Pulses are good sources of bioactive compounds such as polyphenols, phytosterols and non-digestible carbohydrates that play important physiological as well as metabolic roles. These compounds vary in concentration amongst different pulse species and varieties. Pulse seed coats are rich in water-insoluble fibres and polyphenols (having high antioxidant activities), while cotyledons contain higher soluble fibres, oligosaccharides, slowly digestible and resistant starch content. Ferulic acid is the most abundant phenolic acid present in pulses, while flavonol glycosides, anthocyanins and tannins are responsible for the seed coat colour. Sitosterol (most abundant), stigmasterol, and campesterol are the major phytosterols present in pulses. Pulse fibres, resistant starch and oligosaccharides function as probiotics and possess several other health benefits such as anti-inflammatory, anti-tumour, and reduce glucose as well as lipid levels. Beans and peas contain higher amounts of oligosaccharides than other pulses. Processing methods affect resistant starch, polyphenol composition and generally increase antioxidant activities of different pulses. In this review, the current information on pulse polyphenols, phytosterols, resistant starch, dietary fibre, oligosaccharides, antioxidant and associated health benefits are discussed.
Keywords: Dietary fibre; Phytosterols; Polyphenols; Pulses; Resistant starch.