Pulses celebrate their International Year. FAO highlights the virtues of these foods with ‘superpowers’ and their role in mitigating malnutrition in the world.

Many Spanish population heard during their childhood that the lentils were a meal of old, “if you want to eat them, and if not, you leave them.” Although, in the end, almost always had to end up eating them. And FAO (UN agency for food and agriculture) believes that these lentil dishes were – and are – a very good idea. The international organization has established 2016 as the International Year of Pulses, and insists on highlighting the benefits that this food can provide in different fields, from ending hunger to fighting climate change.

In its campaign to popularize vegetable consumption, FAO has published an online downloadable book that includes recipes for cooking inspired by chefs from all continents. He has also organized numerous events, exhibitions and seminars, and will participate in food summits to defend the role of a food that has been layered by its superpowers.


  1. Low fat content.
  2. Low sodium content.
  3. Good source of iron.
  4. High protein content.
  5. Excellent source of fiber.
  6. Excellent source of folate.
  7. High content in potassium.
  8. Low glycemic index.
  9. They do not have cholesterol.
  10. They do not have gluten.

Faculties attributed to beans or beans, peas, chickpeas, beans or lentils (from highest to lowest world production) influence nutrition, health, climate change, biodiversity and food security. Because they are one of the most nutritious foods on the planet, and therefore, can be a solution to the two major problems in this regard: malnutrition and obesity. Among other things, they contribute to improving health because they reduce heart disease, prevent iron deficiency or help control weight. They also improve the absorption of carbon by soils, contributing their granite of earth against climate change and, moreover, do not require nitrogen fertilizers, avoiding the emission of gases that entails the manufacture of these fertilizers.

And no doubt, when it comes to ending hunger and malnutrition (objectified that it inspired the birth of FAO), pulses have something to say about the main threats to food security. If climate change threatens food production in many countries, more water-resistant vegetables are perfect for arid environments. In addition, some varieties can supply groundwater for the crops that accompany them. In the face of malnutrition, a much cheaper and accessible (and sustainable) protein source than meat. Finally, in the face of the problem of food losses (food that is spoiled before being consumed) and waste, are foods that can be preserved for a long time in good condition without losing their nutritional value.

Each time we produce and consume more pulses – a 31% more since 1990 – but they are still lacking to be a main food in the world diet. The number of hectares devoted to its cultivation was 64 million in 1961, and more than half a century later, of 86. And there is also much to be done in research to develop better varieties. In 2014 only $ 175 million was invested in this regard, compared to the billions that are dedicated to crops such as corn.

And what about flatulence?, Say detractors of beans and peas. As experienced cooks know, often through popular wisdom, they can be avoided by techniques such as renewing the water from previous soaking once or twice, seasoning the stew with herbs and spices such as cumin, coriander or fennel, or substitute the water of the first boil for new water. With this, and the numerous recipes and forms of preparation to which they are provided, there is no excuse: if you want to eat them, and if not … also.