What’s the Difference Between a Legume, Bean, and Pulse?

You’ve probably heard about legumes, pulses, and beans before, but what’s the difference? Let’s clear up the confusion once and for all.

Here’s what you need to know about these fiber-filled treasures, and how you can easily incorporate them into your diet.


Legumes include all types and forms of beans and peas that come from the Fabaceae (or Leguminosae) botanical family. In other words, legumes are the umbrella family that all beans, peas, and pulses fall under, and include thousands of varieties grown around the world.

All forms of legumes are naturally low in fat and cholesterol, as well as high in fiber and protein. Legumes are also a good source of iron, magnesium, and folate — essential vitamins and minerals needed for a number of bodily functions, including cell growth and formation, bone formation, and immunity.

Up the legume intake for the entire family with these 40 Bean-Based, Family-Friendly Recipes!


Pulses are the dried seeds of the legume plants and include beans, lentils, and peas. Hundreds of different varieties of pulses are grown around the globe. The word stems from the latin word puls, meaning seeds that can be made into a thick soup. 

Pulses are an affordable source of plant-based protein, with about 2-3 times as much protein per serving than cereal grains such as rice, oats, barley, and wheat. A one-cup serving also has almost half your daily needs of fiber, including both soluble and insoluble fiber, as well as resistant starches. These types of fiber can aid in digestion and help improve gut health and motility.

Add a serving of pulses to your morning meal with this Ginger-Tahini Yogurt Bowl with Zucchini and Chickpeas.


Beans and legumes are often used interchangeably, but beans are actually a member of the legume family, and not entirely the same thing. They are also a type of pulse. Some of the most common types of beans include chickpeas, pinto, kidney, cannellini, and black beans.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends adults consume 3 cups of beans per week, which is equivalent to about a  ½ cup serving per day. Research shows that including beans as part of a healthy diet may help reduce the risk of heart disease and certain types of cancers, lower blood pressure, support weight control, and help manage diabetes.  

Enjoy beans in a whole new way with this Creamy Chocolate, Cannellini Bean, and Cinnamon Smoothie.