Pulses play an important role in human nutrition both as foods and as food ingredients, bringing the nutritional benefits of high levels of dietary fibre and complex carbohydrates.
As well as nutritional benefits, pulses are an important part of sustainable food production and bring environmental credibility for manufacturers. Pulse crops supply their own nitrogen, reducing the need for fertilisers and lowering agriculture's greenhouse gas emissions from crop production.
Research on the health benefits of beans and peas and the use of whole pulses and pulse flours is increasing interest in pulses as an important food ingredient as consumers become more health-conscious, governments seek to improve their national health profiles, and manufacturers respond to the requirements of those with special dietary needs.
The functional properties of the key components in pulses - such as soluble and insoluble fibre, resistant starch and protein - make pulses suitable for a wide range of food products. They have a low glycemic index and are gluten-free with around twice the protein content of cereal grains and a high level of complex carbohydrates, including fibre.
There are a whole range of food product applications where pulses play a part. As examples, in batter and breading coatings, pea starch can be used as a viable alternative to modified corn starch to give improved batter adhesion while pea fibre improves batter viscosity. For pasta uses, pulse starch will increase the amount of resistant starch - which has health benefits, such as improved colon health.
Pulse products, such as pea fibre, also have value as food ingredients where the high total dietary fibre, neutral colour and taste means it can be used in bread making to give a fibre claim for white breads.
In addition, pea fibre can be used for controlling the expansion rate or texture consistency in extruded products, and for improving cohesiveness and cooking yield in meat products where its strong water retention properties and fat retention properties are valued.
If you would like to know more about the end uses of pulses - for the feed industry, for the food industry, for export markets, and for specialist uses, such as gluten-free diets - please contact one of the Pulses UK member companies listed on our web site. If you would like advice on the most appropriate Pulses UK member to contact, please visit our contacts page.