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The health benefits of pulses. Plus, 10 ways to use them

lentils, kidney beans, chickpeas, borlotti beans, black eye beans, adzuki, puy lentils

Whether you have dried or canned beans hiding in your pantry, or frozen peas or edamame lurking in your freezer, pulses are budget-friendly nutrition powerhouses that can make any meal better. Healthy Food Guide looks at the health benefits of pulses and legumes and shows you 10 of the best ways to use them.

Pulses, such as chickpeas, lentils, peas and beans are are the edible seeds that grow in the pods of certain plants from the legume family.

Pulses are dried, or in some cases, such as peas, frozen or eaten fresh. Research has found pulses to be useful in protecting against various cancers, managing blood sugar, lowering risk for type 2 diabetes and heart disease, and they may be useful in weight management.

They are particularly rich in soluble fibre which may help reduce blood cholesterol and manage blood sugar levels.

The high-fibre content of pulses makes them an excellent food for keeping your gut bacteria healthy and happy.

Because they are a source of both fibre and protein, they help you feel full for longer and are an excellent way to bulk out meals, helping you keep your grocery costs down.

Try replacing some or all of the red meat in dishes with pulses, to reduce the cost as well as calories and saturated fat.

They’re an essential part of balanced vegetarian and vegan diets. Pulses contain B vitamins, potassium, calcium, iron, phosphorus and manganese. And they count towards your daily vegetable serves.

10 ways to include legumes and pulses every day:

1 Create a delicious dhal that uses dried red split lentils, pumpkin, chopped tomatoes, herbs and aromatic spices.

2 Swap the beef mince in your usual taco or nachos recipe for canned black beans. Delicious — and healthy!

3 Add canned cannellini beans and spinach to pasta for a stress-free midweek dinner.

4 Use canned red kidney beans to whip up a batch of spicy chilli con carne. Divide the batch into containers and freeze for easy winter dinners.

5 Prepare a quick, warm salad with cooked dried French lentils, roasted root vegetables and goat’s cheese.

6 Toss a can of four-bean mix into a garden salad and enjoy a more satisfying side.

7 Blend thawed frozen peas with ricotta, parmesan and lemon for a creamy pasta sauce.

8 Whip up a moreish snack by pan-frying canned chickpeas (drained) in a teaspoon of olive oil and dried mixed herbs until they become crispy.

9 Put a fresh spin on hummus with thawed frozen edamame beans in place of more traditional chickpeas. (Both are super healthy!)

10 If you’re looking for an easy lunch that will help keep hunger at bay, throw together a salad that uses canned lentils, shallots, cucumber and tomato, dressed with a glug of extra-virgin olive oil. Beat the 3pm slump!

First published: Jul 2020

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