Nutritional and health benefits of pulses

Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2014 Nov;39(11):1197-204. doi: 10.1139/apnm-2013-0557. Epub 2014 Jun 13.


Pulses (beans, peas, and lentils) have been consumed for at least 10 000 years and are among the most extensively used foods in the world. A wide variety of pulses can be grown globally, making them important both economically as well as nutritionally. Pulses provide protein and fibre, as well as a significant source of vitamins and minerals, such as iron, zinc, folate, and magnesium, and consuming half a cup of beans or peas per day can enhance diet quality by increasing intakes of these nutrients. In addition, the phytochemicals, saponins, and tannins found in pulses possess antioxidant and anti-carcinogenic effects, indicating that pulses may have significant anti-cancer effects. Pulse consumption also improves serum lipid profiles and positively affects several other cardiovascular disease risk factors, such as blood pressure, platelet activity, and inflammation. Pulses are high in fibre and have a low glycemic index, making them particularly beneficial to people with diabetes by assisting in maintaining healthy blood glucose and insulin levels. Emerging research examining the effect of pulse components on HIV and consumption patterns with aging populations indicates that pulses may have further effects on health. In conclusion, including pulses in the diet is a healthy way to meet dietary recommendations and is associated with reduced risk of several chronic diseases. Long-term randomized controlled trials are needed to demonstrate the direct effects of pulses on these diseases.

Keywords: apport en nutriments; cancer; cardiovascular disease; diabetes; diabète; human health; legumes; légumineuses; légumineuses à grains; maladie cardiovasculaire; nutrient intake; pulses; santé humaine.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diet*
  • Fabaceae / chemistry*
  • Humans
  • Lens Plant
  • Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Nutritional Requirements
  • Nutritive Value*
  • Pisum sativum