Pulses: Types, Nutritional Benefits And Side Effects


Pulses, also termed as grain legumes, are the edible seeds of plants in the legume family. They grow in pods and are of different sizes, shapes and colours and are high in protein, fibre, and various vitamins, and provide the required amount of amino acids to your bodily functions. Consuming pulses can elevate the quality of your diet due to the saponins, phytochemicals and tannins that have antioxidant and anticarcinogenic properties . It is good for celiac disease, constipation and obesity. Pregnant women are advised to consume pulses due to the high amount of folate and iron which are required during and after conception .

In the numerous varieties of pulses, each and every type can be beneficial to your body considering you consume it in a controlled manner . Some of the most common types of pulses available to us are Bengal gram, red gram, mung beans etc.

Read on to know about each of these pulses and the nutritional benefits they possess so that you may incorporate it into your diet.

Also known as black chana or garbanzo beans, Bengal gram is a staple ingredient in the Indian cuisine. Scientifically termed as Cicer arietinum L., Bengal gram is highly nutritious. It is rich in fibre, zinc, calcium, protein and folate. The advantages of incorporating black chana into your daily diet are limitless, due to the plethora of health benefits it possesses .

Its fibre content aids in weight loss, preventing diabetes, and improving digestion   . It is beneficial in controlling your blood pressure, improving cognitive function and heart health . The selenium content in Bengal gram is asserted to have cancer prevention ability. Apart from these, it is also asserted to help in balancing the hormone levels in women, eliminate kidney and bladder stones.

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Scientifically termed as Cajanus cajan, pigeon peas are commonly known as red gram as well. Compared to the other pulses in the legume family, pigeon peas are a better source of protein . Rich in minerals, the legume can help prevent anaemia due to its folate content. It is a good source of sodium, potassium, phosphorus, zinc etc. . Consuming pigeon peas can help improve growth and development as they aid in the formation of cells, tissues, muscles and bones . The high fibre content in the pulse makes it extremely effective in improving your digestive health .

Although the legume does not possess any specific side effects, individuals with allergies to legumes should avoid pigeon peas . Also, overconsumption of the peas can cause excessive flatulence.

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Scientifically termed as Vigna radiata, green gram or mung bean is the best source of plant-based protein. A high source of protein, mung beans also have a good amount of fibre, antioxidants and phytonutrients as well . Due to the presence of dietary fibre, niacin, iron, magnesium and various other nutrients, the legume possesses various health benefits ranging from weight loss to improved immunity. Consuming green gram help in reducing blood pressure, preventing cardiovascular diseases, cancer, PMS symptoms and type 2 diabetes . The pulse is also effective in improving your skin and hair quality .

However, individuals with kidney and gall bladder disorders should avoid it . The pulse can hamper with the efficient absorption of calcium as well.

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Also known as urad dal, the black gram is scientifically termed as Vigna mungo. Due to the plethora of benefits it possesses, it is used in Ayurvedic medicine for improving digestion and regulating blood sugar levels (amongst various other purposes). The dietary fibre in the legume helps improve the digestion process, manages diabetes and helps relieve stomach-related problems like constipation, diarrhoea, cramps or bloating . Apart from these, consuming black gram can help your bones. It can aid in strengthening your nervous system and building muscles as well . The legume is considered to be beneficial during pregnancy .

Excessive consumption of black gram can increase the levels of uric acid, which will not be good for individuals suffering from gallstones or gout.

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Commonly named as rajma, kidney beans are scientifically termed as Phaseolus vulgaris. Rich in fibre, calcium, sodium and various other nutrients, kidney beans aid in weight loss . The fibre content in the bean further acts in promoting heart health . By consuming kidney beans, you can protect yourself from the risk of cancer and liver diseases. They are beneficial for improving digestion, the formation of bones and teeth, and for better skin and hair quality. Due to the folic acid content, kidney beans are extremely good for pregnant women. Likewise, they help in preventing hypertension, boosting memory and detoxification .

Although kidney beans possess all these benefits, overconsumption of kidney beans can cause flatulence and allergic reactions in some people .

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Scientifically termed as Vigna unguiculata, cowpea is considered to be the most beneficial and nourishing legume in the family. It is a good source of protein, dietary fibre, iron, phosphorus and so on . A powerhouse of strength and stamina, incorporating black-eyed pea into your daily diet is highly advantageous for your body. It helps in cleaning out the cholesterol and also in lowering your blood pressure, preventing anaemia, and in controlling your sugar levels . Cowpea aids in lowering pancreatic cancer risk and strengthens your skin, hair and muscles. It is also promotes a healthy pregnancy. Cowpea can enhance your bone strength as well .

Although there are no severe side effects to the legume, overconsumption can cause flatulence.

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Nutritious and a cheap source of protein, lentils are scientifically termed as Lens culinaris. They are rich in fibre, iron and magnesium. The presence of these nutrients accord to the legume being beneficial in promoting heart health . Regular and controlled consumption of lentils can help prevent the onset of cancer, as the polyphenols like flavanols and procyanidin have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective effects . Being an excellent source of iron, lentils help fight fatigue as well. The legume helps in building muscles and cells and is good for pregnant women. It triggers electrolyte activity in your body and increases your energy levels too .

However, avoid consuming the pulse in large quantities as it can cause discomfort in the stomach.

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