trending in nutrition for the new year? Here’s a big one:
The United Nations has declared 2016 the International Year of
Pulses. Not the kind of pulse you take to find your heart
rate. Pulses are crops of legumes such as lentils, beans, peas
and peanuts that are harvested and dried for food. These foods
are a critical part of our world’s food basket, says the UN’s
Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO).
Besides being nutrition powerhouses, pulse crops are good for
the environment. They have the ability to "fix"
nitrogen — they change nitrogen in the atmosphere into a
useful form from which protein is made. Ounce for ounce, they
provide twice the protein of wheat and three times the protein
crops are also shelf stable — they can be stored for long
periods of time without spoiling or losing their nutritional
other good reasons to eat more of these foods in 2016,
according to the US Dry Bean Council:
good for your heart. Unlike many animal-based proteins, beans
are naturally low in fat and are free of harmful saturated and
trans fats. And they contain no cholesterol.
reduce your risk for certain cancers. Antioxidant nutrients
and naturally occurring plant "phyto" chemicals in
beans have been shown to be effective fighters against the
growth of certain types of cancer, including colon, stomach
and endometrial cancer.
help keep blood sugars in balance. Legumes and beans are
considered low glycemic index foods; the carbohydrates they
contain are digested slowly. That makes them a good choice for
people with diabetes. (Note: Beans are also high in potassium,
which may need to be limited in people with diabetes-related
help you keep your girlish (or manly) figure. Legumes, beans
and peas are an excellent source of dietary fiber. Research
shows that people who eat more fiber tend to weigh less.
improve vitality and longevity. Legumes, beans and peas are
rich in protein and complex carbohydrates that maintain muscle
strength and endurance. And they are rich in vitamins and
minerals that work together to produce and sustain energy.
help build healthy babies. Pulses are rich in folate — a B
vitamin critical for fetal brain and spinal cord development.
Adequate intake of folate during pregnancy can prevent certain
types of birth defects known as neural tube defects.
provide important nutrients for people with food allergies or
intolerances. For example, beans and lentils do not contain
gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. Pulse foods
can therefore be enjoyed by people with celiac disease or
other gluten intolerances.
these foods are good for the body and easy on the pocketbook;
literally the best nutritional buy in the whole supermarket.
Have a happy and health-filled new year!