Dietary guidance for pulses: the challenge and opportunity to be part of both the vegetable and protein food groups

Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2017 Mar;1392(1):58-66. doi: 10.1111/nyas.13308. Epub 2017 Feb 1.


Pulses are a dry, edible variety of beans, peas, and lentils that have been consumed for 10,000 years. Pulses are rich in plant-based protein and fiber, as well as micronutrients such as iron and potassium. The satiating effect of both fiber and protein assists in managing weight and combating obesity. The high fiber content and low glycemic index of pulses aid people with diabetes in maintaining blood glucose and insulin levels. Pulse consumption may improve serum lipid levels to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Pulses developed as a member of both the protein and vegetable food groups as a result of its high content of plant-based protein and dietary fiber. The last two revisions of the Dietary Guidelines saw the transformation from the MyPyramid "meat and beans group" to the MyPlate "protein foods group," a nutrient name rather than a food source. Research suggests that consumers better identify with food source examples rather than nutrient names. The 2015 Dietary Guidelines also came with a new area: sustainable diets. Encouraging the consumption of sustainable food sources, like pulses, is imperative to ensuring a secure, healthy food supply for the U.S. population over time and for future generations.

Keywords: beans; dietary guidelines; legumes; plant-based protein; pulses.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Blood Glucose
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / blood*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology
  • Diet
  • Dietary Fiber / metabolism*
  • Dietary Proteins / metabolism
  • Fabaceae / metabolism*
  • Glycemic Index
  • Humans
  • Lipids / blood
  • Micronutrients / metabolism*
  • Nutritional Requirements
  • Risk Factors
  • Vegetables / metabolism


  • Blood Glucose
  • Dietary Fiber
  • Dietary Proteins
  • Lipids
  • Micronutrients