Pulses: It's not about your heartbeat!

Not many people know about pulses and about their benefits. It’s not about the heartbeat!

It starts with the name: many people refer to them as legumes or beans. Pulses are a subgroup of legumes that are dried, edible, and have low fat content. This includes kidney beans, chickpeas, split peas, lentils. The list could be a very long one, as there are many varieties.

During an event held at the FAO Liaison Office for North America on June 23, panelists discussed the benefits of pulses to improve food security and nutrition, human health, soil health, and water efficiency. The panelists also discussed the potentials they offer for small-holder farmers and poor people to generate income and get an affordable source of protein. The facts are surprising. It is even more surprising that we did not discover this “low-hanging fruit” earlier. It has taken the International Year of Pulses (IYP) 2016 to increase awareness and to encourage a discussion about how to promote pulses in our diets, farms, food industry, research, and policy-making.

What do we want to see the IYP 2016 achieve? I want to see greater awareness of the multiple benefits of pulses, increased production and use of this crop, and research. As consumer, I want to see more food based on pulses available in markets and restaurants. As citizen, I want to see pulses recognized for their important health benefits. And I want to see a paradigm shift from pulses being associated with poverty to pulses becoming a trendy crop, widely used in our homes to prepare easy, convenient, tasty, and diverse meals.

I want to invite readers to join me in this journey. Read more about the event at the FAO Liaison Office in Washington D.C.  and visit the IYP 2016 website. The factsheets are particularly useful for those who wish to learn more about the benefits of pulses for nutrition, food security, health, climate change, and biodiversity.

Blog by Senior Liaison Officer at the FAO Liaison Office for North America, Barbara Ekwall.

Slide by FAO Special Ambassador for the International Year of Pulses 2016, Dr. Joyce Boye.