Diet is an important contributor to health, and to disease. Most countries face nutritional problems, from undernutrition and micronutrient deficiencies to obesity and diet-related diseases (such as type II diabetes and certain types of cancer), or a mix of these.
Pulses such as lentils, dried beans, peas and chickpeas have been staple foods for many civilizations. Yet today, their nutritional benefits are often greatly underestimated. In some cultures pulses have a stigma of being a ‘poor man’s food’ and are replaced by meat once people can afford meat.
Incredibly rich in their nutritional value, pulses are small but densely packed with proteins – double that found in wheat and three times that of rice. Unlike animal food sources of protein such as beef or milk, pulses do not contain residues of hormones or antibiotics used in animal production, but may contain residues of pesticides depending on the production method.
Pulses are also rich in complex carbohydrates, micronutrients, protein and B-vitamins, which are vital parts of a healthy diet. Low in fat and rich in fibre, pulses are excellent for managing cholesterol, digestive health and regulating energy levels. Pulses are also particularly rich in folate, iron, calcium, magnesium, zinc and potassium
While pulses are low in calories (260-360 kcal/100 g dried pulses), they are high in complex carbohydrates and fibre, which means they are slowly digested and give a feeling of satiety. Pulses promote a steady, slow-burning energy while their iron content helps transporting oxygen throughout the body,
which boosts energy production and metabolism. The fibre in pulses are not generally absorbed by the body and thus increase stool volume and transit. The fibre also serves to bind toxins and cholesterol in the gut so these substances can be removed from the body. This improves heart health and lowers blood cholesterol.
SPROUTING TO BREAKDOWN ANTI-NUTRIENTS
Sprouting is another term for germinating and results in a partially-grown young plant. It involves soaking and draining the pulses every 4 to 8 hours and this process usually takes 1 to 5 days. Sprouting pulses is vital to render them edible in a raw state and make them more easily digestible.
Interestingly, sprouted pulses can significantly diminish polyphenols and tannins, and the protein, carbohydrates and fats begin to break down into a predigested form, leading to an easier and better digestion and making for better overall digestion.
REASONS TO EAT PULSES
GOOD SOURCE OF IRON
GOOD SOURCE OF PROTEIN
EXCELLENT SUPPLIER OF FIBRE
EXCELLENT SOURCE OF FOLATE
GOOD SUPPLIER OF POTASSIUM
LOW GLYCEMIC INDEX