Pulses is a general name given to plants that provide dried edible seeds. Split pulses in India are known as Dal. Dried peas and beans have about the same composition as Pulses. In tropics, pulses are second only to cereals as important sources of calories and proteins. Bengal gram ( chana dal ), red gram ( tuver dal ), green gram ( mung dal ), black gram ( urad dal ) and lentils ( masur dal ) are the most widely consumed pulses in India.
Why should I be aware of this?
- Pulses supply the same amount of calories as cereals ie 350 kcal per 100 gm dry weight.
- The protein content of pulses is about 20% to 25% about twice as much as that of cereal's, making them the most economical source of proteins.
- When 100 grams of whole green pulse is sprouted, the sprouts provide 0.06 mg thiamine, 0.66 mg riboflavin, 1.5 mg niacin and 82 mg ascorbic acid.
- Other key nutrients provided by the pulse are iron, vitamins of B group and dietary fiber which mainly comes from whole pulses.
- Pulses are also called wonder food as they are low in fat and absorb the flavor of spices and herbs making them tasty to eat.
- Pulses give an alternative source of proteins without fat for the non-vegetarians where as for the vegetarians it is the only source of proteins.
All about pulses
Various forms in which pulses can be eaten
- By roasting: Roasting any gram in iron utensils can increase its iron content. It also improves its protein digestibility and protein quality. A handful of roasted chick-pea is a good option for in between meals.
- Fermentation: Fermentation of grinded pulses with rice to prepare idly dosa dhokla increase its content of Vitamin B. It is also light in digestion. Even the people suffering from fever are given this.
- Germination and sprouting: The vitamin C content of the pulses can be greatly increased by soaking them in water and allowing them to germinate. The vitamin A content increases on the third day after germination when the shoots change from yellow to green with an increase of chlorophyll. Germinated pulses have an easily digestible form of carbohydrates- maltose. Half a cup of any sprouted seed provides vitamin C equivalent to six glasses of orange juice. So a plateful of sprouted green gram salad is a tasty and healthy way of getting your daily dose of vitamins.
- Vegetables and pulses combination: A combination of pulses with vegetables provide adequate amount of vitamins and minerals. For example sambhar can be prepared by cooking arhar dal with vegetables like pumpkin, bottle-gourd, brinjal, onion etc. Spinach can be cooked with green gram or chick –pea or soyabean to make it tasty.
- Cereal pulses combination: A combination of cereals with pulses provide adequate amount of proteins of high biological value. The common practice of cooking rice with pulses (khichri) is highly nutritious. You can add vegetables also with this to make it tastier. Chappatis can be made by mixing wheat flour with Bengal gram flour. The flour of the pulses can be added to soups, vegetables curries to make it thicker and tastier. Sweets prepared from green gram and Bengal gram flour can be a good high protein supplement for kids.
Pulses and health
- Pulses are rich in proteins and vitamins A, B which are essential for the well being of the human being.
- It has complex carbohydrates like oligosaccharides, fiber and resistant starch which are beneficial for lowering the cholesterol. Hence it is beneficial for the cardiac patients.
- Pulses contain minerals like iron and have only little fat content.
- Pulses have low glycemic index of around GI of 55 that leads to a slower digestion process and it benefits the people having diabetics. Glycemic index is a way to rank the carbohydrate content of the food. Low Glycemic index means slower break down of the food and it rise the blood glucose level slowly. Then the insulin produced by the diabetic patient’s body will be enough to break down the less amount of blood glucose level. This will help to control the diabetics.
- The low glycemic index of pulses will adversely affect the fat deposition in the body. Pulses bring down the triglycerides in the body and thus the fat deposition and are a good food of people having obesity problem. It also helps the cardiac patients as it reduces the fat deposition in the blood vessels and arteries.
- Pulses help to reduce the lipids present in the blood and which in turn avoids the diabetic complications.
- Pulses contain antioxidants which are found to reduce the risks of cancer.
- Pulses are found to be devoid of a protein called gluten. Hence it can be prescribed to people having celiac disease. Celiac disease is a situation in which the patient will have sensitive small intestine to the gluten which ultimately results in improper digestion.