How pulses make a pipeline for nutrition? Read a nutrition consultant…

How pulses make a pipeline for nutrition Read a nutrition consultant

We need to take a closer look at our meal plates to see whether or not they fulfill our nutrition requirement? While the COVID-19 pandemic is leading to lost jobs, reduced food and increased malnutrition on the one hand, it is also making us sit up and take notice of what we really need to eat in order to build and maintain health.

We have all known for a long time that the key to good health is eating right, among other things. A well-rounded meal plan should have a variety of foods from all food groups like cereals, pulses, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, dairy, etc.

Pulses have been an integral part of Indian diets for centuries. Some of the commonly used pulses and dals in India are chana, rajma, moong, tur, urad, masoor, soybean, horse gram, etc. Vegetarians and vegans depend on pulses to a great extent, for their protein requirement. Protein requirement is different for different age groups and gender. Either in the whole form or split into dals, pulses are an everyday ingredient in gravies, dal makhni, dal fry, sambar, rasam, khichdi, idli, dosa, cheela, seasonings, accompaniments and much more. In other cuisines, pulses find a place in soups, salads, casseroles, burritos, falafel, hummus, and so on.

Nutrition-wise, pulses provide protein, fibre (soluble and insoluble), complex carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals like iron, zinc, folate, magnesium, etc. Although pulses are high in protein content, on an average, pulses contain about 20 gm protein in 100 gm edible portion, they need to be combined with cereals in order to obtain the benefit of all the essential amino acids.

Idli, dosa, pongal, khichdi, roti-dal are some examples of cereal-pulse combination. Pulses and dals have very little fat unless they are deep fried or included in oily gravies. On an average, about 1.5 gm of fat in 100 gm of edible portion, except for soybean which has about 19 gm fat.

Raw pulses can be stored for many weeks without losing their nutritional value.

The high fibre content and low glycemic index of pulses help improve blood glucose and insulin levels. On an average about 15 gm of fibre in 100 gm of edible portion. Glycemic index less than 55 gm.

The iron content in pulses can be made bio-available by combining them with foods rich in vitamin C. Since they are gluten-free, pulses and dals can be given to all gluten-intolerant persons. Pulses are a great substitute for meat as they are cholesterol-free and contain almost no saturated fat. Soaking and rinsing the pulses before cooking helps reduce their flatulence effect. Sprouting is another great way to consume pulses. This process increases the vitamin content and enhances the digestibility of pulses. The phytochemicals present in pulses are believed to be beneficial too. There is no defined percentage for phytochemicals requirement.

Although pulses play an important role in building health, they are consumed in lesser quantities than required. According to NSSO survey, 2011-2012, the per capita consumption of pulses in rural areas was about 26 gm and urban areas was about 30 gm.

The recommended intake of pulses per day is anything between 60 to 120 gm per adult per day , depending upon the activity and gender of the individual. This quantity can be distributed over 2 to 3 meals in the day.

Including pulses in the daily diet is a healthy way to meet dietary recommendations. So, start this habit today!

{Sheela Krishnaswamy is the founder of Nutrition Nectar and a nutrition and wellness consultant with India Pulses and Grains Association (IPGA). Views expressed in the article are author’s own.}. 

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About Sheela Krishnaswamy

Sheela Krishnaswamy is the founder of Nutrition Nectar and a nutrition and wellness consultant with India Pulses and Grains Association (IPGA).

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