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Protein is the building block of life. We have all grown up hearing this, haven’t we? But do we eat enough of this essential nutrient? As we move towards carbs and fats that dominate our unhealthy indulgences, protein is slowly being sidelined. If you don’t believe us, then just ask yourself when was the last time you ate dal!
Yes, we know that eggs and chicken are excellent sources of protein–there’s not denying that. But lentils and legumes are also great sources of this essential nutrient–and are healthier than their non-vegetarian counterparts.
In fact, since it has become difficult to source fresh vegetables and meat in the current scenario–pulses can come to your rescue and give you the nutrition that you need.
Pariksha Rao, co-founder and chief nutrition officer at Lil’ Goodness & CoolMeal (a kid’s food and nutrition start-up) says: “Pulses and legumes are a highly nutritious and sustainable food source packed with proteins, fibre, and other micronutrients such as iron and vitamin B.”
“When paired with rice, wheat, or other cereal grains that are high in sulphur-containing amino acids, pulses’ proteins can fulfill the daily essential amino acid requirements without the need for consuming animal proteins,” adds.
Combine pulses with vitamin-rich foods for better immunity
When combined with foods high in vitamin C, pulses’ high iron content makes them a potent food for replenishing iron stores-particularly for women at reproductive age, who are more at risk for iron deficiency anaemia. Older people can also benefit from eating pulse.
However, if you can’t find vitamin-C rich veggies in the market, don’t fret. Just add a little amla powder or a few drops of lemon juice to your bowl of your dal–and you’ll be sorted.
In fact, you should eat dal four times a week
Preety Tyagi, nutritionist and founder of My22BMI (a health and wellness company) says you can use dals, legumes, chickpeas, and beans to their maximum capacity as a source of protein, carbs as well as fibre. Whole dals are more rich in nutrient content and should certainly be consumed at least four days in a week, she suggests.
Tyagi suggests making use of all high-fibre grains in your kitchen pantry. “Remember, whole grains are not only rich in carbs, but are a great source of fibre as well. They have many other vitamins and minerals as well. They are excellent in providing us the much needed energy as well as the nourishment that we need,” she adds.
Sprout your lentils for additional nutrients
Remember, lentils, beans, chickpeas etc. can be sprouted to enhance their nutritional benefits. Sprout your moong dal, beans, and kala chana to cheelas, chaats, and salads.
Additionally, you must soak the beans, chickpeas, and whole lentils in water for a long period of time before cooking so that your digestive system can digest them properly. If you have gut issues, it is advisable to soak rajma and chhole for a period of upto 24 hours, changing water from time to time.
So, now you know how to keep up with your protein intake even when you don’t have much access to your favourite non-vegetarian foods. Just show some faith in pulses and legumes and you won’t be disappointed.
(With inputs from IANS)