Nutritive value, Toxic constituents in pulses, Germination, Forms, Role, Health benefits of pulses - Pulses | 11th Nutrition and Dietetics : Chapter 2 : Cereals and Pulses

Chapter: 11th Nutrition and Dietetics : Chapter 2 : Cereals and Pulses


Pulses are edible fruits or seeds of pod bearing plants.


Pulses are edible fruits or seeds of pod bearing plants. Pulses are the edible seeds of plants in the legume family. Pulses grow in pods and come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors. Different varieties of pulses are grown around the globe. The major pulses or dhals which find important place in Indian diet are red gram dhal, Bengal gram dhal, black gram dhal and green gram dhal. Some pulses like Bengal gram, green gram, rajmah, soya bean dry peas are used as whole grams. A legume is a plant or its fruit or seed. Well known legumes include chickpeas, channa and soyabean.


Nutritive value of pulses

Pulses give 340 calories per 100 grams which is almost similar to cereal calorie value. Pulses contain 55 to 60 percent starch. In a vegetarian diet, pulses are important sources of protein. They give about 20-25 percent protein that is double the amount of protein compared to cereals. The proteins of pulses are not of good quality as they are deficient in aminoacids. Pulses contain

1.5 percent fats. They contain calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron, potassium and  phosphorus. They are excellent sources of B complex vitamins particularly, thiamine, folic acid and pantothenic acid. Like cereals, they do not contain any vitamin A or vitamin C, but germinated pulses contain vitamin C.



Whole pulses are soaked overnight, water should be drained away and the seeds should be tied in a loosely woven cloth and hung. Water should be sprinkled twice or thrice in a day. In a day or two, germination takes place.


Advantages of germination

·         Nutritive value is improved during sprouting. During sprouting, minerals like calcium, zinc and iron are released from bound form. Vitamin C is synthesised during germination.

·         Sprouting decreases cooking time.

·         Thickening power of starch is reduced due to conversion of starch to sugars.

·         Germination improves taste and texture.

·         Germinated pulses add variety to the diet.


Toxic constituents in pulses

Some pulses contain chemical constituents that have toxic properties.


1.      Trypsin inhibitors: They are present in red gram, Bengal gram, cowpea, double bean, soyabean and dry peas. Trypsin inhibitors are proteins that inhibit the activity of trypsin in the gut and interfere with digestibility of dietary proteins and reduce their utilisation.

2.      Lathyrogens: Lathyrism is a nervous disease that cripples man. It is known to result from an excessive consumption of the pulse kesari dhal (Lathyrissativus). The symptoms of lathyrism are muscular rigidity, weakness and paralysis of the leg muscle.

3.      Haemagglutinins: These are proteins in nature and they occur widely in leguminous seeds. Haemagglutinins reduce the food intake resulting in poor growth.

4.      Saponins: These are present in soyabeans, Saponoins cause nausea and vomiting. These toxins can be eliminated by soaking prior to cooking

5.      Goitrogens: These substances interfere with iodine uptake by thyroid gland. They are present in soyabean and groundnuts. Excessive intake of these foods may lead to precipitation of goitre.

6.      Tannins: They have high amount of seed coat in most legumes. Tannins bind with iron irreversibly and interfere with iron absorption. Tannins also bind proteins and reduce their availability.

These toxic constituents can be removed during processing and cooking.


Forms of pulses

Pulses are used in different forms such as:

·         Whole legumes

·         Decuticled split legumes with and without skin

·         Germinated or fermented pulses

·         Flour of pulses and

·         Parched pulses like Bengal gram and peas.



Soyabean with its high protein contents is considered as a substitute for meat protein which is expensive. Soyabean has 42 grams of protein per 100 grams of the product.

Soyabean can be processed to obtain the following products:

1.      Soya flour: Soya flour is used in combination with wheat flour in preparation of chapathis. It can also be incorporated in the batter used in the preparation of bajji, vadai and pakoda.

2.      Soya milk: The milk is prepared by grinding soaked beans with water. It is then passed through a mill in a stream of water. The emulsion that is obtained is filtered and transferred to a boiler and mixed with vitaminised margarine to which sugar, salt, calcium and malt are added. The mixture is cooked for 20 minutes, emulsified and then dried.

3.      Tofu: It can be used like paneer in various preparations.

4.      Textured vegetable protein (TVP): It is prepared using defatted soya flour from which most of the oil and carbohydrates are removed. It is quick to cook with a protein content compared to certain meats.

5.      Soya protein isolates: Soya protein isolates are protein granules, isolated by processing. It is fortified with vitamins and minerals and used as a complementary food.

6.      Soya Grits: Soya grits are made from lightly toasted soya beans that have been ground into coarse pieces. The toasting brings out their pleasant, nutty flavor.


Role of pulses in cookery

1. Pulses are rich in protein and vitamins B and improve the quality of cereal proteins.

2. Pulses give satiety due to high protein and fibre content.

3. Pulses improve flavor and consistencyof dhal sambhar and rasam.

4. They contribute to fermentation in Idli and Dosai batter.

5. They are used in snacks like sundal, bajji, etc.

6. They are used in salads, eg. sprouted gram.

7. They are used in desserts like dhal payasam and sweets like mysorepak and ladoos.

8. They are used as thickening agents, eg. Bengal gram flour in gravies.

9. Roasted pulses are used in chutneys and chutney powders.

10. They are used as seasonings and curries.


Health benefits of pulses

Good for Your Heart: Pulses are high in fiber and potassium which is useful in lowering blood pressure and reducing the risk of heart diseases.

Lower Risk of Diabetes: Pulses are a low-glycemic index food. Including pulses in the diet can make it easier to manage the blood sugar.

High in Protein: Pulses also make a healthy and inexpensive source of protein.

Good Source of Folate: Pulses also are a good source of folic acid, a B vitamin needed to produce and maintain new cells.

Pulses can help maintain and lose weight: The fibre in pulses increase the satiety value and helps in reducing and maintaining weight.


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11th Nutrition and Dietetics : Chapter 2 : Cereals and Pulses : Pulses | Nutritive value, Toxic constituents in pulses, Germination, Forms, Role, Health benefits of pulses

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