By Alyssa Trautman, MS, RD, LD, Parkland Health Center dietitian
What exactly are “pulses” and why should you be eating them?
Pulses are the seeds of legume plants – think dry beans, lentils and peas. Pulses are prevalent in diets around the world, especially countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. This is why pulses are nicknamed “the backbone of the Mediterranean diet” – a diet that is often recommended for weight loss or improving heart health. While pulses are certainly “heart healthy,” they host a number of other nutritional benefits -- one of which is they are great source of fiber.
There is no greater nutrient for colorectal health than fiber, but unfortunately the American diet is falling short. The recommended intake is 28 grams of fiber daily, a recommendation that most people do not come close to reaching.
In addition to being high in fiber, pulses also tend to be inexpensive compared to other high-fiber foods like nuts, fresh fruits and vegetables – another reason to pick pulses!
Don’t be intimated by pulses! You may already be familiar with them in your diet. For example, hummus and falafel are made with chickpeas, a popular pulse. And pasta e fagioli and minestrone soup both feature pulses! Try including pulses in your diet with this flavorful recipe!
Cucumber with Chickpea Salad with Citrus
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 16-oz can garbanzo beans, drained
- ½ cup tomato, chopped
- ¼ cup red onion, diced
- 1 rib celery, sliced
- 1 cucumber, chopped
- 2 tbsp fresh dill, chopped
- 1 ½ tsp red wine vinegar
- ½ lemon, juiced
- ½ lime, juiced
- 1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
- Cracked pepper to taste
- Heat 2 tbsp of the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in beans, cover and turn off heat. Set aside.
- Gently toss all remaining ingredients in a large salad bowl. Add beans.
- Serve topped with additional parsley if desired.
Nutrient analysis per serving:
Calories: 228; Total fat: 12g; Cholesterol: 0mg; Sodium: 260mg; Total carbohydrates: 26g; Dietary fiber: 10g; Sugars: 3g; Protein: 6g