Move over quinoa, kale and coconut oil! The newest food trend is here: pulses. In fact, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations formally declared 2016 as the “International Year of Pulses.”
So what exactly is this food that’s caught the global spotlight? Pulses are the dried seeds of legumes (think soybeans, peanuts, etc.). There are many different varieties of pulses but the most common pulses are dried beans, chickpeas and lentils.
Pulses have been a staple around the world for thousands of years, keeping people healthy, lean and satisfied without increasing risk of disease or weight gain.
So why should you make pulses part of your diet?
- They’re affordable! You don’t have to empty your wallet to eat healthy. Beans, chickpeas and lentils aren’t expensive and fill you up fast.
- Thanks to fiber and complex carbohydrates, pulses keep you full and help control blood sugar and insulin. Research shows the more you add beans to your diet, the less risk you have for type 2 diabetes.
- Pulses are packed with nutrients like folate, iron, calcium, magnesium, zinc, potassium, protein, B vitamins, phytochemicals and fiber. Plus they’re low in fat.
- Pulses can help manage cholesterol, improve digestive health, regulate energy levels and appetite, increase bone health and lower risk of obesity and certain cancers.
Here are five ways to add pulses to your diet:
- Add lentils to homemade or canned soups for a hearty lunch.
- Add black beans in tacos and use less ground meat or poultry.
- Add white beans to spaghetti sauce for a vegetarian pasta dish.
- Add black beans and salsa to your macaroni and cheese to create a Mexican twist on the traditional dish.
- Sprinkle chickpeas on your tossed salad for a filling topping.
For healthy snacks try adding pulses to yogurt and smoothies, grains, soups or salads for color and crunch, but remember that moderation is key.
Recipe: Mediterranean Chickpea Salad
One 15-ounce can garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
1/8 cup fresh parsley, chopped
½ cup red bell pepper, chopped
½ cup Roma tomatoes, diced
½ cup cucumber, seeded and chopped
1/8 cup black olives, sliced
2 ounces feta cheese, reduced fat, crumbled
1/8 cup red onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
¼ teaspoon garlic, minced
Drain and rinse the garbanzo beans. Place in a medium bowl. Add the vegetables and toss.
Add feta cheese and olives. Mix all dressing ingredients together and whisk to combine.
Pour dressing over the salad and toss to coast. Chill for 1 to 2 hours before serving. Add salt and pepper to taste.