Improving pulse crops as a source of protein, starch and micronutrients
Pulse crops have been known for a long time to have beneficial nutritional profiles for human diets, but have been neglected in terms of cultivation, consumption and scientific research in many parts of the world. Broad dietary shifts will be required if anthropogenic climate change is to be mitigated in the future, and pulse crops should be an important component of this change by providing an environmentally sustainable source of protein, resistant starch and micronutrients. Further enhancement of the nutritional composition of pulse crops could benefit human health, helping to alleviate micronutrient deficiencies and chronic diseases such as type-2 diabetes. This paper reviews current knowledge regarding the nutritional content of pea (Pisum sativum L.) and faba bean (Vicia faba L.), two major UK pulse crops, and discusses the potential for their genetic improvement.