On November 19, 2015, the Academy's Sackler Institute for Nutrition Science and Bush Brothers and Company sponsored a full-day conference on pulses, titled Little Beans, Big Opportunities: Realizing the Potential of Pulses to Meet Today's Global Health Challenges. The event celebrated the United Nations' declaration of 2016 as the International Year of Pulses, a measure intended to highlight the potential of dry peas, beans, lentils, and chickpeas to improve both human health and the sustainability of global agriculture.

The keynote presentation focused on how these little beans could help solve the synergistic threats of malnutrition and environmental degradation worldwide. Speakers in the morning session discussed the many health benefits of pulses. Clinical trials have shown that legume-based supplements can prevent childhood growth stunting in developing countries. Bean consumption also leads to improvements in markers associated with type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease and promotes a healthy intestinal microbiome.

Humans have grown and eaten pulses for over 10 000 years, and in many countries the agricultural techniques for pulse production are virtually unchanged. Speakers in the afternoon session described the urgent need to improve the efficiency of pulse production and discussed ideas for increasing supply and demand for these crops.

The Little Beans, Big Opportunities: Using Pulses to Meet Today's Global Health Challenges eBriefing considers how pulse consumption contributes to health and how food systems could be improved to promote pulse production in 2016, the International Year of Pulses.

Visit the New York Academy of Sciences website to view the eBriefing!