Pulses are a staple food cultivated since ancient times, which play an important role in the human diet. From a nutritional point of view, pulses are very interesting foods as they are rich in proteins, carbohydrates and dietary fibre. Dietary antioxidants are a complex mixture of hydrophilic and lipophilic compounds usually present in foods of plant origin, including pulses. In the present study, the phytochemical composition of selected pulses (common beans, fava beans, lentils, chickpeas, peas and lupins) has been reviewed in terms of their content of antioxidant compounds. The content of hydrosoluble antioxidants (organic acids, phenolic compounds), liposoluble antioxidants (tocopherols, carotenoids) and other compounds which exert antioxidant properties, such as dietary fibre and minerals (zinc, selenium), has been studied, reporting that pulses are an interesting source of these compounds, which have important health benefits, including a preventing role in cardiovascular diseases, anticarcinogenic or neuroprotective properties. It is important to take into account that pulses are not usually consumed raw, but they must be processed before consumption in order to improve their nutritional quality and their palatability, therefore, the effect of different technological and heat treatments (germination, cooking, boiling, extrusion) on the antioxidant compounds present in pulses has been also reviewed. In this regard, it has been observed that as a consequence of processing, the content of phytochemicals with antioxidant properties is usually decreased, but processed pulses maintain relevant amounts of these compounds, preserving their beneficial health effect.
Keywords: Pulses; antioxidants; carotenoids; fibre; minerals; organic acids; phenolic compounds; tocopherols..
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