After Rice and Wheat, Pulses (dal) has been one of the most common food item consumed in India. It would be correct to call it a staple as the recipes may change from region to region but it is a part of most peoples diet. It is generally labelled as dried or split pulses. In North India, it is consumed along with rice, chapati or naan. While in the South, it is used essentially to make the popular dish called ‘sambar’. The rice-dal combination is substantially addressed as ‘dal bhat’ in Bengal. Apart from this, some of the dal and their mixtures are even fried and salted to be eaten as a snack.
Why you should be including dals in your diet?
Dals are a powerhouse of some paramount nutrients: Namely Vitamin-B, C and E, folate, calcium, thiamine, manganese and dietary minerals such as iron and phosphorus besides being high in protein, carbohydrates and fibre.
Good for diabetics: Dal constitutes an abundant amount of dietary fibre which is low in glycemic index and therefore prevents sudden glucose fluctuations predominantly in diabetic people.
Cholesterol management: The fibre also improves heart health by preventing the digestive system from absorbing cholesterol.
Weight management: Being low in fat and carbohydrates and high in fibre, makes it a go-to meal for people suffering from obesity.
Affordable source of nutrients: A large population of India is facing severe health hazards importantly Protein-energy malnutrition and micronutrient deficiency which can be terminated by the inclusion of different varieties of pulses since they are rich in proteins, minerals, iron and fibre.
As per a report published by LANSA, the average pulse consumption in India is less than 38 gms per day while Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) recommends consumption of more than 40 grams of pulses per day for an average sedentary man and women.
Various types of pulses are devoured in different states of India. Following are a few benefits of some specific dals:
Bengal gram and red gram: These are the most desired pulses in the northern parts. 100 grams of Bengal gram contains around 4.6 mg of iron, 186 mg of folic acid, 202 mg of calcium, 17 grams protein and approximately 360 calories, red gram has similar values.
Moong dal: It is loaded with protein and is low carbohydrate and constitute an integral part of the Indian cuisine and is pretty much famous among those who want to shed kilos. Yellow moong dal is light and easy to digest and low in carbohydrates, unlike other pulses. Moong beans are an excellent source of protein for vegetarians and provide 24 grams of protein in 100 grams.
Chickpeas: They reduce heart disorders, aids in weight loss, controls insulin resistivity and potentially reduces the risk of cancer.
Soybeans: These are rich in antioxidants and can reduce the risk of certain cancers, heart diseases and decrease menopausal bone density loss.
Other pulses: Green gram, lentils, horse gram, cowpea and moth gram are also protein-rich and highly nutritious.
How can you incorporate more dal in your diet?
There are numerous ways in which you can increase the intake of dal or pulses in your diet. They can be incorporated in a variety of recipes such as sprouts, cheela, dhokla, kadhi, dal soup, dal kebabs, sprouted salads, dried and roasted snacks etc. They can also be added in combination of vegetables and meat which eventually elevate the nutrient content of the recipes.
Who should restrict pulse intake?
As such pulses does not show any side effects but people who are prone to flatulence and poor digestive system should abstain from having them too much especially at night since some pulses contains lectins, phytoestrogens, Galectins, protease inhibitors and saponins which may interfere in the absorption of macro and micronutrients in the gut and also promote gastric issues. This problem can be resolved by soaking beans and lentils overnight and cooking them well. Also, People who are having chronic renal diseases should be refrained from eating beans and pulses because of their high protein composition. Otherwise, it is a superfood with countless health benefits.