Pulses continue to gain recognition as a food ingredient of the future. Significant health, nutrition and sustainability benefits along with increasing consumer interest are certainly good motives for consumer packaged goods companies, bakeries and others to put pulses on their research and development roadmap. Not to mention, they’re also a versatile and affordable ingredient.
What are Pulses?
Part of the legume family, pulses are the edible seed within the pod. Annual crops yield between one and 12 grains or seeds. They come in various shapes, sizes and colors. In addition, these low-fat healthy grains are packed with protein and fiber. According to the Global Pulse Confederation, one cup of cooked lentils contains 18 grams of protein, 1 gram of fat and 16 grams of fiber.
Pulses come in several varieties. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), recognizes 11 types of pulses. Some of the most common types of pulses are beans, lentils, chickpeas and split peas.
Popularity of Pulses
Nutritious and great for healthy cooking. In addition to high levels of protein and fiber, pulses have essential vitamins and minerals like iron, potassium and folate. Not only are they good for you, but they are easy to cook with or utilize for product innovation – think everything from pasta and flour blends to snack bars and cereals.
Good for the environment and better economic stability. Pulse crops require less water, decrease greenhouse gas emissions, improve soil health, and contribute to a smaller carbon footprint. They can improve cropping systems simply by converting nitrogen in the air into a plant available nutrient – a great way to reduce the need for nitrogen fertilizers.
Agricom International states, “Pulses create stronger food security, reduce price volatility, and create higher return to the world’s growers. They are a more affordable source of protein and will play a major role in meeting the food needs of the world’s growing population.”
Consumers want healthy alternatives. Consumers today are looking for protein varieties to reach their weight management, health and nutritional goals. Industry experts explain pulses can help lower cholesterol, blood pressure and manage blood sugar levels. As more consumers increase their preference for vegetable-based proteins, so accelerates the protein enrichment trend. Therefore, pulses can be a logical and potentially cost-effective choice for protein alternatives.
In addition to the benefits already mentioned, pulses are suited for meeting the needs of allergen-sensitive consumers; an audience that continues to grow each year. This is significant for rapidly growing categories such as healthy snacks. Pulses used in healthy snacks are free from common allergens and qualify for most whole and detox diets. With 8% growth in 2016, pulses are on track to join other mainstream healthy snacks.
Read more in this Baking Business article that highlights industry efforts around the functionality of pulse ingredients and how they can help meet consumer needs.
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Agricom International: https://www.agricom.com/pulses-thefutureoffood-2/