To raise awareness of the health and environmental benefits of regularly including pulses like lentils, chickpeas and dried peas and beans in our diets, the United Nations declared 2016 International Year of the Pulse. A less familiar word than ‘legumes’ to some, ‘pulses’ include dried beans, dried peas, chickpeas and lentils. Pulses are one of 3 main categories of legumes. The other 2 categories include: 1) soybeans and peanuts and 2) fresh beans and peas.
As the year end nears, and during November, Diabetes Awareness Month, an exciting new study from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada has shown that replacing starchy food with pulses can help stabilize blood sugar levels. Pulses do this because they’re slowly digested and released into the blood stream over a longer period than certain other starchy foods we eat. A significant improvement in blood sugar can be seen even in replacing just half a serving of bread, rice and potatoes with pulses. Results of the second phase of the study where beans are used in soups, muffins and casseroles will be available in 2018.
Maintaining stable blood sugar levels is critical in helping manage diabetes, preventing diabetes complications and minimizing future health problems.
Pulses also contain protein and fibre that promote feeling full longer, thereby assisting in weight management. Pulses supply 2-3 times more protein than cereal grains like rice, corn and wheat. They have double the protein of quinoa! Half a cup of cooked pulses gives you more than 1/3 of the fibre you need for the day. Pulses provide key vitamins and minerals with only small amounts of sugar and fat – nutrients like iron, potassium and folate – even a little calcium. The carbohydrates in pulses can increase the good bacteria in your digestive system. As a bonus for those who need: They’re naturally gluten-free.
6 No-Recipe-Needed Ways to Enjoy More Beans, Peas and Lentils
- Stir cooked or pureed pulses like lentils into tomato pasta sauces or soups. Use to thicken the sauce or to replace some or all of the meat.
- Add to salads – they’re especially great in marinated salads like Greek salad as they soak up the flavor of the dressing.
- Keep a bag of cooked lentils in the freezer for an easy added protein boost in a smoothie.
- Let toddlers nibble on them – they’re the perfect size for tiny fingers. Arrange them like a happy face or let older kids make creative edible designs on their plates.
- Stir them into oatmeal. They’ll mix right in with berries and nuts.
- Make hummus: Blend up a batch of homemade hummus. Toss a can of rinsed and drained chickpeas in the blender or food processor with a little garlic, lemon juice and tahini or olive oil.
Visit Pulse Canada for more ideas and recipes!
Thanks Keri Adams and the crew at CTV Morning Live Vancouver for the opportunity to share the great word about Canadian grown Pulses! (Video clip)