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World Pulses Day 2021: Pulses for Food & Nutritional Security

Vipin Saini
Vipin Saini
World Pulses Day 2021

World Pulses Day is an opportunity to raise awareness of the nutritional benefits of pulses and their contribution to sustainable food systems and a world without hunger. Pulses are critical in addressing the challenges of poverty, food security, human health and nutrition, soil health and environment, thereby contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals and the Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) Hand-in-Hand Initiative. 

Building on the success of the International Year of Pulses in 2016 led by FAO, the United Nations General Assembly designated 10 February as World Pulses Day, which has since been supported by many Member countries. 

Pulses are Nature's Nutritious Seeds: 

  1. Pulses are naturally low in fat and contain no cholesterol, which can contribute to reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases. 

  2. Pulses are also low in sodium. Sodium chloride - or salt - is a contributor to hypertension and can be avoided by consuming foods with lower sodium levels such as pulses. 

  3. They are a great source of plant-based protein. Surprisingly, 100 grams of dry lentils contain a remarkable 25 grams of protein! During cooking, pulses absorb considerable amounts of water thus reducing their protein content to around 8 percent. Yet, you can still increase the protein quality of cooked pulses by simply combining them with cereals in your meal, for example, lentils with rice. 

  1. Pulses are a good source of iron. Iron deficiency is considered one of the most prevalent forms of malnutrition and is one of the most common types of anaemia. To help optimize the absorption of iron in our bodies from pulses, combine them with foods containing vitamin C (lemon juice on lentil curry for example). =

  2. Pulses are high in potassium, which supports heart health and plays an important role for digestive and muscular functions. 

  3. Pulses are often quoted among the top high fibre foods, necessary for supporting digestive health and helping to reduce the risks of cardiovascular diseases. 

  4. Pulses are an excellent source of folate – a B-vitamin naturally present in many foods – that is essential to the nervous system function and especially important during pregnancy to prevent foetal defects. 

  1. Pulses can be stored for a long time and therefore can help to increase the diversity of diets, especially in developing countries. 

  2. Pulses are low glycaemic index foods. They help to stabilize blood sugar and insulin levels, making them suitable for people with diabetes and ideal for weight management. 

  3. Finally, pulses are naturally gluten-free. This makes them an ideal option for coeliacs. 

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