Dhals and Pulses as a Rich Source of Protein

Dhals and pulses are a very important source of protein in the Indian and vegetarian diet. Proteins are important building blocks of the human body. Every cellís, cell wall is made up of protein and therefore you cannot make a single new cell in your body without protein.

Children are growing, making new cells every minute they need plenty of protein daily and in every meal. Adults have finished growing but we too need protein as maintenance and repair of skin, muscle tissue, hair, etc. is happening every day.

In the Indian diet milk, curd and dhals and pulses are the main source of protein. Children need about 40-50 gms protein daily on an average. Adults require about 60-70 gm daily. This has to be distributed in every meal to be properly absorbed and used.

Even if you drink a whole liter of milk/curd a day, you get only 30 gm protein from it. Half a cup of thick dhal or cooked channa, rajma, moong, gives about 3-4 gm protein. We advise that this be introduced into the diet both at lunch and dinner.

Besides this we get about 10-15 gm protein a day from the small amounts present in our cereals like bread, rice, chapathi, etc. Egg white and fish, poultry and meats are the other non-veg sources. Vegetables and fruits supply hardly any protein.

On an average people drink 500 -700 ml milk a day. Many donít eat non-veg foods. So the only food to work with which increases protein is dhals/pulses. Making this a part of our regular menu and teaching children to consume this in both lunch and dinner is therefore very important. The common complaint is gas and discomfort. Please note we are only recommending half a cup of cooked dhal or pulse. It can be increased to 1 cup. We donít recommend more than that at a time as it is also high calorie. Unlimited consumption of dhal is not advisable.

Pulses is the name given to whole channa, rajma, moong, lobia, double beans, haricot beans, etc. When the pulse is broken, the grain inside is called dhal. To avoid discomfort find one or two, dhals or pulses which suit you and consume them in different preparations.

The best nutritive value is obtained from the dhal or pulse when it is eaten in combination with chapathi, roti, rice or bread and along with a glass of milk or bowl of curd. Eg.idli sambar and a glass of milk, roti, dhal and curd, rice kidhidi (dhal) and curd, etc.

Dhals /pulses are also a very important source of B vitamin, iron, calcium and zinc. They are also helpful in lowering blood cholesterol levels and keeping blood sugar levels under control. When you eat whole pulses the skin contains fiber which helps in breaking down cholesterol. When you eat dhals/pulses along with rice or roti the blood sugar rise after a meal is slowed down by the dhals presence in the intestine.

Dhal/pulses must be cooked to make all the nutrients available. When eaten raw, as sprouts in salad they give a lot of fiber and vit C but the protein is not available. The protein in the dhal has to be fully cooked to be absorbed into the body.

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