The Ultimate Guide to Pulse Flours

EA Stewart wrote . . . . . . . . .

They pack a mighty nutritional punch and are a versatile addition to a gluten-free pantry.

As plant-forward eating continues to increase in popularity, so do protein-packed, low-fat, fiber-rich pulse flours. Pulse flours are teeming with nutrients and are naturally gluten-free, and the category is expected to grow more than 10% over the next five years.1 For these reasons, pulse flours should be on every dietitian’s radar, as they help clients optimize nutrition and promote gut health.

Learn more about these flours’ key nutrition benefits and how to bake with them so you can share with clients how to incorporate them into their diets.

What Are Pulse Flours?

Pulse flours are made from pulses, which are the edible seeds of legumes, such as canned or dry beans, chickpeas, lentils, lupin (also commonly called lupini) beans, and multiple varieties of peas. Pulses get high marks from a sustainability standpoint because they use soil bacteria to pull nitrogen back into the soil from the air, replacing the need to add nitrogen fertilizers and producing a lower carbon footprint than other crops. In addition, pulse crops require less water than many other protein sources, especially animal protein. Pulse crops have adapted to using less water, making them suitable for planting in areas prone to drought.2,3

Pulse flour is made by grinding or milling whole pulses into flour, and nothing is removed during the milling process. And, while many pulse varieties can be ground into flour at home with a grain mill or a powerful, high-speed blender, this article will focus on four commercially available pulse flours: chickpea, lentil, pea, and lupin.

Gluten-Free Goodness

Because all pulses are naturally gluten-free, they’re a high-quality choice for gluten-free cooking and baking. But there’s one caveat: As with oats and other naturally gluten-free grains, lentils and other pulses may come in contact with gluten-containing grains while growing or during processing. Therefore, dietitians should counsel clients with celiac disease or nonceliac gluten sensitivity to choose pulse flours clearly labeled as gluten-free or contact the manufacturer before purchasing.

Budget-Friendly Choice

When it comes to price, whole wheat and brown rice flours are the most cost-effective flour choices. However, pulse flours such as chickpea and lupin typically are less than one-half the price of nut flours such as almond flour and hazelnut flour, making pulse flours a budget-friendly ingredient for clients.

Expect to see more pulse flours in local stores as their popularity continues to rise. Until then, clients can purchase pulse flours online and in natural food stores.

Nutrient Profile

While all pulse flours are low in fat, there are some significant differences among them regarding protein, carbohydrate, fiber, and micronutrient content. Compared with whole wheat flour, chickpea flour has comparable amounts of protein and fiber, while lentil, green pea, and lupin flours are higher in protein and fiber than whole wheat flour. Pulse flours contain much greater amounts of protein and fiber than brown rice flour, a key ingredient in most gluten-free baked goods. And pulse flours have higher levels of micronutrients such as folate and iron, making them a natural choice for clients who want to optimize their nutrition on a gluten-free diet.

According to Zarana Parekh, RDN, LD, CLT, founder and owner of NutriliciousbyZ in Irving, Texas, “Chickpea- and lentil-based flours are very versatile and nutritious,” adding that their protein, fiber, and nutrient content as well as their gluten-free status “make them a great addition to plant-based and gluten-free diets.”

And because legumes have been found to be more filling than white flour, “baking with pulse flour is a great option for satiety, too,” says Kelly Jones, MS, RD, CSSD, LDN, founder of Kelly Jones Nutrition in Newtown, Pennsylvania, and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Let’s take a closer look at the nutrient content of each of these flours.

Chickpea Flour

Chickpea flour is considered the “go-to” pulse flour for many RDs. It has a fine texture and a nutty, earthy flavor. Clients can purchase plain chickpea flour or buy it as part of a blend with other gluten-free flours. Chickpea flour has about the same amount of fiber and protein as whole wheat flour, but almost double the protein and fiber of brown rice flour, making it a nutritious alternative for anyone on a gluten-free diet.

Kara Landau, APD/AN, a New York City–based prebiotic gut health expert and founder of Uplift Food, says, “Chickpea/garbanzo bean flour is a great alternative when you are looking to incorporate a flour that adds some carbohydrate in a grain- and gluten-free format, and that is also slower release than regular white flour.”

One of the most exciting aspects of chickpea flour is its versatile culinary uses. In Indian cuisine, chickpea flour is used to make besan chilla, a chickpea flour omelet. In southern France, chickpea flour is the main ingredient in socca, a chickpea flour flatbread, and in Italy it’s used to make farinata, a chickpea flour pancake.

Chickpea flour’s mild flavor makes it a natural for sweet dishes, too, such as besan burfi, a classic Indian treat. Chickpea flour is a household staple for Tej Pathak, RD, CDE, a Houston-based dietitian at TejRD. “The sweets made out of chickpea flour are delicious and nutritious, and kids love it,” she says.

In fact, Jones likes to swap some of the regular flour used to make muffins and cupcakes with chickpea flour.

A 1/4-cup serving of chickpea flour contains 120 kcal, 21 g carbohydrate, 5 g fiber, 1.5 g fat, and 5 g protein. Key nutrients include folate, copper, and manganese.

Lentil Flour

With its high levels of protein and fiber, lentil flour earns the award for most nutrient-dense pulse flour. It’s an excellent source of nonheme iron, and its mild flavor makes it a natural ingredient for sweet and savory recipes. Indeed, many clients already may have tried lentil flour in one of the many popular lentil-based pastas on the market.

Like all pulses, lentils have a low glycemic index, making lentil flour an ideal food for weight and blood sugar control.4 As with chickpea flour, lentil flour can be combined with other flours, such as almond or brown rice, to boost protein, fiber, iron, and folate in muffins, cookies, pancakes, scones, and more.

A 1/4-cup serving of lentil flour contains 170 kcal, 29 g carbohydrate, 14.5 g fiber, 0.5 g fat, and 12 g protein. Key nutrients include folate, iron, manganese, and potassium.

Pea Flour

Not to be confused with pea protein powder, pea flour is slightly lower in calories than the other pulse flours mentioned here and lower in carbohydrate than lentil and chickpea flour. In addition, it contains a moderate amount of protein and fiber. Key nutrients in pea flour include iron, zinc, thiamin, and 69% DV for folate.

Clients can purchase green pea flour but will have to grind other pea varieties, such as split yellow peas, into flour themselves for use in gluten-free baking. Green pea flour has a mild and slightly sweet flavor. It’s important to note that green pea flour, like kale and other leafy greens, will turn baked goods green, so pair it with matcha powder for scones and muffins and enjoy.

A 1/4-cup serving of green pea flour contains 100 kcal, 18 g carbohydrate, 8 g fiber, 0 g fat, and 8 g protein. Key nutrients include folate, iron, thiamin, and zinc.

Lupin Flour

Like pea flour, lupin flour probably isn’t on most people’s radar. But with the popularity of the keto diet, it’s one that should be noted, as lupin flour is lower in carbohydrate than other pulse-based or grain-based flours. Landau’s favorite pulse flour is lupin flour, which is simply ground down lupini beans (beans in the same plant family as peanuts).

“Being uniquely comprised of around 40% protein, 30% fiber, and being low in starch/net carbohydrates, I find [lupin flour] to be a wonderful addition that has a low-glycemic load, aids in satiety, and all while offering an abundant source of gut-healthy prebiotics,” Landau says. “For those looking to keep their net carbohydrates down, such as those trying to manage their blood sugar levels or following a ketogenic diet, this flour works perfectly. It’s also a great source of plant-based protein for those who follow a vegan or plant-forward diet and are looking for alternative whole food protein sources.”

By itself, lupin flour tends to have a bitter flavor, so one caveat Landau offers when baking with lupin and other pulse flours is to blend them with non-pulse flours such as almond meal or coconutflour. She says while most recipes recommend replacing up to 30% of wheat flour with lupin flour, she likes to replace it with 40% to “truly reap the nutritional benefits.”

A 1/4-cup serving of lupin flour contains 110 kcal, 12 g carbohydrate (1 g net carbs), 11 g fiber, 2.5 g fat, and 11 g protein.

One important caveat: Because lupini beans are similar to peanuts and soybeans, individuals with peanut or soy allergies should speak with a physician first before consuming lupin flour. In addition, lupini beans have high levels of potentially toxic alkaloids, so clients will need to leach them in water, before consumption. To be on the safe side, instruct clients to buy commercially available lupin flour instead of grinding it on their own.

Source: Today’s Dietitian

Pork, Asparagus and Baby Corn Stir-fry

Ingredients

1 clove garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine
1-1/4 lb) pork loin fillet, thinly sliced across the grain
1 tablespoon peanut oil
1 teaspoon sesame oil
6 fresh shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
5 oz baby corn
3-1/2 oz fresh asparagus, cut into 1-1/2-inch lengths on the diagonal
2 tablespoons oyster sauce

Method

  1. Combine the garlic, ginger, soy sauce, pepper and wine in a non-metallic bowl. Add the pork and toss well. Marinate for at least 10 minutes.
  2. Heat a wok over high heat, add half the oils and swirl to coat the side of the wok.
  3. Remove half the pork from the marinade (reserving the marinade) and stir-fry for 2 minutes, or until pork changes colour. Remove from the wok.

  4. Reheat the wok, then repeat with the remaining oil and pork. Remove and set aside.
  5. Add the mushrooms, corn and asparagus to the wok and stir-fry for 2 minutes.
  6. Return the pork and any juices to the wok and stir in the oyster sauce and reserved marinade. Stir-fry for another 2 minutes, or until it is heated through.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: The Essential Wok Cookbook

In Pictures: Food of Forum Restaurant in Hong Kong

Chinese Cuisine Fine Dining

The 2020 Michelin 3-star Restaurant

Paper-based Technology Advances Earlier Cancer Detection

Tina Hilding wrote . . . . . . . . .

Washington State University researchers have developed a technology that is more than 30 times more sensitive than current lab-based tests in finding early stage cancer biomarkers in blood.

The technology uses an electric field to concentrate and separate cancer biomarkers onto a paper strip. It could someday become a kind of liquid biopsy and could lead to earlier detection of and faster treatments for cancer, a disease that causes more than 9.6 million deaths a year around the world.

Led by Wenji Dong, associate professor in the Gene and Linda Voiland School of Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering, and graduate student Shuang Guo, the researchers were able to detect miniscule levels of the cancer markers in tiny extracellular bubbles called exosomes in as little as 10 minutes. Reporting on their work in the journal, Biosensors and Bioelectronics, the researchers call the work a “significant step” in developing rapid testing and early cancer detection.

Researchers have long sought ways to detect cancer earlier to save more lives. While lab tests to detect tumor biomarkers in blood have been developed, they often can’t find early-stage cancer because the cancer markers are at levels too low to detect. Instead, people most often find out they have cancer through invasive biopsies once tumors are established.In recent years, researchers have discovered that one of the ways cancer cells spread and communicate with other parts of the body is by way of tiny exosome vesicles in blood or other fluids. Ranging in size from 40 to 120 nanometers, or about 1000 times smaller in width than a strand of hair, the exosomes are thought to shuttle molecules from parent cancer cells through the body, entering and then re-programming friendly cells to become cancerous. Cancer cells also secrete more exosome bubbles than regular cells.

“Exosomes provide a unique opportunity as a cancer marker,” Dong said.

A paper-based isotachophoresis (ITP) device that isolates, enriches, and detects exosomes
Image of the paper-based isotachophoresis (ITP) device that isolates, enriches, and detects exosomes from a prostate cancer cell line.
However, finding the cancer-filled exosomes in blood testing is challenging. They look the same as normal cell exosomes and other extracellular bubbles, and they are at very low levels in the blood in early cancer.

The WSU team for the first time applied a technology that uses an electric field to rapidly isolate, enrich and detect the exosomes taken from a prostate cancer cell line. The technology was able to concentrate and then separate the cancer-cell exosomes from those from normal cells by way of immune-binding. That is, the researchers captured the target exosomes by using an antibody that is specific to a protein marker on the exosome surface. The researchers were also able to separate out and analyze cancer protein markers within the exosomes. The technology was 33 times more sensitive than conventional methods that are used in research labs to detect and analyze exosomes.

“This has the potential to become a technique capable of concentrating samples by orders of magnitude in minutes,” Dong said.

The researchers demonstrated their technology successfully with a test serum. They are now working to improve it using a greater amount of human blood which, with a confusing mix of hormones, lipids, and other elements floating around, can create a challenging environment for successful testing. The researchers are also working to adjust the power requirements of the technology, so that it can be used portably and more easily in a medical setting.

Source: Washington State University

Early-life Education Improves Memory in Old Age — Especially for Women

Education appears to protect older adults, especially women, against memory loss, according to a study by investigators at Georgetown University Medical Center, published in the journal Aging, Neuropsychology, and Cognition.

The results suggest that children — especially girls — who attend school for longer will have better memory abilities in old age. This may have implications for memory loss in Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.

The study tested declarative memory in 704 older adults (58-98 years of age). Declarative memory refers to our ability to remember events, facts and words, such as where you put your keys or the name of that new neighbor.

Participants were shown drawings of objects, and then were tested several minutes later on their memory of these objects. The investigators found that their memory performance became progressively worse with aging. However, more years of early-life education countered these losses, especially in women.

In men, the memory gains associated with each year of education were two times larger than the losses experienced during each year of aging. However, in women, the gains were five times larger.

For example, the declarative memory abilities of an 80-year-old woman with a bachelor’s degree would be as good as those of a 60-year-old woman with a high school education. So, four extra years of education make up for the memory losses from 20 years of aging.

“Simply said, learning begets learning,” says the study’s senior investigator, Michael Ullman, PhD, a professor in Georgetown’s Department of Neuroscience and Director of the Brain and Language Lab. Ullman’s research on the relationship between language, memory and the brain has been a cornerstone in the fields of language and cognitive neuroscience.

“Since learning new information in declarative memory is easier if it is related to knowledge we already have, more knowledge from more education should result in better memory abilities, even years later,” adds the study’s lead author, Jana Reifegerste, PhD, a member of the scientific staff at the University of Potsdam, Germany, who worked on this study as a postdoctoral researcher in Ullman’s lab.

“Evidence suggests that girls often have better declarative memory than boys, so education may lead to greater knowledge gains in girls,” says Ullman. “Education may thus particularly benefit memory abilities in women, even years later in old age.”

The study tested individuals in a non-Western (Taiwanese) population. Participants varied in the number of years of education, from none at all to graduate studies. Future research is needed to test whether the findings generalize to other populations, Ullman says.

“These findings may be important, especially considering the rapidly aging population globally,” Reifegerste says. “The results argue for further efforts to increase access to education.”

“Education has also been found to delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease,” Ullman says. “We believe that our findings may shed light on why this occurs.”

Source: Georgetown University Medical Center


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