What is a pulse?

What is a pulse?

Pulses are the dried edible seeds of certain plants in the legume family. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) recognizes 11 types of pulses grown worldwide. The four main types of pulses grown in Canada are dry peas, lentils, beans and chickpeas. Pulses are very high in protein and fibre, and are low in fat. Pulses are also nitrogen-fixing crops that improve the environmental sustainability of annual cropping systems. Pulses come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colours and can be consumed in many forms including whole or split, ground in to flours or separated into fractions such as protein, fibre and starch.

Other foods in the legume family like fresh beans and peas are not considered pulses – the term “pulse” only refers to the dried seed. Soybeans and peanuts are also not considered pulses because they have a much higher fat content, whereas pulses contain virtually no fat.

Five reasons to love pulses


  1. Pulses contribute to better nutrition and health

Pulses are a low-fat source of protein, fibre and essential vitamins and minerals like iron, potassium and folate.

  1. Pulses are a heart-healthy food choice

Research has shown that eating pulses regularly can lower cholesterol, reduce blood pressure and help with body weight management, which are all risk factors for heart disease.

  1. Pulses can help prevent or manage diabetes

Eating pulses does not cause blood sugar levels to rise as much as sugary or starchy foods that are low in fibre. Maintaining normal blood sugar levels reduces the risk of developing diabetes and helps people with diabetes avoid further health problems.

  1. Eating pulses can help the environment

Greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture, in large part, come from nitrogen fertilizers. Pulses require little or no nitrogen fertilizer to grow, and they use ½ to ⅒ the amount of water that it takes to produce other sources of protein.

  1. Pulses are an affordable source of protein

Source: Pulse Canada. To learn more about pulses, visit: www.pulsecanada.com