What Are Pulses?

As the world has expanded and globalization has allowed for quicker access to foreign markets, our diets and the foods that make them up have also expanded.

If we were eating the same things that our ancestors had access to, we would not need a supermarket or even a store to buy the produce from, as they could probably fit in one large box.

What Are Pulses?

As such, we have a greater flexibility in deciding just what we eat, including what we eat from which food group. One of the most useful foods to eat are those that are rich in proteins and, while there are several sources, one of the best is that of pulses.

But just what are pulses? Are they plant based food or meat based? In this article, we will explore pulses and tell you exactly what they are and why you should use them.

What Are Pulses?

Pulses are normally known as legumes, and they are the fruit or seed of plants from the Fabaceae family.

Considering it is not normal to highlight a particular fruit or seed from a specific family of plant or tree as apart from the norm – as such requiring its own moniker – the food produced by these plants does deserve a separate title.

This is because the fruit and seeds from this family of plants have a very different nutritional makeup from other plants and – due to the symbiotic relationship they have developed with a nitrogen fixing bacteria – they are vital in crop rotation cycles.

The plants of this family have been cultivated as a food crop for a very long time, way back to the point when it was early in human written history.

Archaeologists have discovered archaic tablets written in Ancient Egyptian and Cuneiform of recipes that involved pulses in them, and there is even evidence of pulse crop production as far back as the Indus Valley Civilization in 3300 BCE and in Ancient China just a little bit after.

In fact, with the production of grains and pulses, the greatest civilizations of the past probably would not have been able to sustain themselves as great powers for very long. This is one of the theorized hypotheses behind the Bronze Age Collapse.

Why Are Pulses Good For You?

There are many benefits to eating pulses and from the history of our food consumption, this is clear to see. However, we decided to write down some more concrete reasons to include them in your diet:

What Are Pulses?


We spoke briefly about pulses having a unique nutritional makeup earlier, and that is true. They are one of the highest sources of protein that you can get from plant material.

This is amazing for most people, but is especially important to vegan and vegetarian people, who cannot rely on the rich protein sources in animal products.

From one cup of pulses, you can get up to 15 grams of protein, which is about a third of your daily intake. Not only is this incredible, it means that pulses can be eaten in abundance without any worry about depriving your body of protein.


Pulses are very high in fiber, which is something that your digestive tract desperately needs to keep itself healthy.

They are high in both soluble fiber, which helps to regulate blood sugar levels, body weight, and to lower cholesterol, and insoluble fiber, which helps to regulate your digestive system and helps to keep your heart muscles healthy.


One of the best reasons to use pulses as a protein source is that they are naturally very low in fat. Due to not being an animal product and as such not needing saturated fats as part of their natural systems, the pulses have very little of it.

As such, the only problematic fats you will find in pulses most of the time are those that you add, like say if you made refried beans you would add lard.

Are There Any Downsides To Eating Pulses?

There are absolutely no downsides to adding pulses to your diet (bar the standard ones like allergies), but they are not a food you should wholly rely on for your protein intake.

Pulses are not a ‘complete protein’, which essentially means they are missing one essential amino acid that would make them have the complete package of proteins you need.

Again, this is a small thing and not even a bad one, it just means you will have to find that amino acid in other foods.

If you are a meat eater, then you can do that through any meat you consume, however if you are a vegan or a vegetarian, then you are going to have to find this from somewhere else.

This isn’t too hard, though, as you can do this easily with foods such as wholegrain or nuts.

Having just a few whole grains or a handful of nuts a day with the pulse should give you the complete protein set, and there are other ways to get the proteins that you need.

Types Of Pulses

If you are still confused about what pulses you can buy, we have created this handy little list for you:


  • Kidney Bean
  • Navy Bean
  • Pinto Bean
  • Black Turtle Bean
  • Haricot Bean
  • Lima Bean
  • Mung Bean
  • Adzuki Bean
  • Rice Bean

Broad Beans

  • Broad Bean
  • Horse Bean
  • Field Bean


  • Garden Pea
  • Protein Pea


Black Eyed Pea



These are the most common type of pulse that you will find in supermarkets, but there are plenty of others. Considering the variety, you should have no problem using them in a variety of ways.


Pulses are a type of fruit or seed from the Fabaceae plant family that are noted for their extraordinarily high amount of protein and fiber that can be absorbed by them when they are eaten, while also having a low amount of fat and calories.

Jenna Priestly
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