NDSU Extension - Sargent County


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Pass the Pulses, Please!


As the seasons change, perhaps you are game to “change up” your diet, too. If you are ready for some food adventures and wanting to try new flavors, you may be interested in adding foods to your diet that are collectively known as “pulses.” Pulses are a type of legume. The pulse group includes dry peas, lentils, and chickpeas, which are also known as garbanzo beans. According to the USA Dry Pea and Lentil Council, North Dakota is a leading producer of pulse crops in the U.S.

Pulses provide protein, soluble fiber, insoluble fiber, plant chemicals (phytochemicals), folate and other vitamins, and many minerals that play a variety of roles in maintaining good health including iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc. At the same time, pulses contain no cholesterol and little fat or sodium.

For these reasons, pulse foods are increasingly being recognized for their role in promoting good health. Researchers have reported that regular consumption of pulses provides nutrients that may help prevent constipation and birth defects, as well as possibly help reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes and certain types of cancer.

As a result of their nutrient content and other properties, pulses can play a role in these special diets:

gluten-free diet
diabetic diet
vegetarian diet
weight management diet

The 2010 U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends frequent consumption of lentils, dry peas and beans. Pulses can count either toward the “Vegetable Group” recommendation or toward the “Protein Foods Group” recommendation of the Dietary Guidelines at the www.myplate.gov website. That website also offers the option to print a customized-to-you chart of daily food recommendations depending on your age, gender, and physical activity level. When consuming extra fiber, from pulses or any other high-fiber foods or supplements, be sure to drink plenty of fluids.

Pulses are a versatile, easy-to-prepare ingredient that can be used in entrees, salads, breads and desserts. For more information, pulse recipes, and a concise guide to successfully storing, preparing and using pulses, visit http://www.ag.ndsu.edu/pubs/yf/foods/fn1508.pdf, or http://www.ag.ndsu.edu/food/pulse-crops, or contact the extension office and request the pulse resources. If you raise pulse crops, or are interested in doing so, http://www.northernpulse.com/ is a source of reliable information.

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