Living with Celiac Disease? Pulses Can Help!

September 30, 2011 (WINNIPEG) – Managing celiac disease is difficult, but adding pulses to the diet can make this process easier, tastier and more affordable.

Celiac disease is a diet-limiting condition that affects 1 in 133 people around the world.  “October is Celiac Awareness Month.  Pulses and pulse ingredients are gluten-free and easy to use in many recipes including baked goods, snacks and meals,” said Dr. Julianne Curran, Director of Nutrition, Science & Regulatory Affairs with Pulse Canada.

Since celiac disease has no known cure, a strict gluten-free diet is the only way to manage the disorder.  Gluten-free pulses (dried peas, beans, lentils and chickpeas) and pulse ingredients are an excellent meal option for those with any level of gluten intolerance.

Many readily available gluten-free products are made with refined flours and starches that can be low in fibre, protein, iron, B vitamins and other nutrients.  Adding pulses to a gluten-free diet can boost the nutritional quality of these foods because pulses are rich in fibre, protein, vitamins and minerals.

“Pulses are a versatile, delicious and economical gluten-free option,” says Dr. Curran.  “They are also low in fat and cholesterol, making them a nutrition powerhouse.  Cooked pulses and pulse flours can be added into the diet in many ways.”

Earlier this year, Pulse Canada released Pulses and the Gluten-Free Diet:  Cooking with Beans, Peas, Lentils and Chickpeas, a resource booklet that includes 26 gluten-free recipes that are tasty, nutritious and easy to make at home.

Canada’s Food Guide recommends eating beans and lentils often as an alternative to meat products.  One serving of pulses is about ¾ cup, or about the size of a tennis ball.

Eating more pulses is good for the planet too.  Pulses have a lower carbon footprint than other annual crops because they use solar power to transform atmospheric nitrogen into a plant available form.  This unique ability means pulses virtually create their own fertilizer, which reduces the amount of energy required to make them grow and creates fewer greenhouse gases.

“Pulses are a powerful tool that can be used to create healthy people, and a healthy planet,” says Curran.