Pulses: It May Be My Year, but Can Someone Tell Me Where I Fit in Food Guidance?
The nutritional attributes of pulses are undisputed, but confusion concerning how pulses fit into dietary guidance continues. In this column Slavin discusses what food groups pulses fit in based on their varied nutrients. She notes that although nutritional flexibility may seem like a strength it presents challenges when attempting to provide guidance on how many servings of pulses should be consumed each day. Are they a vegetable or a protein? Given the nutritional composition of pulses, the levels of protein, fiber, folate, iron, potassium, and zinc found in beans, peas, chickpeas, and lentils could help address nutritional shortfalls that affect both the developed and developing worlds. The United Nation's designation of 2016 as the International Year of Pulses serves as a platform for a concerted global effort to communicate the benefits of pulses for nutrition adequacy and sustainable agriculture. It is likely that multiple strategies will be needed to increase consumption of pulses in regions where the majority of individuals do not consume pulses. Possible strategies include increasing their promotion and prominence in regional dietary guidelines and development of pulse ingredients that can be used successfully in processed foods.