The Power of Pulses for PCOS

The plant-based powers that come from key nutrients found in pulses, makes these foods great for women with PCOS to include into their eating. Pulses are dry, edible seeds from plants parts that are held inside of a pod. Examples include beans, lentils, and peas. The key difference between pulses and other legume family members are the nutrient profile found in the dried seed verses the fresh pod. Pulses have been around for thousands of years, and are a known stable in the Mediterranean diet. Here’s what women with PCOS should know about pulses and how to fit them into a healthy way of eating for PCOS.

Behind the Power of Pulses

Pulses are considered a nutrition powerhouse. That’s because they are packed with protein, fiber, and vitamins and minerals that can help reduce the risk for type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Women with PCOS may find that including pulses helps to maintain healthy blood glucose ranges and adds variety to their eating.  Here’s some of the highlights of what pulses can provide to women with PCOS:

Rich in Soluble Fiber

Several emerging studies suggest that the resistant starch (soluble fiber) compounds found in dried beans aid in the stabilization of blood glucose and the demand on insulin in the body. Because they are so rich in fiber and protein, pulses are low on the glycemic index. Soluble fiber, known to resist and slow digestion, helps to decrease the rise in glucose and insulin. For woman with PCOS, this means that a diet fueled by pulses can help to manage the negative symptoms of PCOS related to insulin resistance. Pulses also help to grow healthy gut bacteria, necessary for good colon health and to fight inflammation.

Excellent Vitamin and Mineral Profile

Pluses present an exemplary profile of vitamins and minerals often deficient in women living with PCOS. Just a 1/2-cup serving contains at least 20% of the daily value for fiber, folate, and manganese; at least 10% of the daily value for potassium, iron, magnesium, and copper; and 6% to 8% DV for selenium and zinc. Pulses also have phytochemicals and phenolic compounds to help fight inflammation. Magnesium in particular, has been shown to be significantly lacking in women with PCOS. Magnesium is important for glucose, insulin, and blood pressure regulation.

Culturally Diverse Dishes

Pulses are also very culturally diverse and play important roles in different cuisine from all around the world. Garbanzo beans (chickpeas), for example have a strong tie to Spanish and Mediterranean dishes. Pinto beans are important to Mexican and Native American dishes. Lentils are tied to many prominent dishes from India. All are added to dishes for great balance in texture and nutrition. Try mixing your favorites beans into your dishes.


Many Types of Pulses

  • Aduki beans
  • Black turtle beans
  • Black eyed peas
  • Borlotti beans
  • Broad beans (fava beans)
  • Cannelloni beans
  • Chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
  • Flageolet beans
  • Haricot
  • Kidney beans
  • Lentils – red, green, brown, puy
  • Lima beans (butter beans)
  • Lupin
  • Navy beans
  • Marrowfat peas
  • Mung beans
  • Pinto beans
  • Split peas
  • White beans

 Preparing Pulses

Pulses can be prepared dry or canned. Using dry pulses takes considerable more time to prepare as they need to be soaked first before cooking them in plenty of fresh water (this helps to reduce gassiness). When using canned pulses, it’s important to rise them well before eating.

Dining with Pulses

Really, pulses can be incorporated into any meal or occasion. Here are some great ways to incorporate pulses into your eating:

  • For breakfast enjoy huevos rancheros or breakfast bean burritos
  • At snack-time enjoy roasted chickpeas
  • Add your favorite beans to salads
  • Enjoy pulses in soups such as lentil or black bean
  • Add pulses to chili or bean stews
  • Use chickpeas and chickpea flour to make falafels
  • Use black beans in veggie burgers
  • Make chickpea pancakes
  • Pulses make a great dip to use as an appetizer or snack such as hummus or bean dips.
  • Use pulse flours to make breads, muffins, waffles, pancakes, cookies, and bars.
  • Use pastas made from beans such as chickpeas

For recipes that use pulses, check out The PCOS Nutrition Center Cookbook: 100 Easy and Delicious Recipes to Beat PCOS.

pcos cookbook

Chickpea pasta with walnut pesto and shrimp (1)

Let us know: What are your favorite ways to eat pulses?


Source: Today’s Dietitian Magazine accessed August 9, 2018

Ashley Schimke is an advocate for women’s health, specifically within the specialization of infertility and nutrition therapy. With a bachelor’s of science in dietetics and a minor in business from Arizona State University, Ashley works to improve the culture of healthy eating by helping others to reconnect with whole foods and their community. Her experience as a program specialist with the Arizona Department of Education focuses on researched-based, public health approaches to  healthy eating, food system development, and public policy. Her interests include continued research in the fields of nutrition and psychology.

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