Let’s Celebrate International Year of Pulses

2016 – The International Year of the Pulse
Last November, I attended The Little Beans, Big Opportunities: Realizing the Potential of Pulses to Meet Today’s Global Health Challenges at The New York Academy of Sciences to kick off the International Year of Pulses (IYP). As part of the international marketing campaign for 2016, in recognition of pulses potential to improve diets and global food security, consumers are being urged to consume meals and snacks with beans, lentils, chickpeas and peas.

Health Benefits of Pulses
Dr John Sievenpiper, Staff Physician, St. Michaels Hospital and Associate Professor, Department of Nutritional Sciences, University of Toronto, a speaker at that conference explains, “Consuming a 130 gram serving size of pulses daily can have a beneficial effect on blood lipids, blood pressure and blood sugar which promotes heart health.” However, Sievenpiper cautions that the majority of Canadians are not consuming pulses on a daily basis and welcomes culinary ideas to encourage consumption. Sievenpiper expresses, “In addition to the benefit of cardiovascular health and diabetes, there is new research (to be published later this year) regarding another positive result of daily pulse consumption. Eating pulses promotes satiety which can assist in maintaining a healthy body weight.”

Christopher Marinangeli PhD, RD Director of Nutrition, Scientific and Regulatory Affairs for Pulse Canada also identifies exciting new research on the horizon. Marinangeli describes, “For a number of years, research has focused on the healthful properties of pulses. Recently, this focus has been substantially enhanced. While research continues to pursue the effect of pulses on cardio-metabolic and physiological outcomes, the result of pulses on gastrointestinal health is a relatively new interest. Studies suggest that pulses may help with inflammatory responses associated with colitis (1,2). Although human data are needed to corroborate these preliminary findings, this is an exciting area of research. Another emerging area is the effect of pulses on exercise performance. Specifically, pulse consumption may allow athletes to exercise at a higher intensity for a longer period of time.”

Applications and Recipe Ideas
Pulses have been part of the human diet worldwide for thousands of years. With more emerging health research, along with the trend of increasing plant-based dietary patterns, plus consumer’s demand for gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free and egg-free products, pulses are a simple, nutritious and sustainable solution.

At Canadian Prairie Garden the microcut of the pulses results in a thick, creamy, sterilized paste ready for many applications. Prairie Garden Navy Bean Puree (also referred to as white bean) provides a neutral flavour and colour. Plus it is an excellent source of protein and fibre. They are an easy addition to a wide variety of food products including desserts! Chickpeas are one of the world’s oldest cultivated foods, and are considered a prebiotic food that promotes digestive health. Prairie Garden Chickpea Puree is ready for the addition of hummus specific ingredients or blending into vegetarian dishes and adding protein to pasta and soup.

Canada is the world’s largest exporter of lentils and peas, and a top five bean exporter. The time is now to celebrate IYP and make other scrumptious and nutritious products with pulses and pulse-derived ingredients to encourage the daily consumption across North America!

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Jane Dummer, RD (www.janedummer.com), known as the "Pod to Plate" Food Consultant, collaborates with the food and nutrition industry across North America.