Pulses for The Mass

During the 2013 Sixty-eight annual meet of the United Nations General Assembly, the year 2016 was designated as the International Year of Pulses (IYP).

What is so import about pulses that the United Nations General Assembly compelled to declare 2016 as the Year of Pulses? Other than the familiar meaning of heart rhythmical throbbing or wave pulsation, pulses are the collective name for the dried seeds of the legume family including lentils, various types of beans, chickpeas and dried peas.

Green beans are a type of pulses.

UN hopes the declaration of IYP is able to increase public awareness of the health benefits of pulses as part of the sustainable food production plan to secure food supply and nutrient needed. IYP 2016 aims to foster connections throughout the food supply chain for a better utilization of plant-based proteins, increase production of pulses globally, to better employ suitable crop rotations and to tackle issues associated with the crop trading.

The role of legumes in the advancement of civilization is undeniably important although they are often taken for granted. Since prehistoric, legumes have provided the human with vegetable, grains and pulses, forage and winter silage for the livestock, and green manure for soil enrichment. Their root nodules hosting nitrogen-fixing ground bacteria are particularly beneficial in fertilizing the land and facilitating crop rotation.

Pulses of legumes are rich in protein, complex carbohydrates, dietary fiber, essential minerals but low in fat. Chickpeas and lentils, widely consumed pulses in India continent, are often promoted as very affordable super foods for very good reasons. Of Daily Value requirement, a 100g serving of chickpeas provides 38% of protein, 68% of dietary fiber, 34% of Iron, 28% of Magnesium, 25% of Potassium, 0% cholesterol and 9% total fat. A 100g serving of chicken breast, on the other hand, provide 62% of protein, 0% dietary fiber, 30% VitaminB-6, 7% Magnesium, 28% cholesterol and 5% total fat.

Cultivated legume plants are used for many purposes, as grain, forage, medicine, blooms, green manure/fertilizer, and even as timber sources.

Grounded beans can be used to replace other expensive ingredient without sacrificing on nutrient, taste or texture. For example, carob flour can be used to replace cocoa flour in chocolate cookies. Flour grounded from other beans can also be used to replace common flour in making cakes and bread.

There is another notable advantage of pulses. As they are dried produces with long shelf-live, they can be easily and economically stored and transported throughout the world when needed. Transported pulses are versatile enough they can be used as food or as seeds for future generation. The variety of legume plants is so numerous that there are species suitable to be grown in practically any region with human inhabitant, be it tropical area, temperate regions, savannah or deserts.

As the weather becoming increasingly unpredictable, soil natural nutrient depleting and agriculture land limited, legume plants are an important factor in ensuring sufficient and quality food source for the projected 9 billion people in 2050.