Health Benefits of Pulses

The Grains & Legumes Nutrition Council (GLNC) provides extensive information about the value of pulses in the diet. Pulse foods feature in two major sections of Nutrition Australia's new 'healthy eating food pyramid'.


Chickpeas are a very good source of carbohydrates and proteins, which altogether constitute about 80% of the total dry seed weight. Starch, which is the principal carbohydrate component, varies in content from 41–50% and is lower in Desi varieties than in Kabuli varieties. Total seed carbohydrates vary from 52–71%. The crude protein content of chickpea varieties ranges from 16–24%. Crude fibre, an important constituent of chickpeas, is mostly located within the seed coat.

Based on amino acid composition, the proteins of chickpea seed were found, on average, to be of higher nutritive value than those of other grain legumes. Chickpeas meet adult human requirements for all essential amino acids except methionine and cysteine, and have a low level of tryptophan. Chickpeas have a high protein digestibility and are richer in phosphorus and calcium than other pulses.

Faba bean and broad bean

Faba bean and broad bean are a good source of carbohydrate and protein while containing a low amount of fats. Starch is the principal carbohydrate component. The crude protein content of faba bean and broad bean ranges from 24 to 31 per cent.

Faba bean and broad bean meet all adult human requirements for essential amino acids except methionine and tryptophan. They also provide the recommended daily allowance of all essential minerals, except calcium.

They are highly digestible and have a metabolisable energy for pigs, poultry and ruminants similar to those of lupin, field pea and soybean meal.


Lentil is mostly used for human consumption but tend to have poor protein quality as they are low both in sulphur amino acids and tryptophan. The protein is, however, highly digestible. They are lower in fat than chickpea and are a good source of iron. Lentil have a shorter cooking time than other pulses.

Field pea

Field peas are a good source of dietary proteins and energy. The starch content, which can vary from 30 to 50 per cent, is high, and comparable to Angustifolius Lupins. The fat content of field pea is very low (approx. 1%) as are the levels of fibre and lignin, while the content of soluble carbohydrate (mostly starch) is high. The protein content of field pea is lower than Angustifolius Lupins at 23%.

The metabolised energy content of field pea for ruminant and non-ruminant animals is high due to the high content of soluble carbohydrates. In poultry diets, Field pea has a significantly higher metabolisable energy value than soybean meal. Field pea are low in calcium, sodium and possibly copper, depending on soil conditions.


Both varieties of Lupins have a two-fold nutritional value, being a concentrated source of both protein and energy. Angustifolius in particular is recognised internationally as a valuable stockfeed ingredient. It is the protein quality, fibre digestibility fatty acid composition and mineral balance that makes Lupins an attractive vegetable protein source. Lupins can be stored relatively easily since they feature a low moisture content and hard seed coat.

Lupins could be an attractive alternative to dry beans and soya beans currently used for human consumption as the protein and oil is readily digested and the seeds have a high content of dietary fibre. The range of possibilities include being ground for flour, fermented to produce high quality tempe, used as a snack food base or being utilised in the production of protein concentrates or fermented sauces. Albus Lupins have particular potential for processing as its lower content of yellow pigment means greater ease in making near-white vegetable based products.

Lupin + Red Meat — A joint venture in value adding


As a food source mungbeans have some valuable properties. Products which need high consistency under high temperature benefit from the heat stable viscosity of Mungbean starch. The protein is easily digested and is of a high quality, making Mungbean based food preparations especially good for children, elderly people and invalids.

In the diet it should be noted that Mungbeans are not a perfect protein source and should be consumed with other sources of protein which have high percentages of sulphur-containing amino acids, such as cereals, rice and sesame. Mungbeans are high in vitamins A, B1, B2 and C and niacin.

For further information, please contact the Australian Mungbean Association or phone: (07) 3341 4548.

Nutritional comparison

Nutrition per 100g raw*
Chickpea Faba bean Green lentil Red lentil Field pea Lupin Mungbean
Energy 986 kJ
1680 kJ
986 kJ 1550 kJ 886 kJ 1840 kJ 1800 kJ
Protein 13 g 25 g
14 g 27 g 18 g 32 g 26 g
Fat 3.8 g 1.3 g
0.4 g 2.5 g 0.8 g 5 g 2 g
Carbohydrate 41 g 57 g
44 g 58 g 40 g not available 72 g
Fibre 17 g 8 g
8 g 10 g 19 g 15 g 12 g

* These values should be taken as guidelines only as values can vary considerably with variety, conditions of growth and age of bean.