In case you haven’t heard, the popularity of “Pulses” in the food industry is dramatically on the rise, not only for their nutritional benefit, but also as the leading front-runner to help solve global food issues like food security, drought protection and agricultural sustainability. Pulses are popping up on menus all over the country and their future as one of the biggest trends in the food industry was officially confirmed last year when The United Nations General Assembly declared 2016, the International Year of the Pulse.
Definition of a “Pulse”:
So, what is a “pulse” exactly? The term “pulse” is not a word you may be commonly using in your everyday food vocabulary but perhaps should, as this food group rightly warrants a closer look. Pulses are the edible seeds of plants found in the legume family. Pulses grow in pods and come in a variety shapes, sizes and colors. Pulses have a long history dating back 11,000 years ago, to the Fertile Crescent, a region in the Middle East home to some of the earliest civilizations. Some of the most common types of pulses include dry beans, lentils, garbanzo beans, pigeon peas and faba beans. Garbanzo beans and lentils are largely responsible for the increased popularity in the United States as the influence of Middle Eastern cuisine in American restaurants is on the rise.
Pulses are making a splash globally because they help solve food problems that plague people everywhere and answer the problem of nutrition around the world, which often tends to be either too much or too little. Pulses help decrease the food wastage footprint because they have a long shelf life which means they can be stored for long periods of time without losing their nutritional value. Pulses provide a rich source of iron and protein in many countries where traditional protein sources like dairy, meat and fish are expensive and out of reach, resulting in widespread malnutrition. Pulses help decrease greenhouse gases, increase soil health and are drought-resistant, making them suitable to grow in marginal environments and a key factor in combatting world hunger.
Pulses pack a powerful punch when it comes to nutrition adding to their popularity trend. Pulses are high in fiber, protein, iron, potassium, folate, antioxidants and happen to be gluten-free. The iron absorption of pulses and protein quality are enhanced when eaten with cereals and vitamin C rich foods. The nutritional value of pulses make them the perfect pairing with healthy eating habits like high-protein, high-fiber and gluten-free diets.