While “taking your PULSE” often refers to a different kind of PULSES . Dietary PULSES refer to the dried edible seeds from the pods of LEGUME (or bean or pea) plants. The term LEGUME refers to the whole plant, including leaves stems and pods, but the PULSES represent the most palatable and nutritious part of a LEGUME plant. In the grocery store we recognize these dried seeds as split peas, lentils or any number of dried beans (navy, black, kidney, garbanzo, etc.). (Just to confuse things a bit more, peanuts and soybeans are LEGUMES, but not PULSES, because they have a higher fat content than dried pulses.) Now, onto the multitude of reasons why this oft forgotten food group should be added into your healthy post-op dietary regimen, or why you should TAKE YOUR PULSES!!
PROTEIN: At 7-9 grams of protein per ½ cup (cooked), PULSES can help you reach your post-op daily protein goal and help prevent muscle loss!
FIBER: At 6-8 grams of fiber per ½ cup (cooked), PULSES can help you reach your post-op daily fiber goal and help keep you regular!
MINERALS: With cooked lentils leading the pack, PULSES generously contribute to your daily iron intake (important for strength and energy, strong nails, healthy red blood cells, and more) and are a natural source of zinc (important in healing, immune function, hair growth, taste and smell, and more), and magnesium (important for healthy muscles, energy, and strength, bone health, and more.)
ECO FRIENDLY: If you are concerned about your environment, as well as your diet, LEGUME and their PULSES are eco-friendly, sustainable crops.
BUDGET FRIENDLY $: PULSES are undoubtedly a super-nutritious, low-cost ingredient, particularly when buying dried (vs. canned) and in bulk!
COMPLEX AND NATURALLY GLUTEN-FREE CARBOHYDRATE: Because of their high fiber and protein content, PULSES provide a slow-release of carbohydrates so they help keep you full, they do not spike blood sugar and (as a bonus for those who require it) they are naturally gluten-free.
If you are introducing dietary PULSES into your dieter the first time, remember:
• Add PULSES into your diet very gradually to prevent gas and bloating.
• Canned beans and chickpeas (like their dried counterparts) are very nutritious so, unless a recipe specifies otherwise, drain canning liquid and rinse before using.
• Ounce for ounce, PULSES contain less protein and more calories than many other lean protein sources (chicken, fish, trimmed beef) so they are best utilized in small amounts in combination dishes (stews, casseroles, salads) like:
- Small serving of steamed or sauteed cauliflower rice and beans with an egg (any style) and sprinkle of cheese on top
- Lentil soup with a generous dollop of low-fat plain Greek yogurt mixed in
- Chili prepared with kidney or black (or favorite) beans, very lean ground beef, chicken or turkey, tomatoes, spices, sprinkle of cheese, etc.
- Small veggie or turkey burger with 1-2 Tblspns hummus on top
When it comes to a win-win dietary addition, be daring, be creative, and for absolute goodness sake,
TAKE YOUR PULSES!!
By Nancy Murphy, RDN, CDE