With a focus on a plant-based diet already big news, 2016 will see us go even more vegetarian and turn to pulses, beans, and legumes for a nutritionally-packed plant source of protein. Here we outline some of the health benefits of these forgotten kitchen cupboard staples, and why 2016 will see you replacing meat for pulses, and even sprouting your own beans and seeds at home.
With the UN declaring 2016 the International Year of the Pulse, if these grains aren't currently on your health radar, they soon will be. Covering chickpeas, dried beans such as kidney and fava beans, lentils, and dried, split or black eyed-peas, pulses are a type of legume with multiple health benefits.
Made up of about 20-25 per cent of protein by weight, pulses are an excellent source of plant-based protein, as well as a great source of fibre. They are high in amino acids and packed full of important minerals such as iron, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, zinc, and essential B-vitamins including thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, B6, and folate. As they are low in fat and gluten free, they can also be included in a variety of diets, and have been found to be beneficial in preventing cancer, diabetes, anemia, and heart conditions, and controlling obesity.
Sprouting seeds and beans
Normally a health food store staple, sprouting seeds are set to go mainstream in 2016, with do-it-yourself kits even making their way onto supermarket shelves. Sprouting seeds and beans, which can then be eaten whole, increases the levels of digestive enzymes and the nutritional content of the seed, with a 2010 review of studies on sprouting grains finding that sprouting various beans could significantly increase the levels of vitamin C, B12, resveratol, known for its anti-inflammatory, aging, and cancer properties, and a compound called phytate, which can help reduce blood sugar and cholesterol.
At home, popular beans to sprout include mung, alfalfa, broccoli, and fenugreek which can then be added to salads to supercharge health.