Benefits of Pulses

Sheela Krishnaswamy
Sheela Krishnaswamy
Sheela Krishnaswamy is a Registered Dietitian with 38 years of professional experience in the clinical, corporate and communication spaces. She was trained in India and overseas. She is active in national and international dietetic associations. She has had a media presence for the last 25 years. Formerly, a successful nutrition entrepreneur, an editor, a public speaker and a blogger, currently she works independently as Nutrition & Wellness Consultant, Advisor, Anchor, Writer and Corporate Trainer.

Pulses and dals have been around in India for as long as we can remember. They form an integral part of Indian diets and we continue to depend upon pulses to make our meals more wholesome. 

Pulses provide protein, fibre (soluble and insoluble), complex carbohydrates, some vitamins and minerals like iron, zinc, folate, magnesium, etc.  Although pulses are high in protein content, 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, rice-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.  Pulses are also rich in bioactive constituents like polyphenols, phytosterols, resistant starch, oligosaccharides and dietary fibre that are beneficial for managing and preventing many diseases. Sprouting increases the vitamin content and enhances the digestibility of pulses. 

The high fibre content and low glycemic index of pulses help to improve blood glucose and insulin levels.  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 because they are cholesterol-free and contain almost no saturated fat. Soaking and rinsing the pulses before cooking helps to reduce their flatulence effect. 

The infographic below traces the history of pulses over many centuries:


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