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Pulses Pretty Please



Pulses sit within the legume family & are the dried seeds of plants.  With such a large variety, they can easily be substituted into any meal or eaten as a snack! You will possibly be familiar already with baked beans, perhaps reminiscent of your early childhood days or forming part of your post-work out recovery snack.

Australian pulses include – Chickpeas, faba/broad beans, lentils, mungbeans & green peas. Other types of legumes include, red kidney, butter, borlotti, cannellini & black-eyed beans, alfalfa, soybeans & believe it or not peanuts. The hottest new legume gaining momentum is the Sweet Australian Lupin due to its outstanding protein and fibre content & cardio protective health benefits.


Pulses and legumes are incredibly nutritious. They are valuable sources of protein, smart carbs, good fats, fibre & contain B Vitamins, Iron, Folate, Zinc, Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium & other minerals. What this means for you is that they’re assisting your body with energy production & electrolyte balance, bone & blood formation, muscle functioning & recovery, plus the maintenance of a healthy weight! The fibre and resistant starch is known as prebiotic – which essentially feeds the good bugs in your gut, boosts your immunity and stabilises blood sugar levels, perfect for digestive health.

Pulses or legumes are particularly beneficial for vegetarian athletes as an alternative source of protein and micronutrients. However, as only soybeans and it’s products including tofu, tempeh, miso soup, edamame beans or soy milk contain the full essential amino acid profile, it is important to pair all other pulses & legumes with a grain source such as rice, barley, wholegrain bread or the super seed quinoa!

A perfect pulse?

Unfortunately no food in isolation is perfect which is why I recommend consuming a wide variety of foods to increase nutrient uptake & enjoyment! Legumes & pulses are generally considered poor sources of Vitamin C and despite their excellent nutrient profile, contain anti-nutritional factors that can impact on nutrient absorption.

To combat these factors follow the cooking instructions properly, try fermented or sprouted varieties, buy tinned (which are nearly, equally as nutritious compared with dried) & add a source of Vitamin C such as lemon juice, tomato, avocado or capsicum, which will also enhance iron absorption!

Considerations – Toot toot!

Most legumes contain a sugar called GOS (Galacto –oligosaccharide). Interestingly, no human being actually has the enzyme to break this down. It is therefore important to find the right balance for your body and consume in moderation, otherwise you will be left feeling uncomfortable, bloated & with a tum full of gas – nobody enjoys the alphabet song. Because of this, it may also be in your best interest to save your musical friends for post run, walk or following intense work – outs! To help reduce some of these gassy side effects I suggest removing the transparent coating of pulses or legumes (chickpeas) & following the soaking and cooking instructions accordingly. For those who experience Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) it is best to test your tolerance & avoid legumes during stressful occasions.


For further advice on this, consult with an Accredited Practising Sports Dietitian.

What is Olympian & 20km Race Walker Regan Lamble’s favourite legume dish?

“A hearty, healthy big bean burrito with brown rice with guac, cheese, salsa & leafy greens.”  

Following a long walk, this is a great option because it provides a variety of nutrients & energy:



Main Nutrient Profile


Brown rice, beans & wholegrain wrap

  • Complete protein & SMART Carbohydrates, B Vitamins 
  • Fibre 
  • Iron/ Folate
  • Muscle recovery & glycogen restoration
  • Healthy digestive system
  • Red blood cell production
  • Calcium 
  • Protein
  • Bone health, cell repair
  • Mono & poly – unsaturated fats Antioxidants (Beta carotene, Vitamin C)
  • Healthy cells, skin & hormonal balance
  • Reduced inflammation
Leafy Greens & Salsa 
  • Antioxidants (Beta carotene, Vitamin C)
  • Iron/folate
  • Repair & growth of new blood cells & tissues – increased absorption of iron (from plant sources)
  • Immunity

So how can you be like Regan & include more pulses & legumes into your day? Below is an example of food options that you can incorporate into your diet to help increase your pulses and legume intake.


Tasty home - made baked beans on wholegrain toast

Avocado and hummous on wholegrain toast

Lemon, basil & butter bean dip on a piece of rye bread with roasted tomatoes


Home – made bean dips with vegetable sticks, on wholegrain biscuits or spread on a piece of wholegrain bread.

John West Tuna/Salmon & Bean mixes

Edamame beans/ roasted chickpea snack packs

Egg & bean fritters

Lunch & Dinner:

Legumes, tofu & peanuts can be added into salads, soups, bolognese sauces & your favourite curries

Tofu burgers with your favourite salad fillings or bean burritos

 Stir fry’s with tofu, a source of grain & your favourite vegetables

Jessica Rothwell
Accredited Practising Sport and Clinical Dietitian
Recover Sports Medicine

If you would like to discuss your dietetic and nutritional needs with our Accredited Practising Sports & Clinical Dietitian, Jessica Rothwell, please contact the clinic on 1300 858 774 or email us at contact@recoversportsmed.com.au

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