Every year, the World Health Organization selects a priority area of global public health concern as the theme for World Health Day, which falls on 7 April, the birthday of the Organization. This year’s theme is diabetes, a noncommunicable disease (NCD) directly impacting millions of people of worldwide, generally in low- and middle-income countries.
Diabetes is a chronic, metabolic disease characterized by elevated levels of blood glucose which may over time lead to serious damage to the heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys, and nerves. According to the World Health Organization, in 2014 the global prevalence of diabetes was estimated to be 9% among adults over the age of 18. In 2012, it was estimated that 1.5 million deaths were directly caused by diabetes and more than 80% of diabetes deaths occur in low and middle income countries.
The prevalence of diabetes has been steadily increasing in the past few decades, in particular in low- and middle-income countries. Knowledge exists to reverse this trend through targeted prevention and appropriate care. A key to preventing type 2 diabetes is a healthy diet and this is where pulses can play an integral role. However, they are often overlooked in our diets. As nutrient-dense foods, pulses offer a wide range of health benefits. These benefits include:
- High in dietary fibre, with approximately 15 grams of dietary fibre per cup and a low Glycemic Index (GI), meaning that our bodies convert them to blood sugar more slowly and evenly;
- A low-fat high protein source, comprised of 23% protein and only 1% fat with only about 250 calories per cup;
- Packed with essential micronutrients, such as iron, potassium, magnesium, zinc and B vitamins including folate, thiamin and niacin.
- Pulses complement cereals to provide together full daily protein requirements.
With the developing world bearing the brunt of the impact of diabetes, pulses are an affordable and accessible source of nutrient dense food which can help manage diabetes. On April 1st, 2016 we will be launching the World’s Greatest Pulses dishes in conjunction with our new and improved pulses.org site. We encourage you to find a recipe you love and cook it on April 7th to help combat diabetes! Share this on social media with the #pulserecipes and #diabetes.
For more information on the International Year of Pulses, visit iyp2016.org.