World to learn ‘beans means health’

Photo of spoon and lentils

The International Year of Pulses aims to show why pulses, such as lentils, are good medicine.


In December 2013, the United Nations (UN) declared 2016 as the International Year of Pulses (IYOP). This announcement was made after significant campaigning by the international pulse community led by CICILS IPTIC (Global Pulse Confederation). As part of the planning for the 2016 IYOP, the international pulse community has developed priority theme areas to drive the implementation and outcomes for the year.

The prioritised themes include: Food Security and Nutrition; Creating Awareness; Health, Nutrition and Food Innovation; Market Access and Stability; and Productivity and Environmental Sustainability.

In my capacity as chair of the global Creating Awareness theme, I have been selected to lead the international effort focused on creating awareness. I travelled to Rome in October 2014 as part of planning for the 2016 IYOP.

Australia is also represented by Tim Edgecombe from Pulse Australia, who is a committee member on the global Market Access and Stability theme and the Productivity and Environmental Sustainability theme; and Michelle Broom from the Grains and Legumes Nutrition Council (GLNC) will represent Australia as a member of the global Health, Nutrition and Food Innovation theme.

To support the global coordination, each participating country has established a National Council, or Steering Committee, to lead local program development and implementation. The role of the Steering Committee is to develop a local workplan, link to the global activities and workplans, and deliver the raised awareness of pulses at their national level.

A 2016 IYOP Australian Steering Committee has been established to provide oversight of the program at a national level. The Steering Committee will actively engage and invite members of the Australian pulse community, including researchers, food industry organisations, growers, government and other industry organisations, to provide input into the planning and implementation to ensure the overall program represents the interests of the entire Australian pulse community.

As part of the planning for Australia, the Steering Committee has held two meetings in 2014 and an industry workshop in August 2014 to plan proposed activities for 2016. The final planning session was held on 1 December 2014 and the Steering Committee will share the proposed plan with the industry in early 2015 for feedback.

Grains and Legumes Nutrition Council logo

For Australia, the 2016 IYOP presents immense opportunities to drive local consumption of pulses. GLNC released the findings from a commissioned study in November 2014, which showed, for the first time, solid evidence from an Australian-based study that eating pulses regularly is linked to protection against death from heart disease. This reconfirms GLNC’s core message for Australians to consume pulses at least two to three times a week.

The study’s findings indicate eating pulses at least twice a week is beneficial for reducing the risk of death from cardiovascular disease in middle-aged Australians. The study found middle-aged people who ate pulses such as baked beans or lentils at least twice a week were 20 per cent less likely to die from cardiovascular disease, including stroke or heart attack. This is comparable to the effect of reducing saturated fat in the diet. Intervention studies have also shown eating pulses can reduce cholesterol levels, which could explain the protective effect seen in the GLNC study.

GLNC’s consumption research indicates only one in three Australian adults are eating pulses often enough to reap the protective benefit shown in this study, so any effort to increase awareness of the role of pulses in the diet is beneficial to the entire value chain, especially growers.

Further information can be found at the 2016 IYOP website ( and anyone interested in joining the Australian mailing list to receive more regular updates should contact GLNC via or call 02 8877 7877.

More information:


GM investigations and discoveries


Joint approach to farm biosecurity planning

GRDC Project Code GGO00008

Region National, Overseas