Food researchers highlight pulse potential

Image of Professor Lynne Cobiac speaking at a conference

CSIRO’s Food and Nutrition Flagship science director Professor Lynne Cobiac speaking at the On the Pulse Symposium at the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) in Adelaide, South Australia.


On 4 May leading researchers gathered in Adelaide to discuss the human health benefits of pulses and recent developments in pulse food innovation. The symposium, On the Pulse, highlighted the opportunities for these Australian crops to be positioned as superior-quality human foods.

Keynote speaker Professor Lynne Cobiac, from CSIRO, spoke about the potential of pulses in addressing the triple challenge of the global food supply: ensuring food security, producing food within a changing environment and producing healthy food to mitigate the chronic disease burden while still addressing malnutrition.

The GLNC logo

The health and nutrition session began with Dr Jonathan Hodgson from the University of Western Australia explaining how trials have shown lupin-enriched foods, including breads, can reduce appetite and improve both blood glucose control and blood pressure.

Pulses also have potential positive health effects through the gut microbiome. Dr Trevor Lockett from CSIRO described how dietary fibre from pulses may modify gut microbial populations and these changes can help improve a range of conditions from bowel disease and depression to neurodegenerative disorders.

The potential role of pulses in cancer prevention was discussed by Dr Siem Siah from the Australian Export Grains Innovation Centre (AEGIC). She described how the protective effect may be explained by antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of minor constituents found in pulses. 

2016 International Year of Pulses logo

A new global consensus presented at the symposium recommends 100 grams of cooked pulses a week to achieve a nutritional benefit. Current average intakes are well below this, indicating clear opportunities for increased demand for pulses as human food.

The afternoon session focused on food innovation. Dr Li Hui Liu from CSIRO discussed the development of dietary fibre and protein ingredients from lupin for both western and Asian food products. Dr Anthony Saliba from Charles Sturt University talked about how what we eat is affected by a range of factors beyond taste and how people are shifting to healthy and ethical food choices, both of which place pulses in prime position.

As an example of some of the innovations happening with pulses, Dr Ken Quail from AEGIC presented the work behind a new pulse product from Foods of the Earth: nut-free, pulse-based pastes.

On the Pulse was run by the Grains & Legumes Nutrition Council on behalf of the Australian National Committee celebrating 2016 United Nations International Year of Pulses, proudly supported by Blue Ribbon.

More information:

Grains & Legumes Nutrition Council

GRDC Project Code GOG00009

Region West