Pulse (legume)

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Pulses are defined by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) as annual leguminous crops yielding from one to twelve grains or seeds of variable size, shape and color within a pod. Pulses are used for food and animal feed.

The term pulses, as used by the FAO, is reserved for crops harvested solely for the dry grain. This therefore excludes green beans and green peas, which are considered vegetable crops. Also excluded are crops which are mainly grown for oil extraction (oilseeds like soybeans and peanuts), and crops which are used exclusively for sowing (clovers, alfalfa).

Pulses are important food crops due to their high protein and essential amino acid content. Like many leguminous crops, pulses play a key role in crop rotation due to their ability to fix nitrogen.



India is both the world's largest producer and the world's largest importer of pulses.

Canada, Myanmar, Australia and the United States are significant exporters of pulses. These are the four most significant suppliers of India's imports, in that order.

The vast majority of leguminous crops grown in the United States are soybeans, used as livestock feed and for extraction of vegetable oil, and peanuts, neither of which is considered a pulse.

Classification of pulses

Variety of pulses

FAO recognizes 11 primary pulses.

  1. Dry beans (Phaseolus spp. including several species now in Vigna)
  2. Dry broad beans (Vicia faba)
  3. Dry peas (Pisum spp.)
  4. Chickpea, Garbanzo, Bengal gram (Cicer arietinum)
  5. Dry cowpea, Black-eyed pea, blackeye bean (Vigna unguiculata ssp. dekindtiana)
  6. Pigeon pea, Toor, cajan pea, congo bean (Cajanus cajan)
  7. Lentil (Lens culinaris)
  8. Bambara groundnut, earth pea (Vigna subterranea)
  9. Vetch, common vetch (Vicia sativa)
  10. Lupins (Lupinus spp.)
  11. Minor pulses include:

Protein content

  • Pulses contain 20 to 25% of proteins, which is double of that found in wheat and three times that found in rice.
  • Pulses are sometimes called "poor man’s meat".
  • Pulse protein is equivalent in quality to soy protein which has been shown by the World Health Organization to be the equal of meat, milk and egg proteins.
  • While pulses are generally high in protein and the digestibility of that protein is also high, they often are relatively poor in the essential amino acid methionine. Grains, among other foods, can make up for this shortfall.


See also

External links

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