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Health benefits of pulse consumption – An overview


*Corresponding author
1. Universidade Católica Portuguesa, CBQF – Centro de Biotecnologia e Química Fina – Laboratório Associado, Escola Superior de Biotecnologia, Porto, Portugal;
2. Department of Chemistry and CICECO-Aveiro Institute of Materials, University of Aveiro, Campus Universitário de Santiago, Aveiro, Portugal
3. EPIUnit – Instituto de Saúde Pública, Universidade do Porto, Portugal


For several years, efforts have been made by the scientific community to showcase the health benefits of pulse grains. However, there is still no global consensus as to how much and which pulses should be ingested, and how often. This paper aims to provide an overview of the recent scientific evidence regarding the health benefits of pulse consumption supported by their particular nutritional richness in terms of low glycaemic index carbohydrates, fibre, total protein content and amino acid composition, minerals and bioactive compounds. Results suggest that consuming 100 g of pulses per day may contribute to maintaining overall good health, improve gut microbiota, and even help prevent cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, obesity or cancer. Nevertheless, methodological concerns due to study protocol heterogeneity, differences in populations’ dietary habits and lifestyle, as well as, constraints linked to self-reported information on food intake assessment still prevent definite conclusions to be achieved. Robust supporting scientific evidence, namely through large-scale trials and dietary interventions, is needed to fully understand the underlying biochemical mechanisms responsible for the positive metabolic outcomes of diet consumption and help define intake guidelines.


Pulses are dry edible seeds of members of the Leguminosae family (1). Their inclusion in human diets goes back centuries and beans, peas, lentils and chickpeas are amongst the most frequently consumed pulses worldwide (2). 

Notwithstanding, in the last few years pulses have been on the spotlight due to their significant contribution to the development of more sustainable agri-food systems (3).Their nitrogen-fixing ability together with their rich nutrient profile, namely, high protein content, makes them strong allies in the global fight against climate change and food insecurity, two of the most critical challenges of the modern world (4). In this context, their relevance to human health has also been a focus of much scientific research. Growing evidence suggests that pulses may favourably modulate cardiometabolic disorders and help promote general health (5). Thus, this paper gives a brief overview of the latest scientific evidence regarding the potential human health benefits of pulses consumption.



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