Pulses are the seeds of legumes that are used for human consumption and include peas, beans, lentils, chickpeas, and fava beans. Pulses are an important source of macronutrients, containing almost twice the amount of protein compared to cereal grains. In addition to being a source of macronutrients and minerals, pulses also contain plant secondary metabolites that are increasingly being recognised for their potential benefits for human health. The best-studied legume is the soybean, traditionally regarded as an oilseed crop rather than a pulse. The potential health benefits of soy, particularly with respect to isoflavone content, have been the subject of much research and the focus of several reviews. By comparison, less is known about pulses. This review investigates the health potential of pulses, examining the bioactivity of pulse isoflavones, phytosterols, resistant starch, bioactive carbohydrates, alkaloids and saponins. The evidence for health properties is considered, as is the effect of processing and cooking on these potentially beneficial phytochemicals.