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2016 Is the International Year of Pulses

What are “pulses”?

Pulses are part of the legume family, but the term “pulse” refers to the dried seed. When you think pulses, think of beans.

Peas, chick peas, kidney beans – all provide a healthy source of protein; all are considered “pulses”, and all are part of the 2016 International Year of Pulses (IYP) campaign, launched by the 68th United Nations General Assembly .

According to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the purpose behind IYP is:

…to heighten public awareness of the nutritional benefits of pulses as part of sustainable food production aimed towards food security and nutrition.

Assortment of different types of beans

So, how do pulses impact our community?

Aside from the obvious nutritional benefits, planting and growing pulses:

  • Improves soil fertility – which is good for the environment
  • Are relatively cheap to purchase
  • Are highly nutritious – which can prevent/or help manage chronic diseases like diabetes

Check out some of the additional nutritional value that beans have as well as some great recipes to try!

Beans Health

Beans pack a nutritional punch. They are a low cost way of getting a lot of nutrients. There is plenty of research showing that eating beans and legumes on a regular basis helps with maintaining health and preventing chronic diseases.

Complex Carbohydrates

  • Beans are a source of good carbohydrates.
  • Since beans have more fiber and protein, they have a low glycemic index, making them a good choice for people with diabetes.

Dietary Fiber

  • Beans are rich in both soluble and insoluble fibers.
  • Fiber helps keep you full for a longer time, preventing blood sugar fluctuations.
  • Soluble fiber helps lower cholesterol.
  • Insoluble fiber combats constipation, colon cancer, & other digestive issues.


  • Beans are a good source of cholesterol-free plant-based protein and have been identified as a meat alternative by the USDA My Plate.
  • Beans contain between 21 to 25% protein by weight, which is much higher than other sources of vegetable protein.
  • Regular intake of beans is extremely important worldwide as they provide a good source of protein at a low cost compared to animal protein sources.

Essential Vitamins and Minerals

  • Beans are good sources of potassium, a mineral that promotes healthy blood pressure levels.
  • Beans are excellent sources of copper, phosphorus, manganese & magnesium.
  • Beans are rich sources of iron.
  • Dry beans are an excellent source of riboflavin & B vitamins.

Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup

Yield: 8 cups


  • Black bean soup3 cups dried black beans, soaked in 8 cups of water for 8-12 hours, then drained and rinsed
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 red onion, finely diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 inch piece ginger, grated
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 tsp. cumin powder, optional
  • ½ tsp. dried oregano
  • ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 8 cups water
  • Salt to taste


  1. In a skillet, over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil. Add the onion and red pepper. Sauté the vegetables for 4-5 minutes, just until the onions are translucent. Add the tomatoes, garlic and ginger, and stir for 1 minute, until the garlic is fragrant.
  2. Put the black beans into the slow cooker. Add the pepper and onion mixture. Add all ingredients except the cilantro. Cook the soup in the crock-pot for 8 hours on low or 4 hours on high.
  3. Add the cilantro before serving.

Spinach with Chickpeas Recipe

Servings: 6


  • 2 pounds baby spinach
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium red onion, finely chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 19-ounce can chickpeas, drained & rinsed
  • 1 ½  teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 ½  teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 ½  teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½  teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ½  cup reduced-sodium chicken broth, or vegetable broth


  1. In a skillet, over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil. Add the onion and sauté till translucent.
  2. Add in the spinach, a small batch at a time till all the spinach is wilted and nicely coated with the oil.
  3. Add in all the other ingredients. Cook for 1-2 minutes.
  4. Serve warm with whole wheat pita bread or over a bed of cooked brown rice.

About Parul Kharod, MS, RD, LDN

Parul is a Clinical Dietitian in Outpatient Nutrition Services at WakeMed Cary Hospital. For information related to diet and nutrition, or to speak to one of our licensed, registered dietitians, contact Outpatient Nutrition Services today. Insurance coverage and costs may vary.