some inspiration? Check some of out my favourite recipes below:
Beluga Lentil Bolognaise (click here for recipe)
Beetroot Hummus (click here for recipe)
Chickpea & Spinach Curry (click here for recipe)
Lentil & Coconut Soup w/ Turmeric (click here for recipe)
Moroccan Squash & Lentil Soup (click here for recipe)