FAO.org

Home > Zero Hunger > Detail

Nature’s nutritious seeds: 10 reasons why you should opt for pulses

Find out why you should include pulses in your diet


28 Sep 2016

We see them each and every day: at the grocery store, the farmer’s market and as side orders served with your favourite dish. In many countries, they are part of the cultural heritage and are consumed on a regular basis. In other parts of the world, they hardly garner a mention except when served as soup on a cold winter’s day. However, these tiny, multi-coloured seeds have been one of nature’s nutritious foods since time began. Here is why:

1. Pulses are naturally low in fat and contain no cholesterol, which can contribute to reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

2. Pulses are also low in sodium. Sodium chloride - or salt - is a contributor to hypertension and can be avoided by consuming foods with lower sodium levels such as pulses. It is recommended that a small amount of salt should be added to the cooking water or the final dish.

3. They are a great source of plant-based protein. Surprisingly, 100 grams of raw lentils contain a remarkable 25 grams of protein. During cooking, pulses absorb considerable amounts of water thus reducing the protein content of cooked lentils to around 8%. Consuming cereals with pulses has the potential to increase the protein quality of the overall meal. 

4. The small seeds are a good source of iron. Iron deficiency is considered one of the most prevalent forms of malnutrition and is one of the most common types of anaemia. However, iron from animal source foods is better used by the body than the iron obtained from pulses. To improve the iron absorption, it is advised to combine pulses with foods containing vitamin C (lemon juice on lentil curry for example) and to soak them before cooking to diminish the phytate content, which is known to hinder mineral absorption in the intestine.

5. Pulses are high in potassium, which supports the heart function and plays an important role for digestive and muscular functions.

6. Pulses are often quoted among the top high fibre foods, necessary for supporting digestive health and helping to reduce the risks of cardiovascular diseases.

7. Pulses are an excellent source of folate – a B-vitamin naturally present in many foods – that is essential to the nervous system function and especially important during pregnancy to prevent foetal neural tube defects.

8. Pulses can be stored for a long time and thus can help to increase the diversity of diets, especially in developing countries.

9. Pulses are low glycemic index foods. They increase satiety and help to stabilize blood sugar and insulin levels, making them suitable for people with diabetes and ideal for weight management.

10. Finally, pulses are naturally gluten-free. This makes them an ideal option for coeliacs.


Are you hungry for more? For more details from the world of pulses visit the International Year of Pulses 2016 website and find your favorite pulses recipe to try out!

Share this page