Pulses are the edible seeds of plants in the legume family. Pulses grow in pods and come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) recognizes 11 types of pulses: dry beans, dry broad beans, dry peas, chickpeas, cow peas, pigeon peas, lentils, Bambara beans, vetches, lupins and pulses nes (not elsewhere specified – minor pulses that don’t fall into one of the other categories).
Pulses are annual crops that yield between one and 12 grains or seeds. The term “pulses” is limited to crops harvested solely as dry grains, which differentiates them from other vegetable crops that are harvested while still green. Between 2010 and 2013, 173 different countries grew and exported pulses. Pulses are healthy, nutritious and easy to cook with. Growing pulses also promotes sustainable agriculture, as pulse crops help decrease greenhouse gases, increase soil health, and use less water than other crops. Hundreds of varieties of pulses are grown in 173 countries around the world. The images on this page are a small representation of the pulse varieties that you may see at your local market.