Pulses are the dry, edible seeds of certain plants in the legume family.
Major pulse crops grown in Canada include chickpeas, lentils, dry or field peas, faba beans, and dry beans. Most pulse crops are grown in Western Canada, but farmers in Ontario and parts of Québec are significant growers of dry beans, including navy beans, black beans, red kidney, white kidney, cranberry, and adzuki beans.
Pulse crops are a low-fat, high-fibre protein powerhouse with high levels of minerals like iron, zinc, and phosphorus, as well as potassium, folate, and other B-vitamins. They’ve also been found to help lower bad types of cholesterol, and to help maintain healthy blood sugar levels.
Pulses are also a key part of sustainable food production. They are a “nitrogen-fixing crop”—meaning that they have the potential to work with soil bacteria to draw nitrogen from the air and store it, so farmers can reduce the amount of nitrogen fertilizer applied to their field. After harvest, pulses leave behind nitrogen-rich crop residue, which can further reduce the amount of fertilizer that farmers need to apply for the next crop too.
Quick fact: Over 50 per cent of all lentils traded in the world come from Saskatchewan fields.