Nutrition Professionals

Pulses for Better Nutrition

Pulses, also known as chickpeas, lentils, dry peas and beans, are a nutrient-dense choice. As an excellent source of dietary fiber, folate and manganese and a good source of potassium, iron, and plant-based protein, pulses are go-to ingredients for health and wellbeing.

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Affordable, delicious and easy-to-prepare, pulses are ideal in all dietary patterns. Due to their high nutrient content, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) considers pulses to be a part of both the Vegetable Group and Protein Foods Group.

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Excellent Source of Fiber

Both soluble and insoluble, with 4x more fiber than brown rice
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Good Source of Plant-Based Protein

Containing up to 9 grams per serving, twice the protein of quinoa
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Excellent Source of Folate

The B vitamin essential to brain development and function
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Packed with Key Nutrients

Including potassium, magnesium, zinc, B Vitamins and more

Nutrition Facts
per half-cup cooked serving

The 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends consuming 1.5 cups of cooked pulses per week for all 2,000 calorie diets, including the Healthy U.S.-Style, Mediterranean-Style, and Vegetarian dietary patterns.

Beans
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Beans Black Black-Eyed Peas Kidney Lima Navy Pinto
Calories 110 100 110 110 130 125
Total Fat 0.5g 0.5g 0g 0g <1g <1g
Sodium <1mg 15mg <2mg <2mg 0mg <1mg
Carbs 20g 17g 20g 20g 24g 22g
Fiber 8g 3g 7g 7g 10g 8g
Protein 8g 7g 8g 7g 8g 8g
Iron 1.8mg 1.8mg 2.6mg 2.2mg 2.2mg 1.8mg
Potassium 306mg 230mg 357mg 478mg 354mg 373mg
Magnesium 60mg 82mg 40mg 40mg 48mg 43mg
Folate 128mcg 121mcg 115mcg 78mcg 128mcg 147mcg
For more nutrition facts on pulse types and pulse products, check out USDA FoodData Central.

Protein Swaps

Swapping a portion of animal protein for pulses is a great way to save money and stretch out your groceries.
Swaptions include:

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Replacing a portion of beef with kidney, red, pinto or black beans
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Swapping ground chicken with mashed chickpeas or red lentils
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Combining yellow or green split peas with ground pork or sausage
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Swapping a portion of white fish with mashed chickpeas or white beans

Pulses and Their Role in Health

Studies have shown that increased consumption of pulses is associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, Type 2 Diabetes, overweight/obesity and certain types of cancer.

Weight Management

The combination of key nutrients, particularly satiating protein and fiber, helps keep you feeling fuller, longer, and aids in digestion. A 2016 study showed that individuals who added more pulses to their diet lost weight, even if they weren’t restricting calories.

Heart Health

Research shows that regularly eating pulses may help lower blood cholesterol, reduce blood pressure and help promote a healthy body weight, all key factors in maintaining cardiovascular health.

Diabetes Management

Pulses are high in dietary fiber and have a low Glycemic Index, meaning they can assist in maintaining healthy blood glucose and insulin levels. A Clinical Nutrition study showed that participants who had a high intake of pulses had a 35% lower risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes.

Gut Health

Pulses are an excellent source of dietary fiber. Pulses contain both soluble and insoluble and are high in resistant starch, which is considered to be prebiotic food for the gut.

Cancer Prevention

Studies show that consuming a resistant starch, like lentils, with servings of red meat may negate increases in colon cancer markers.

Longevity

Pulses are a key component of the Mediterranean Diet, named the best overall diet for 2020 (U.S. News & World Report). Pulses are also a staple in the diets of Blue Zones, regions recognized around the world for the longevity and health of their communities.

How Pulses Fit in Various Diets and Healthy Eating Patterns

More than 32MM Americans have food allergies, with even more reporting ingredient-specific sensitivities or intolerances. Luckily, pulses are free from the top 9 allergens. They’re also naturally gluten-free, dairy free, Non-GMO, and are vegan and vegetarian friendly. Pulses can easily be swapped with other ingredients to boost nutrient-density of any meal or snack.
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With endless product innovation and recipe swap ideas, here are some common ways to substitute in pulse ingredients for those with common food allergies or dietary restrictions:

Pulse Flours

Substitute wheat flour with pulse flours (like chickpea flour) for protein-dense, gluten-free baking.

Dairy Alternatives

Head to the dairy aisle for dairy-free alternatives like milk, cheese or ice cream, made from sustainable pulses like chickpeas and peas!

Meatless Patties

Vegetarian? Pick up plant-based burgers made with beans or even pea protein.

Pulse Pastas

For a fiber and protein-filled, gluten-free pasta choice, try lentil, bean, pea, or chickpea pasta.

Roasted Pulses

Snack on seasoned roasted pulses for a fiber-filled snack.

Simple Ingredient
Replacements & Swaps

Due to their mild flavor profile, you can easily replace less nutrient-dense recipe ingredients with pulses to add a boost of plant-based protein, fiber and more.
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Nutritious Recipes

Weekly Meal Plan: Buying pulses in bulk? Head here for our weekly meal plan ideas for using up a big batch of beans, chickpeas, lentils or split peas.
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Free Nutrition
Resources & Handouts

Our goal is to provide consumers, nutritionists and dietitians with current data, research studies and resources to better understand the nutrition benefits of pulse ingredients. The following resources are free for your use.