The purpose of this study was to determine the socio-ecological influences on dry grain pulse consumption (beans, peas, lentils, chickpeas) among low-socioeconomic women in Iowa. Seven focus groups were conducted, with 36 women who qualified for income-based federal assistance. Data were collected from October 2017 to January 2018. Participants completed a survey that gathered individual demographics, assessed perceptions of dry grain pulses, and level of food security. Fifty-eight percent of the women were non-Hispanic white, and 39% were African American, all with an average age of 34.7 years. Thirty-three percent of the women consumed pulses less than once per week. Over 80% agreed that beans were healthful and satiating. Some health benefits of beans were unknown by more than 33% of the population, e.g., lower cancer risk, lower LDL, maintain blood glucose. Only 30% of the women were food secure. Focus group audio recordings were transcribed and analyzed by two researchers, using the grounded theory approach. At the policy level, participants knew pulses were included in USA federal nutrition assistance programs like the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). Pulses were widely available in grocery stores in communities. Interpersonally, women felt that male partners preferred meats, and children needed animal-source proteins. Individually, women perceived uncooked dry pulses were challenging to prepare. Conclusively, more detailed instruction on pulse preparation, different pulse varieties, and offering canned pulses through WIC may increase consumption.
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