BY TORI NICOLLI, MS, DTR
With the new year comes new fads, and 2016 is no different. We’re already in February, and it’s become clear that there are certain topics and trends in the field of nutrition that seem to be getting more and more attention as the days go by. This week’s notable nutrition trend that we think will continue to stick around: pulses!
According to the United Nations, 2016 is now officially the International Year of Pulses (IYP). For those of you unfamiliar with the term, pulses are edible seeds that grow in a pod. Think: beans, lentils, and peas.
So why, exactly, are they good for you? They’re an inexpensive way to add bulk to your plate and diet. Not only are they a good source of heart-healthy fiber, but pulses are also high in protein. This is especially important for those who may not be consuming adequate amounts of protein, perhaps because they don’t eat meat, fish, or dairy products.
Still, that doesn’t meant those who eat meat should avoid them! They’re an excellent alternative to animal products, offering enough protein and fiber to keep you satiated after a meal. We recommend trying a meatless dish, such as a vegetarian lentil soup.
Pulses are also high in iron. By adding a splash of Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) prior to eating, you’ll increase the amount of iron your body absorbs with this non-heme source. Lemon, lime, red peppers, broccoli, grapefruits, and oranges are all good sources of Vitamin C, and are great additions to include with your meals.
Finally, a serving of pulses (~ 3 heaping tablespoons) counts as one of your 5 A Day. Though you should note that no matter how many servings of pulses you eat, it only counts as one of your five recommended servings of fruits and vegetables each day. This is because they contain fewer nutrients when compared to other fruits and vegetables. So go ahead and eat up! Just remember to include some other veggies with your meals.