Why dals and pulses are crucial to our diet?
Can you think of Indian food without dal? This humble kitchen staple will always be a crucial ingredient in our diet. Dal and pulses are also a pocket-friendly source of essential nutrients to millions of Indian households.
These little, protein-packed, and nutrient-rich dals can be cooked in many ways, depending on regional variations and individual tastes. As we have these dals and pulses on a fairly regular basis, we tend to take its benefits for granted.
Though pulses and dals are sometimes used interchangeably, there are a few differences between them.
‘Pulses’ refer to the dried seed that includes beans, lentils, peas, and other edible seeds. On the other hand, ‘dals’ are actually the split version of lentils. Dal, in Sanskrit, means ‘to split’. In essence, when a pulse is split into half, that is a ‘dal’. For example, Urad or Black gram becomes ‘urad dal’ when split into half. One clarification though, the thick soups and curries made with these dals are also called ‘daal’ in Hindi and other South Asian languages.
Along with staples like rice and flour, dal is a kitchen staple we cannot do without. Sometimes, taking advantage of this, some people mix the dals and pulses with harmful chemicals or other foodstuffs to earn a few extra bucks. This generally happens with dals and pulses that are sold loose.
Experts recommend buying organic dals and organic pulses, with this, you can be sure of its health benefits. For those who do not know how important these foods are, here are their benefits they need to know.
Benefits of Eating Dal (lentils) Everyday
- Reduces cholesterol levels- With its high level of soluble fibre, dals help lower blood cholesterol levels. Having lentils regularly also protects you against developing heart diseases and protects your arteries from getting blocked.
- Weight Loss- Lentils have almost no fat and are low in calories. One cup of boiled dal/lentils gives you about 230 calories, satisfying your hunger for longer. No doubt, boiled lentils are recommended for weight loss.
- A fantastic source of protein- Almost 26% of lentils is protein. This is crucial for vegans and vegetarians who depend on this for their daily intake of proteins.
Benefits of Eating Pulses
- Great for a healthy heart- Due to their high fibre content, lentils protect you from getting a stroke or any other heart disease. In addition to this, lentils are rich in folate and magnesium, crucial for better heart health. Folate helps reduce homocysteine levels, reducing the risk of heart disease. Additionally, lentils are rich in magnesium, which boosts blood flow, eventually helping oxygen and other nutrients to reach each part of the body.
- Prevents cancer- Pulses have great anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that protect you against the threat of cancer. Many pulses also contain Selenium that decreases the rate at which the tumour grows. Additionally, it helps to stimulate the production of T cells which helps to kill disease-causing pathogens.
- Antioxidant- Pulses are rich in polyphenols, which act as antioxidants for the body. During the metabolism process, the body produces potentially harmful free radicals. Polyphenols help to stop the harm from these free radicals. Pulses are, therefore, a crucial part of our diet.
- Controlling diabetes- Having pulses regularly helps to maintain the level of blood glucose in the body. Due to this, doctors always recommend having pulses and lentils regularly for diabetics. In fact, this can also help to reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes.
- Vitamin B- This is essential for the healthy production of red blood cells and also for pregnant women to prevent neural tube defects.
- Preventing fatty liver- This happens when there is an accumulation of fats in the liver. It can be a co-morbidity(in addition to) with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and obesity. Doctors recommend patients with fatty liver replace fat animal proteins with pulses and legumes.
A few last words...
With these many nutritional benefits, we cannot afford to have a diet sans pulses and dals. Food habits aside, every household does include pulses and dals at least once a week. Those suffering from diabetes and other health conditions need to increase their intake of these nutritious superfoods at least 2-3 times a week. Having the right foods for a healthier lifestyle cannot be stressed further.