Chickpeas, Split Yellow Peas, Pea Flour - Photo Courtesy of the Northern Pulse Growers Association
Pulse crops are high in protein, high in fiber, have a low glycemic index, and contain significant amounts of micronutrients.
Pulse crops have very favorable nutritional attributes that can address health issues such as heart disease, diabetes, weight control, digestive tract health, some types of cancer, food allergies, and pre-natal health.
Protein Pea protein is high in lysine, giving it an advantage over soy protein.
Fiber Pulse crops contain high amounts of both soluble and insoluble fiber.
A serving of cooked split peas provides 10 grams of dietary fiber compared to the 1 – 3 grams provided by a serving of most commonly consumed grains, fruits, and vegetables.
- Soluble dietary fiber can reduce intestinal absorption of fat and cholesterol. Diets high in soluble fiber may reduce the risk of heart disease via favorable effects on blood pressure, blood glucose and insulin moderation, and reduced likelihood of obesity.
- Insoluble and soluble fiber are beneficial to the lower intestine in that they help eliminate harmful bacteria and promote good bacteria, plus promote regularity.
- Besides benefits to cardiovascular and digestive tract health, fiber helps prevent large swings in blood sugar levels.
Starch The starches in pulse crops have a low glycemic index.
- This means that the carbohydrates in pulses digest slower, which helps regulate blood sugar.
- Foods with a low glycemic index are important to people suffering from diabetes.
- Foods with a low glycemic index also help extend periods of satiation (fullness).
Nutrients Pulse crops are good sources of important minerals like iron, magnesium, phosphorous, and manganese. They also contain significant amounts of B vitamins, including folate.
Lentils and chickpeas boast among the highest concentrations of folate. A single cup of lentils or chickpeas provides over a third of the recommended daily allowance of folate.
- Adequate folate intake is important for fetal development because folate is necessary for the formation and development of new and normal tissue.
- Additionally, folate helps break down an amino acid associated with heart disease, improves metabolism functions, and may reduce asthma and allergy suffering.
- Pulses are gluten free. One of every 133 people are gluten intolerant in the U.S.
- Pulse protein concentrates can be used to replace eggs as food ingredients in some applications. Eggs are the fourth most common food to trigger allergic reactions in adults in the U.S.
- Pulse ingredients might be used to manufacture products targeted at people with lactose intolerance and allergies to soy products.