Food and Nutrition


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Complete Nutritional Support From Both Grains and Pulses

Recent review looks at the nutritional and health benefits of both beans and grains, and how they complement one another.

Another recent review looks at the nutritional and health benefits of both beans and grains, and how they complement one another. Nutritional components of whole grains include complex carbohydrates offering dietary fiber, starch, and oligosaccharides. Whole grains also offer a low-fat source of protein as well as vitamins and minerals, including vitamin E and magnesium. A recent study referring to whole grain consumption with its content of phytic acid may play a role in dental health. Whole grains also give us carotenoids and lignins. Pulses offer high amounts of fiber (much higher than whole grains), carbohydrates including starch-resistant, and oligosaccharides. They are higher in protein, and as some of the amino acids differ between whole grains and pulses they complement each other when consumed. Another study shows that the glycemic impact of eating refined grains can be mitigated by combining it with beans, as in a meal containing white rice and red beans, or hummus and bread.

Since consumption of these nutrient dense foods falls way below the recommended amounts, ways to increase intake are important. One of the reasons whole grain consumption is lower is because “consumers are confused as to what constitutes a whole-grain product.” For example, a product that states that it contains whole grains but is not listed as the first ingredient can have anywhere between one to 49 percent whole grains. Other reasons why there are issues with consumers getting adequate intake of grains and pulses are that they can be associated with lower socio-economic status, can have a bland taste, can have a tendency to produce flatulence, or a lack of knowledge in their preparation. “Nevertheless, there is a need to establish more convenient delivery systems for pulses in familiar food forms to lower the energy density of these foods and provide health benefits.”

Rebello CJ, Greenway FL, Finley JW. Whole grains and pulses: a comparison of the nutritional and health benefits. J Agr Food Chem 2014;62:7029-7049.


Summarized by the NDSU Extension Service.

Development of many of the materials on this website was made possible, in part, with funding from the Northern Pulse Growers Association.

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