The Ancient Superfood
Updated: Aug 5
Pulses are a group of ancient superfoods that have stood the test of time dating back to the Ancient Egyptians. These extraordinary foods are poised at the cutting edge of today's demand for affordable, versatile, innovative, healthful, and delicious. There has never been a better time to transform your plate by adding pulses!
What are pulses?
If you aren’t familiar with pulses, you aren’t alone. Most Americans have never heard of pulses. Pulses are a category of foods that include beans, peas, and lentils. They cross several food groups being a high-protein grain that is also considered a starchy vegetable. When consumed on a regular basis they are shown to improve health in several ways.
Eating just a ½ cup of pulses daily provides many health benefits. It can improve your gut health, stabilize blood sugar, and lower blood pressure. These power-packed foods are extremely nutrient dense containing high amounts of iron, magnesium, zinc, potassium, and B Vitamins. Per ½ cup serving they provide 9 grams of protein and 7 grams of dietary fiber. They contain even more antioxidants than other superfoods like berries and pomegranates!
Pulses are not only nutritious they are also budget friendly. Pulses are a great lean protein source and cost just a fraction of the cost of meat. Pulses are approximately ¼ the cost of beef and ½ the cost of chicken per gram of protein, according to VegTech Invest research. You can see the cost savings yourself by comparing prices on your next trip to your local grocery store. For example, a bag of lentils is priced at $1.99/lb compared to chicken at $2.99/lb or beef at $5.99/lb.
Pulses are not only economical they have many culinary uses too. Try them at home by adding them to soups, salads, casseroles, chilis, sheet pan meals, pasta dishes, skillet meals, tacos, or make a power bowl. Turn them into a dip or spread. They can also be blended and used in dips and spreads. The possibilities are endless!
Tips for preparing pulses
Pulses can be purchased dried, canned, and frozen. Follow the directions below to prepare the dried variety using either the traditional method, the quick soak method, or cooking with a slower cooker.
Rinse pulses under running cold water in a strainer to remove debris from harvesting
Hydrate pulses by soaking them in a large bowl with water for 8-12 hours.
Boil them gently in a large pot. They increase in volume 2-3x while cooking.
Bring pulses to a boil, remove from heat, and soak for 1 hour.
Not all pulses need to soak. This simple guide to cooking pulses is a great reference depicting which pulses need to soak and cooking times. This reference is available to download and print.
Pulses are Healthful
Research supports pulses for being useful in protecting against various types of cancer, managing blood sugar, lowering the risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease, and also useful for weight management. The high antioxidant content is anti-inflammatory offering protection against cancer. The prebiotic fiber provides fuel for the good gut bacteria in the digestive system supporting gut health and the immune system. The fiber content of pulses helps reduce cholesterol levels and aids in blood sugar management. Pulses are a natural protein and complex carbohydrate combo that creates satiety. All of these factors together help with weight loss and weight management.
Chickpea Summer Salad
Prep: 10 minutes
Download the recipe
It's no wonder pulses have stood the test of time and are growing in popularity! Get your daily nutrient boost by making pulses a dietary staple in your diet. Eating pulses like kidney beans, chickpeas, and lentils is an excellent way to increase fiber and protein consumption. Plus, they are rich in micronutrients like iron, folate, magnesium, calcium, and zinc. Increase your consumption of pulses to boost satiety, reduce the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes, manage weight, and regulate digestion.