Pulses are the seeds which come from plants known as legumes.
These seeds are dry and edible and are usually contained in a shed or a pod.
Examples of pulses include most varieties of beans, lentils, chickpeas and peas.
What is a legume?
Legumes refers to plants from the Fabaceae family, as well as their fruit and seeds.
Legumes are grown primarily for us to eat and are also used for livestock forage and silage, as well as green manure, which helps to enhance the soil for crop growth.
The words pulses and legumes can really be used interchangeably – they’re one and the same!
Are pulses good for you?
Yes – pulses are small but mighty!
Pulses are an important addition to any balanced diet as they have lots of nutritional value in a small package. They are high in fibre, which helps to support a healthy digestive system and bowel function.
Pulses are low in fat and rich in protein. Protein also helps to maintain and repair muscles and so it’s important to add lots of protein-rich foods into your diet if you live an active lifestyle and do a lot of exercise.
Pulses are great as an alternative source of protein for anyone who is following a vegan diet or if you can’t eat meat, fish, or dairy products.
It is often difficult to ensure that you have eaten your daily recommended allowance of protein without meat, fish or dairy in your diet and so pulses are a great way to increase this.
Pulses can also be a healthy choice for people who do eat meat. When they are added to a dish, they can help reduce the amount of meat you need and therefore lower the overall fat content of the meal.
Why not try substituting half of the meat for lentils, next time you make a curry?
Do pulses count towards your 5-a-day?
Research has shown that there are lots of health benefits to eating a diet that is rich in fruit and vegetables and it is recommended that you eat at least five portions per day.
A portion is measured as 80g and your five-a-day should comprise 5 different types of fruit and vegetables.
There are lots of health benefits to eating your five-a-day, especially as fruit and vegetables are full of the essential vitamins and minerals that your body needs to function.
These include vitamin C, potassium and fibre. Eating a diet rich in fruit and vegetables helps to contribute to normal bowel function.
Good news! Pulses do count towards your 5-a-day recommend allowance of fruit and vegetables.
Three heaped tablespoons of pulses are equivalent to one portion of your daily recommendation.
How can I incorporate lentils in my diet?
There are lots of ways to introduce lentils into your everyday diet, as they are a very versatile ingredient.
Lentils can be used as a meat replacement, or eaten alongside meat. Red split lentils can be added to curries and soups and green lentils give a robust and peppery flavour to your favourite dishes. Lentils can be added to salads or used as a base for fish or meat.
Puy lentils are French lentils which are grown in the region of Le Puy.
They have a peppery flavour and retain their texture when cooked slightly more than other varieties of lentil. They can be eaten with roasted vegetables, in a salad, or with sausages, in a casserole. Puy lentils are also often used in the Indian dish dhal as they make an excellent accompaniment to spices.
Ready meals containing pulses
If you have a busy day ahead of you and cooking a meal from scratch is the last thing on your mind, then Merchant Gourmet’s sachets provide convenient and healthy options for meals containing pulses.
Both are packed full of flavour and can be eaten cold. Alternatively, warm them up in the microwave or pop them into a pan for a quick and easy, but healthy, meal.