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Pulses, sustainable superfoods that can contribute to global food security

Bean crop (c) James Hutton Institute
"Pulses such as UK-grown faba beans are high in starch as well as protein, essential minerals like iron, zinc and magnesium, and are gluten-free"

Pulses, the dry, edible seeds of plants in the legume family, which include UK-grown beans and peas as well as chickpeas and lentils, are incredibly sustainable superfoods that can make a unique contribution to global food security due to their distinctive properties, says Dr Pete Iannetta, from the James Hutton Institute’s Ecological Sciences group.

Dr Iannetta, who coordinates the TRUE research project (TRansition paths to sUstainable legume-based systems in Europe) research project, explains: “Pulses such as UK-grown faba beans are high in starch as well as protein, essential minerals like iron, zinc and magnesium, and are gluten-free. Their consumption helps promote low glycemic index, offsetting diabetes, and can safeguard good cardiovascular function.

“For the environment, pulses have a low carbon footprint, because they require no nitrogen fertiliser, which can result in less greenhouse gas emissions and less water pollution from crop production.

“For growers, they enrich soil health, leaving nutrients behind and supporting healthy and diverse farm systems. These crops are also water-savvy: they can grow and yield on relatively little water, which makes them ideal for drought-prone areas.

“In addition, pulses foster sustainable food production as they require no nitrogen-based fertiliser and fix atmospheric nitrogen into biologically useful forms - an ability they derive from a unique symbiosis with soil bacteria found in their roots.”

The James Hutton Institute works with partners across Europe and the world and is at the forefront of research into the exciting possibilities of pulses to feed the world in a sustainable way. The research ranges from their use in health foods for humans and animals to novel uses. Indeed, Dr Iannetta notes that pulses make great bread and beer too!

Notes to editors

TRansition paths to sUstainable legume-based systems in Europe (TRUE) has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 727973. Full details can be found at the TRUE web site, or by emailing

PGRO is the non-statutory levy body which promotes and carries out research and development in peas and beans. PGRO growing guides and recommended lists of varieties are the national references for growers. The PGRO publishes 'The Pulse Magazine' quarterly, the 'Pulse Agronomy Guide' annually, issues bulletins during the growing season, provides education and training courses, and runs grower / agronomist meetings around the UK. For further information, please contact Roger Vickers on 01780 782585, or email

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Bernardo Rodriguez-Salcedo, Media Manager, Tel: +44 (0)1224 395089 (direct line), +44 (0)344 928 5428 (switchboard) or +44 (0)7791 193918 (mobile).

Printed from /news/pulses-sustainable-superfoods-can-contribute-global-food-security on 08/12/23 10:26:04 AM

The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.