Trending Food News: 2016 is the Year of PULSES

Posted on 01/15/2016 by Left Coast

Move over quinoa. The media is abuzz with the latest “it” food – pulses.

Not the heartbeat kind. The legume kind! According to Pulse Canada:

“Pulses are part of the legume family* but the term ‘pulse’ refers only to the dried seed. Dried peas, edible beans, lentils and chickpeas are the most common varieties of pulses. Pulses are very high in protein and fibre, and are low in fat. Like their cousins in the legume family, pulses are nitrogen-fixing crops that improve the environmental sustainability of annual cropping systems.”

In fact, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization has named 2016 the International Year of Pulses.


What’s so great about a bunch of beans, lentils and peas? Apart from being nutritional powerhouses, they address some of our pressing global food issues.

Nutrition and Balanced Diet

  • Global food source: “pulse crops such as lentils, beans, peas and chickpeas are a critical part of the general food basket.  Pulses are a vital source of plant-based proteins and amino acids for people around the globe and should be eaten as part of a healthy diet to address obesity, as well as to prevent and help manage chronic diseases such as diabetes, coronary conditions and cancer.” – United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization
  • Plant based protein: “pulses are a low fat source of protein, with a high fibre content and low glycemic index.” – Global Pulse Confederation
  • High in fibre: “pulses are very high in fibre, containing both soluble and insoluble fibres. Soluble fibre helps to decrease blood cholesterol levels and control blood sugar levels, and insoluble fibre helps with digestion and regularity.” – Global Pulse Confederation 
  • Vitamins and minerals: “pulses provide important amounts of vitamins and minerals. Some of the key minerals in pulses include: iron, potassium, magnesium and zinc. Pulses are also particularly abundant in B vitamins; including folate, thiamin and niacin.” – Global Pulse Confederation
  • Gluten free: pulses are inherently gluten free and are suitable for people with gluten sensitivities and allergies. – Pulse Canada


  • Low environmental impact: “Just 43 gallons of water can produce one pound of pulses, compared with 216 gallons for soybeans and 368 gallons for peanuts. And production of pulses emits only 5 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions associated with beef production.” – Food Tank
  • Healthy soil and increased crop yields: in crop rotation practices, growing legume crops assist with the process of nitrogen fixation that is necessary to nourish plants.  – Pulse Canada

Food Security

  • Healthy soil increases food security: “soil degradation is a major threat to food security in many areas…by improving the crop patterns using pulses, farmers can improve their yields and limit the long-term threat to food security that soil degradation represents.” – Global Pulse Confederation
  • Universal commodity across cultures: “Pulses are locally adapted and can be grown by local farmers for their own nutrition as well as for sale, which is important to improve food security. They are highly accepted crops, which can keep well in storage.” – Global Pulse Confederation
  • Better animal feed: “Complementing animal feed with improved varieties of pulses has shown to significantly improve animal nutrition too, yielding better livestock, which in turns supports food security.” – Global Pulse Confederation

Okay. Lumpy green pea soup may not sound sexy. But chefs are rising to the occasion to show how versatile and tasty these often overlooked staples can be. Celeb chef Michael Smith, supporting the global push for including more pulses in our diets, shares his favourite recipes from around the world in Lentil Hunters.

Still want to know more about pulses? If you see our organic lentils, beans, peas and chickpeas in the bulk foods aisle, we provide all the info you’ll need: nutritional information, country of origin, the farmer’s story, allergens, cooking instructions, certifications list, and recipes. Find out more on our online database.

* Legume: “The term ‘legume’ refers to the plants whose fruit is enclosed in a pod. Legumes represent a vast family of plants including more than 600 genera and more than 13,000 species.
 When growing, legumes fix nitrogen into the soil, which reduces the need for chemical fertilizers. Well-known legumes include alfalfa, clover, fresh peas, lupins, mesquite, soy and peanuts.” Pulse Canada, 2016

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