10.02.2023 |

Let's talk about the benefits of pulses

Pulses are great - and colourful (Photo: CC0)

On February 10th, World Pulses Day is celebrated – at least by those who know about the importance of chickpeas, beans and lentils as a powerful and nutritious ally against climate change. Since the celebration of the International Year of Pulses in 2016, each year on this date, fans of the superfood have been trying to raise public awareness of the nutritional and environmental benefits of pulses as part of sustainable food production. In line with this year’s theme “Pulses for a Sustainable Future”, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) highlights how pulses, the edible seeds of leguminous plants, can provide a better life for farmers in water-scarce environments since they have a low water footprint and can better tolerate drought and climate-related disasters. “Pulses contribute in diverse ways towards the transformation of our agrifood systems, and can help us address multiple global crises,” said FAO Director-General, QU Dongyu in a press release published on February 10th. “Pulses can contribute to increasing the resilience of farming systems, help to improve soil biodiversity, and are crucial components of multiple cropping systems,” he added.

Here are the main aspect FAO mentions in its eulogy to pulses: Pulses create economic opportunities for smallholder farmers as they typically offer better profit margins than cereals. For farmers, pulses are an important crop because they can both sell them and consume them, which helps farmers maintain household food security and creates economic stability. The nitrogen-fixing properties of pulses can improve soil fertility, which improves and extends the productivity of farmland and reduces the need to apply synthetic fertilizers. When cereals are grown after pulses in agricultural cropping systems, they can yield 1.5 tonnes more per hectare than those in monocropping systems. Moreover, pulses can help mitigate climate change by increasing the soil’s ability to store carbon and by restoring poor and degraded soils. In addition, pulses are rich in nutrients, minerals, B-vitamins, making them an ideal source of protein particularly in regions where other protein sources are not available or economically accessible. They are low in fat and rich in soluble fiber, which can lower cholesterol and help in the control of blood sugar. While beans, chickpeas and peas are the most well-known and commonly consumed types of pulses, there are several other lesser-known varieties from around the world such as vetches, lupins, and Bambara beans, all beneficial for food security, nutrition, health, climate change, and biodiversity. So stop reading and prepare a delicious meal with pulses. (ab)

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