10 ways to a healthier you
This time we spill the beans on why you should ensure these lovely legumes are part of your diet. Pulses are the edible seeds of plants with a pod, such as lentils, chickpeas and beans. They're great for providing protein, starchy carbohydrate, fibre and a number of vitamins and minerals. They’re also an excellent source of soluble fibre, which may help lower blood cholesterol.
Did you know that pulses are also gluten free, have a low glycaemic index (GI), and an impressive list of important minerals and, crucially, protein and iron? This makes them a useful alternative to meat in the diet as they’re much lower in fat and much cheaper too! If you’re watching the calories, go for butter beans – just 77 calories per 100g – or, to fill you up, half a large tin of red kidney beans, which provides more than 40% of your recommended daily fibre intake.
What counts as pulses?
'Mexican' Pinto beans
Red split lentils
Nicola’s top tips
Our Nutritionist Nicola Selwood, shares her top tips on adding more pulses to your diet.
Make sure you cook pulses properly
Dried kidney beans and soya beans both contain natural toxins. If not cooked properly, these can cause tummy upsets and affect digestion. It’s vital to follow the instructions on the pack regarding how long you need to soak and then cook them. Tinned beans are ready to use and don’t need extra cooking unless specified. If you have leftovers, cool quickly, refrigerate (or freeze) and use within two days.
Hit your 5-a-day target
Around three tablespoons of pulses count as one of your five a day. They’re ideal instead of meat, or to bulk out dishes that do have meat. That way you use less meat, which reduces the fat content, and the cost too.
Eat a variety
Unlike meat, fish and eggs, pulses don't provide all the essential amino acids that make up protein, so eat them alongside wholegrain bread and rice, which will provide the missing ones.
Be inspired with our healthy eating ideas...