An annual global United Nations event, the World Pulses Day is observed on 10 February to recognise the importance of pulses as a worldwide food source. World Pulses Day is an occasion to increase awareness of the nutritional advantages of pulses and their commitment to food production and a world without starvation.
In recognising pulses for their crucial role in achieving the detailed set of shared and transcendent goals and objectives in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, this celebration of pulses acknowledges their importance in pursuing peace.
The 2022 World Pulses Day’s theme will be: “Pulses to empower youth in achieving sustainable agrifood systems”.
For this reason, the programme of the event is focused on testimonies and perspectives of youth organisations’ representatives. The pulses sector includes a wide range of actors, employing rural women and youth in farming communities and urban families in the manufacturing industry. Pulses, therefore, contribute to creating livelihood opportunities and equity, which are also essential for sustainable agrifood systems.
What are Pulses?
Pulses are dry-harvested edible seeds produced by legume plants. Foods that fall into pulses primarily include chickpeas, beans, lentils, and dry peas. High in protein and fibre, they are also a healthy source of vitamins and amino acids. A healthy diet containing them is increasingly recognised throughout the world, though they are most popular in developing countries.
Pulses are considered one of the most continuous farming practices. They use just 43 gallons of water per pound, compared to 216 gallons for soybeans and 368 for peanuts. Furthermore, they improve the absorption of carbon in the soil, resulting in better quality and enrichment of the ground.
Although pulses are a dominant crop in developing countries, there is a massive difference between the productivity of crops in and around the developing world. Pulses remain an excellent crop choice for farmers in developing nations with improved varieties and better management techniques.
About 25 per cent of pulses are fed to animals, primarily poultry and pigs. Pulses are a reliable source of nutrition, provide for livestock and soil sustainability and play an increasingly important role in ensuring food security.
8 Top Health Benefits of Pulses
Pulses are packed with essential nutrients. Therefore, they are regarded as an excellent addition to a healthy diet. Their consumption is a familiar ritual in many cultures and part of their cultural heritage. They are rarely mentioned outside of their use in soups on a winter day in other parts of the world. The benefits of pulses are:
- Excellent sources of nourishment: Pulses are rich in minerals and vitamins. A balanced diet should contain a variety of nutrients from these sub-groups. Pulses are a rich source of calcium, folate, fibre, and potassium, all of which the body needs to function and stay healthy.
- Healthy heart: Pulses are one of the nutrient-dense foods. As a result, they help to improve heart health as they reduce harmful cholesterol levels. They lessen the risk of heart attacks and cholesterol-based heart disease. The high potassium and low sodium content of the pulse also regulate blood pressure.
- Reduce blood sugar: Although pulses contain complex carbohydrates, they have a low glycemic index (GI), meaning they do not cause your blood glucose levels to rise. Eight medications that control high blood sugar levels can be found in pulses such as beans, chickpeas, and green grams.
- Helps control appetite: Pulses contain a high amount of fibre, complex carbohydrates, and proteins but are low in fat, which slows down digestion and gives you a feeling of fullness. Iron helps transport oxygen throughout the body and promotes steady, slow-burning energy. It also boosts your metabolism. The fibre in pulses facilitates stool transit and increases stool volume.
- Stimulant for the body: You can get protein and calcium from dried beans, chickpeas, lentils, and peas by eating them regularly. If you are a vegetarian, you can skip seafood and non-vegetarian food by consuming all types of pulses. As you grow, pulses become essential for your body. These nutrients are crucial to the growth and development of the adolescent body. Children with low weight, weakness, or quickly falling sick need to include pulses in their daily diet.
- Reduce the risk of chronic diseases: The health benefits of pulses can be attributed to their rich nutrient profile. Several illnesses can also be prevented by the antioxidant content present in them. Since they are rich in fibre, they also contribute to healthy digestion. A diet rich in pulses may help control blood sugar levels since they are low in GI.
- Healthy food choices during pregnancy: Pregnant women can meet their nutritional needs by consuming seeds rich in iron and folate. You can produce healthy red blood cells by including pulses in your daily diet. Studies suggest that consuming pulses during pregnancy contributes to preventing neural tube defects.
- Prevents the Risk of Cancer: Anti-inflammatory agents and antioxidants present in pulses reduce cancer risk. According to studies, selenium in pulses minimises the growth of tumours. Furthermore, it keeps our bodies healthy by stimulating our immunity.
A wide variety of pulses is grown worldwide. The most popular are dry beans, chickpeas, kidney beans, lentils, black beans, rice beans, and mung beans. The low cost and wide availability of pulses make them a poor man’s food. Nevertheless, pulses offer more benefits than expensive protein supplements.
Farmers’ livelihoods and the environment are both benefited by pulses. Most of them rely on subsistence agriculture. We must rediscover pulses to give them an active role in our sustainable future. Like unlocking an ancient secret, pulses have been around for centuries.
Payal Mathur, YUVA Intern and PhD Research Scholar, Amity University, Rajasthan, India