“But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank…” (Daniel 1:8) and instead requested “give us pulse to eat, and water to drink” (Daniel 1:12)
What are pulses?
Pulses are the seeds of certain legumes that produce seeds or grains that grow within pods, such as lentils, beans, peas and chickpeas. Pulses are legume crops that are grown for their dry seeds to be used as food or grain.
Pulses are an excellent source of virtually fat free protein, complex carbohydrate, fiber, vitamins (B1, B2 and B3, folate) and a good range of minerals (calcium, zinc, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, copper, manganese and selenium).
What are the Health Benefits of Eating Pulses?
Pulses are good sources of protein
Pulses are a healthy and inexpensive source of protein. One cup serving of cooked soybeans contains more than 28 grams of protein, while a 3-oz portion of chicken contains 24 grams of protein.
Although the protein content of pulses does not contain all the essential amino acids needed by man, this could easily be remedied by combining it with a cereal or grain to complete the essential amino acids needed for health.
Good examples are: toasted whole wheat bread with peanut butter, pita bread with hummus or mung bean with brown or unpolished rice.
Pulses are a good source of complex carbohydrates
All pulses contain complex carbohydrates and is one of the reasons why pulses have a low glycemic index (an indicator of how fast sugars are absorbed into the blood stream).
Complex carbohydrates takes time before they are converted into sugars and this leads to slow absorption of sugars into the blood stream. This results in lower blood sugar levels.
For normal individuals, this lowers the risk of diabetes and for those who have diabetes, this help them manage their blood sugar levels.
Pulses are rich sources of fiber.
One serving (1 cup) of cooked lentils contains more than 15 grams of fiber. This value meets 60% of a person’s recommended daily need for fibers.
Pulses contain both soluble fibers and insoluble fibers. Soluble fibers help lower blood cholesterol levels and therefore good for heart health. Insoluble fibers help in digestion and help maintain a regular bowel movement.
Fiber also gives that “full” feeling that lasts till the next meal and thus prevents a person from eating in between meals. This is important in maintaining a healthy weight and help prevent obesity from occurring.
Pulses are a good source of folate
Pulses are a good source of vitamins, specially folate. Folate is a vitamin that is essential in the maturation and formation of cells in the body. This is especially important during periods of rapid growth such as in pregnancy and infancy.
Lack of folate could also prevent red blood cells in maturing, thus giving rise to a condition called pernicious anemia.
Pulses are a good source of a wide range of minerals
Pulses contain a wide range of minerals which include iron, potassium and selenium.
Iron is a mineral that is needed in the formation of red blood cells. Iron is a component of hemoglobin, the red coloring matter of the blood. Hemoglobin is the one responsible in carrying oxygen to the different parts of the body.
One issue in the vegetarian diet is the lack of iron. Since pulses are a good source of iron, eating regularly of a variety of pulse would help solve this issue.
Potassium is a mineral essential in a healthy heart. They help lower blood pressure since they counter the effect of sodium.
Selenium is a mineral that acts as an antioxidant. Antioxidants are very important in the prevention of cancer.
Pulses, also contains lots of phytonutrients, antioxidants and substances that inhibits enzymes linked to tumor growth.
Note: Nutritional value of pulses were taken from National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference of the Agricultural Research Service of USDA