Did you know that in an effort to promote their promise in feeding a growing population, the United Nations proclaimed 2016 as the International Year Of The Pulses? Furthermore, do you know what pulses are?
Pulses fall into the broad legume category. According to the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization, there are 11 types of pulses, however, the most common pulse crops in the United States are dry beans, peas, lentils, chickpeas, and a bit of fava beans. They are in their dry form, and another more distinctive factor attributed to pulses is that their oil content is significantly lower than those of most other legumes.
Pulses are also highly nutritious. Because of their high protein and dietary fiber content, they prolong the feeling of fullness thus helping with weight management. Since pulses are dry products, they are easy to store and have a relatively long shelf life.
Developing countries need more protein sources and pulses can deliver that. When combined with a cereal grain (ex. wheat, rice, corn), you have a complete vegetable protein, plus they are environmentally sustainable.
Pulse crops are low-input and low water-use crops. They require none to very little fertilizer and are very good at fixing nitrogen. Because they are grown around the world, they remain inexpensive and accessible, and can aid in a more diverse crop rotation.
While pulses are relatively easy to cook, and their benefits are substantial, there seems to be a hesitation. Because most people are not very familiar with pulses, they tend to shy away. But by naming 2016 as the International Year Of The Pulses, the United Nations is hoping to raise awareness about the benefits and versatility of these crops.