Pulses - Check for It!

Posted: April 11, 2016

Pulses? That is an odd word for food. The word “pulse” comes from the Latin word “puls” which means “thick soup.” It is a word you will be hearing and seeing a good bit in 2016.

Each year the UN selects an issue to bring to the forefront of the world and sometimes food is selected. In the past quinoa, potatoes, and rice were chosen.

Perhaps you know Pulses by another name. They are simply the edible seeds from legumes harvested when the pod has dried. They include dried peas and beans, chickpeas (garbanzo beans), and lentils. In addition to Pulses, the legume family includes vegetable crops such as green beans and green peas, cover crops such as clover and alfalfa and oil seeds such as soybeans and peanuts.

Pulses really pack a punch when it comes to nutrients. They are naturally low in fat and rich in fiber and protein. Iron, potassium, magnesium and other essential nutrients can be obtained from eating Pulses. While the soil source has a direct bearing on the nutrient level of pulses, in general a ½ cup of cooked beans or lentils will provide more iron and protein than peas.

Pulses are a unique food in that they cross over two food groups-protein and vegetables. According to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines it is recommended that adults consume 1 to 2 cups of Pulses per week. For people consuming a vegetarian diet 6 to 8 cups of legumes, including Pulses, is recommended per week according to the “Healthy Vegetarian Food Plan.

Compared to animal protein, such as beef, pork or poultry, Pulses are easier on the food budget and more versatile. Both dry and canned are great options. If you purchase canned Pulses you will want to rinse them before use to reduce the sodium content added in the canning process. While rinsing will not eliminate all of the sodium, you can expect a 41% reduction in overall sodium content.

10 reasons to add pulses to your weekly meal plan:

  • Gluten free
  • Excellent source of fiber
  • Good source of protein
  • Low-fat
  • Low sodium
  • Good source of iron
  • Excellent source of folate
  • Low glycemic index
  • Cholesterol free

If you would like to learn more about how to cook with Pulses please visit:

Cooking Dry Beans

Dry Beans

Here is a fun recipe using Pulses. You will be pleasantly surprised by how much you enjoy these brownies.

Black Bean Brownies


  • One box of brownie mix
  • One can (14 oz.) black beans


  1. Drain the beans and rinse with cold water.
  2. Put beans back in can and add enough water to cover the beans.
  3. Puree the beans in a blender.
  4. Add puree to brownie mix and stir well to blend.
  5. Do not add any other ingredients.
  6. Bake according to package directions.

Contact Information

Lenelle Bear
  • Nutrition Links Regional Coordinator, Food, Families and Health
Phone: 717-921-8803