What are Pulses?
In Australia the terms legumes and pulses are generally used interchangeably. Technically speaking, pulses are the edible seeds from the plants in the legume family and coupled with legumes, they are fast becoming one of Australia’s proud, home grown, success stories. From humble beginnings, Australia is now a major player in the global pulse markets.
The six main pulse groups in Australia are chickpeas, faba/broad beans, field peas, lentils, lupin and mungbeans. In addition to this there are a number of smaller niche market crops such as the auzuki beans, cowpea, vetch and pigeon pea.
Pulses are becoming more and more common in Australia and across the world with recipes from soups to cakes, and from brownies to dips becoming widely available and experimented with.
2016 is the international year of the pulses. The aim of this is to promote and celebrate pulses by increasing the awareness of these powerhouses.
Pulses contain a wide range of nutrients, minerals, vitamins, carbohydrates, dietary fibres, protein, phytoestrogens, antioxidants etc. They are energy dense and low GI powerhouses, ideal for healthy bowel regularity, blood sugar regulation and cholesterol elimination. Pulses in general contain thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, vitamin B6, pantothenic acid, vitamin E, vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, iron, zinc, magnesium, phosphorus, calcium, selenium, manganese, lignans, isoflavones and phenolic acids. Pulses are low in fat, are a great vegetarian option for iron, and when combined with nuts or rice, they make a complete protein.
Not only are they great for our bodies, but they are also great for the environment. Pulse crops are one of the most sustainable crops a farmer can grow. It takes just over 160L water to produce 1 pound of pulses, compared to the 200+L water for soybeans and 1400L for peanuts. Further to this, pulses come from plants that have nitrogen-fixing properties (pull nitrogen from the air into soil) which can contribute to increasing soil fertility and have a positive impact on the environment.
No matter your meat preference, pulses can become part of your weekly routine. Pulses are easy to cook with and can bulk up any recipe. Check out our recipe of the month for inspiration.