United Nations. 2016 is the International Year of Pulses.
On January 10th, 1946, the first General Assembly of the United Nations, comprising 51 nations, convened at Westminster Central Hall in London, England. One week later, the U.N. Security Council met for the first time and established its rules of procedure. Then, on January 24, the General Assembly adopted its first resolution, a measure calling for the peaceful uses of atomic energy and the elimination of atomic and other weapons of mass destruction.
All 193 members states of the United Nations are members of the General Assembly. The 68th UN General Assembly declared 2016 the International Year of Pulses (IYP).
The IYP 2016 aims to heighten public awareness of the nutritional benefits of pulses as part of sustainable food production aimed towards food security and nutrition. The Year will create a unique opportunity to encourage connections throughout the food chain that would better utilize pulse-based proteins, further global production of pulses, better utilize crop rotations and address the challenges in the trade of pulses.
Pulses are annual leguminous crops yielding between one and 12 grains or seeds of variable size, shape and colour within a pod, used for both food and feed. The term “pulses” is limited to crops harvested solely for dry grain, thereby excluding crops harvested green for food, which are classified as vegetable crops, as well as those crops used mainly for oil extraction and leguminous crops that are used exclusively for sowing purposes (based on the definition of “pulses and derived products” of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations).
Pulse crops such as lentils, beans, peas and chickpeas are a critical part of the general food basket. Pulses are a vital source of plant-based proteins and amino acids for people around the globe and should be eaten as part of a healthy diet to address obesity, as well as to prevent and help manage chronic diseases such as diabetes, coronary conditions and cancer; they are also an important source of plant-based protein for animals.
In addition, pulses are leguminous plants that have nitrogen-fixing properties which can contribute to increasing soil fertility and have a positive impact on the environment.
Pulses are part of a healthy, balanced diet and have been shown to have an important role in preventing illnesses such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
Pulses are a low fat source of protein, with a high fibre content and low glycemic index. Very high in fibre, pulses contain both soluble and insoluble fibres. Soluble fibre helps to decrease blood cholesterol levels and control blood sugar levels, and insoluble fibre helps with digestion and regularity.
Pulses provide important amounts of vitamins and mineral. Some of the key minerals in pulses include iron, potassium, magnesium and zinc. Pulses are also particularly abundant in B vitamins including folate, thiamin and niacin.
Pulses typically contain about twice the amount of protein found in whole grain cereals like wheat, oats, barley and rice
Finally, pulses are an important source of proteins and in most developing countries constitute the main source of protein for most populations. In addition to contributing to a healthy, balanced diet, pulses nutritional qualities makes them particularly helpful in the fight against some non-communicable diseases.
The World Health Organization estimates that up to 80% of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes and over a third of cancers could be prevented by eliminating risk factors, such as unhealthy diets and promoting better eating habits, of which pulses are an essential component.
Pulses can help lower blood cholesterol and attenuate blood glucose, which are a key factors in the fight against diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Eating pulses as a replacement to some animal protein also helps limit the intake of saturated fats and increases the intake of fibres. Pulses have also been shown to be helpful in the prevention of certain cancers, because of their fibre content but also because of their mineral and amino-acid contents, in particular folate.
The World Food Programme (WFP) includes 60 grams of pulses in its typical food basket, alongside cereals, oils, sugar and salt.
Take your pulse today.
To learn more about The International Year of Pulses, follow the link http://www.fao.org
Resources: WHO (2008) 2008-2013 Action Plan for the Global Strategy for the Prevention and Control of Non-communicable Diseases. http://whqlibdoc.who