2016: International Year of Pulses

Pulses? Beans, lentils, peas, chickpeas. 2016 is the International Year of Pulses, nominated by the 68th UN General Assembly with the aim of informing the public about the many benefits of eating pulses and encouraging people to add them to their food chain.

The International Year of Pulses aims to increase awareness of the benefits of eating pulses, increasing global production and providing better food security and better nutrition for consumers. Increased production of pulses provides valuable nitrogen for the soil, making it more fertile.

Pulses are annual, leguminous crops which yield grains or seeds in a pod, harvested for dry grain. Examples are lentils, peas, beans and chickpeas and they are a good source of non-animal proteins, high in amino acids. A diet rich in pulses is a diet which addresses obesity and helps prevent coronary heart disease, diabetes and even cancer.

The main advantage of pulses is that they are a source of protein and are not chemically processed food

The evils of processed food

Processed foods are as a rule high in sugar content and in fructose syrup, providing a lot of calories and no essential nutrients. A diet high in processed foods can lead to insulin resistance, high levels of cholesterol and triglycerides and a fatty liver, creating the conditions for cancer, heart disease, diabetes and obesity.

Processed foods and drinks have an added inbuilt trap - they are satisfying and instantly rewarding, meaning they stimulate the taste buds and create craving for more. Many of them are engineered, removing nutrients and replacing them with artificial flavoring which stimulates the brain, bypassing our body's natural energy balance mechanisms making people consume more than their body needs. Obesity is the result.

Apart from this, chemically processed food contains artificial ingredients whose main aim is to cause addiction, prevent the food from deteriorating (preservatives), give an artificial color (colorants), give the food an artificial flavor (flavoring) or an artificial texture (texturants).

If we are what we eat, then it makes sense to consume healthy, fresh produce, meaning five portions of fruit and vegetables daily, no processed food, more pulses and less meat.

John Whitehouse


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Author`s name Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey