Dal rice, a favourite of several Indian households, is the staple food of this country. Similarly, a variety of other pulses are holding strongly to their age-old popularity of being healthy foods; and rightfully so! Pulses – chickpeas or garbanzo beans, dry peas and lentils – are low in fat, high in fibre, contain no cholesterol, are low on the glycemic index and are high protein foods.
In the age of packaged and processed foods, pulses and dals are little saviours, nesting on your plate, ready to deliver high nutrition to your body. Here are seven reasons to include pulses in your daily diet:
1. An excellent source of protein:
Pulses are a healthy and inexpensive source of protein. Coupled with other vegetables and grains, pulses help meet most of your protein needs. Moreover, since pulses do not contain gluten, they are the ideal protein sources for individuals who are gluten-intolerant or have a gluten allergy.
2. Great for heart health:
The high fibre content in pulses helps reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases. A cup of cooked dal provides fibre that is equivalent to 60% of your daily required value. The fibre thus obtained lowers cholesterol levels. These potassium-rich pulses are also excellent for lowering blood pressure, thus promoting heart health.
3. Reduces the risk of Diabetes:
Glycemic Index ranks food based on how it affects your blood sugar levels. Pulses, being low on the glycemic index, cause only a small rise in blood sugar levels, thus lowering the risk of diabetes. For those who are already suffering from diabetes, incorporating pulses in your diet can help better manage blood sugar levels.
4. Rich source of folate:
Pulses also are a treasure trove of folate – folate is a B vitamin required to produce, maintain and renew body cells. The importance of folate particularly arises during vital growth periods such as infancy and pregnancy. Consuming adequate pulses during pregnancy can lower the risk of infantile problems or birth defects.
5. High in Potassium:
Besides being rich sources of folate and protein, pulses are also high in potassium content. Foods with high potassium fall within the domain of heart-healthy foods, since potassium aids in lowering blood pressure due to its counteractive benefits against the effects of sodium. Consume a portion of pulses at each meal to get your daily requirement of potassium.
6. Boost your enzymes:
Certain pulses contain requisite amounts of copper. Copper is a mineral that is key in the functionality of several body enzymes. Specifically, copper is extremely vital in the production of melanin, the skin’s pigment colour, and the development of connective tissues. One serving of pulses such as the adzuki beans delivers close to 34% of the body’s daily copper requirements.
7. Specific diets:
Since pulses such as chickpeas, peas and lentils do not contain gluten, they can be used in gluten-free food preparations for people who suffer from celiac disease. Consumption of lentils helps in the management of blood glucose, making it a great addition to a diabetic diet. They contain eight essential amino acids, making them the perfect vegetarian protein choice for those who do not consume animal protein, especially when consumed with rice. The high fibre content of pulses helps in making one feel full for longer; coupled with the fat content, pulses are an excellent addition to a weight management diet. One serving of cooked lentils or pulses contains more than 15 grams of fibre, thereby improving heart health and lowering cholesterol levels. Pulses are rich in potassium, which helps in lowering blood pressure. Finally, they are a superb source of protein, compensating for the lack of protein consumption by vegetarians.
Simply put, pulses are power foods in their own right, and your body will thank you for adding them into your daily meals.