Here’s why 2016 is the international year of a food you’ve never heard of.
You’ve probably been eating pulses most of your life – you just didn’t know it. Pulses are a type of dried legume seed, such as beans, chickpeas, lentils and peas, and they are packed with protein, fiber and minerals, but devoid of fat. Trying to shed light on this under-appreciated food staple, the United Nations has declared 2016 the International Year of Pulses, calling them “nutritious seeds for a sustainable future.”
Here are 5 things you need to know about this mysterious food.
- All pulses are legumes, but not all legumes are pulses. Legumes consist of three types: 1) pulses, 2) fresh beans and peas, 3) soybeans and peanuts.
- They pack a nutrient punch: According to the U.N., pulses have double the amount of protein found in wheat and triple the amount found in rice. They are also rich in micronutrients, amino acids and b-vitamins.
- Pulses are environmentally friendly. They put nitrogen back into the soil while growing, reducing the need for chemical fertilizers. They also use less water to grow than other protein sources, such as beef or pork.
- Pulses have been part of people’s diets for millennia. Ancient civilizations in Egypt, the Mediterranean and Mesopotamia as far back as 3300 BC were cultivating and eating pulses.
- With so many varieties, pulses are part of countless recipes, especially as a meat substitute. Whip up a batch of hummus, chili, soup or falafel to start celebrating the Year of Pulses right!