Affiliations: [a] National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Department of Hygiene and Epidemiology, 75 Mikras Asias Street, Athens 115 27, Greece. e-mail: [email protected]
Abstract: Pulses represent one of the most important food categories that have been extensively used as staple foods to cover basic protein and energy needs throughout the history of humanity. In addition to their low lipid and high dietary fibre content, emerging evidence stresses the importance of pulses as carriers of several constituents of potential biological importance, including enzyme inhibitors, lectins, phytates, oxalates, polyphenols, saponins and phytosterols. Investigations in humans suggest that pulses may contribute to human health and well-being, mostly through prevention of coronary heart disease and possibly diabetes. The mechanisms responsible for this apparently protective role may include a favourable influence on blood lipids and glucose. The nutritional value of pulses, which are a key component of the traditional Mediterranean diet, is not generally recognised and is frequently under-appreciated.