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Global Pulse Day: The humble pulse enjoys increased profile

Saturday February 10, is Global Pulse Day!

The humble pulse, we’re talking chickpeas, beans and lentils, has been working on its profile in recent years.

Shaking off their once-a-week appearance in the traditional chilli con carne, pulses are now a part of the everyday lives of many Australians – turning up regularly at all mealtimes.

The Grains and Legumes Nutrition Council (GLNC) say International Pulse Day, on Saturday February 10, is a chance to celebrate everything that make pulses so popular.

Not only are pulses versatile they are also nutritional powerhouses. Pulses, or legumes, as they are also known, offer significant health benefits including protection against chronic diseases, assistance with weight management and assistance in maintaining good gut health.

Pulses are universally recommended as part of a healthy diet and feature prominently in diets of some of the longest-lived human cultures in the world.

Strong international demand for Australian pulses, in particular for chickpeas and lentils in India, has helped drive recent expansion in the Australian pulse production sector.
John Eastburn, Pulse farmer and chair of Grain Growers Limited

The Nielsen market research company noted last year that the increasing interest in pulses goes beyond those people following a vegetarian or vegan diet.
 
Australian consumers and around the world are increasingly consuming pulses as good sources of protein, iron, folate, zinc, potassium and fibre, among others.

Importantly, pulses also play an important role in the farming systems of Australian grain growers.

Pulse farmer and chair of Grain Growers Limited, John Eastburn explained:

“Used as ‘break crops’ between cereal and oilseed crops, pulses help farmers break disease cycles and naturally fix soil nitrogen.

He said 60 per cent of Australian pulses were exported to markets like India, Bangladesh, Egypt, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. 

“Strong international demand for Australian pulses, in particular for chickpeas and lentils in India, has helped drive recent expansion in the Australian pulse production sector,” Mr Eastburn said.
 
Australia exported nearly 1.2 million tonnes of chickpeas to India in 2016/17, up from just 457 thousand tonnes five years earlier. During the past five years India has bought more than 50 per cent of Australia’s pea and chickpea crops, nearly 40 per cent of Australia’s mungbeans and 20 per cent of Australian lentils.

Mr Eastburn encouraged all Australians to eat more pulses.
 
“The result would be a win-win for Australians, farmers and the environment.

Check out tips to celebrate Global Pulse Day here.

Celebrate Global Pulse Day on social media using the hashtags #GlobalPulseDay or #LovePulses

How much should I be eating?

Source: Grain & Legumes Nutrition Council

Pulses like chickpeas, lentils and kidney beans are full of nutrients, inexpensive and important for health and well-being. Consumption of 100g or ½ cup of pulses at least three times a week is recommended to maintain good health.

So how do I add more legumes into my diet?

Enjoying legumes as part of a healthy habit is easier than you might think thanks to these tips from the Grain and Legumes Nutrition Council.

  • Use hummus instead of mayonnaise in a sandwich
  • Substitute a mix of kidney beans and red lentils for half the mince in your next spaghetti bolognaise or chilli
  • Mix in a handful of black beans or lentils when cooking scrambled eggs
  • Try whizzing a handful of cannellini beans into a fruit smoothie
  • Use mashed cooked brown lentils in a nutty bliss ball mix

Why not try something new with these legumes…

Chickpeas offer a creamy texture and mild taste and make a great base for soaking up flavours.

Try something new with chickpeas: why not mix up your hummus with additions like sundried tomatoes, feta or cooked sweet potato or why not try the latest foodie trend, sweet hummus!

Source: Grain & Legumes Nutrition Council

Black beans have a delicious meaty texture and make a great addition to burgers or as a mince substitute in chilli.

Try something new with black beans: use them to add a fudgy texture to black bean brownies.

Source: Grain & Legumes Nutrition Council

Lupins are slowly making their mark in the world of legumes due to their incredible versatility - they can be eaten fresh and lupin flour and flakes can be used to up the protein and fibre content when baking.

Try something new with lupins: use a mix of lupin flakes and oats for a nutritious homemade muesli

Source: Grain & Legumes Nutrition Council

Top tips for prepping and storing your legumes

  • Cooking dried legumes (or pulses) in large batches is easy and cost-effective - simply freeze individual portions of cooked legumes for up to three months for ready-to-use convenience.
  • When using canned legumes, rinse contents thoroughly to reduce sodium content by more than 40%.
  • Soaking dried legumes for an hour or two, or overnight if you have time, ensures that they're easier to digest and maximises nutrient bio-availability. Split peas and lentils don't need to be soaked.
  • Store cooked, cooled legumes in an airtight container in the fridge for no more than 3 days - this applies whether they're from a can or cooked at home.

Source: Grain & Legumes Nutrition Council
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