Pulses for Healthy People and a Healthy Planet: Emerging research and opportunities

By Amy R. Beaudreault
Nutrition and Health Director, World Food Center

Around the world, people are celebrating the contribution of pulses in people and planetary health.

The name pulse originates from the Latin puls, which means thick porridge. Pulses represent 12 crops of grain legumes, which include dry beans, dry peas, chickpeas and lentils. They fall under the umbrella of the more than 13,000 species of legumes, which are plants that have fruit enclosed in a pod.

As a nutrient-dense, low-fat protein source, pulses provide the world affordable nutrition with many health benefits—and, health for the planet because they are nitrogen-fixing crops and are water-efficient crops, using 10-50 percent less water compared to other sources of proteins. Despite these positive attributes, pulses often are forgotten in agricultural and nutrition research because historically funding focused on corn, wheat and rice.

This is why the United Nations declared 2016 the International Year of Pulses. This global public awareness campaign is taking place from Rome to Zambia, and here in San Diego at the American Society for Nutrition’s Scientific Sessions at Experimental Biology 2016. The pulse-centered sessions commence at a satellite lunch symposium on Saturday (12:45-2:45, Room 33BC) sponsored by the American Pulse Association, the U.S. Dry Pea and Lentil Council, Pulse Canada and the World Food Center at University of California, Davis.

“Pulses for Healthy People and a Healthy Planet: Emerging Research and Opportunities” features presentations by Joanne Slavin, PhD, on the role of pulses in dietary guidelines and Julianne Curran, PhD, the state of research and opportunities related to health claims for pulses. Chickpeas are the focus of two presentations with Douglas Cook, PhD, who will provide a harvesting perspective for climate resilience,
biotic stress, and nutrient density. And, Volker Mai, PhD, presents findings on roasted chickpeas possible
influence on the microbiota. Monday’s posters presentations will include a category on pulse nutrition and health and Tuesday’s minisymposium (10:30, Room 30B) showcases eight research

Join us this year at The American Society for Nutrition’s Scientific Sessions at Experimental Biology sessions on pulses to learn more about why these little beans are healthy not only to us, but for the planet. 

This was originally published in Nutrition Notes Daily by the American Society for Nutrition.