Dal: A nutritious Powerhouse!
Considering an alarming increase in lifestyle diseases in India, it is important to have a well-balanced and nutritious diet to promote healthy living. Keeping this in mind and the subsequent increase in health consciousness, people are getting attracted to more and more processed food products in an effort to indulge and maintain a nutritiously balanced diet. However, there exists one such magical ingredient in all our kitchens which can help us do the same. What is it you ask?Well, what most of us tend to neglect is the beauty of our very own staple Indian diet. The staple Indian diet by definition consist of cereals (in the form of bajra or wheat), Dal (also known as lentils), vegetables and rice. Although the staples in the Indian diet vary from region to region, one thing which remains common and is considered to be the star of the show is our very own dals!
The nutritional value of lentils or dals are numerous and in parts of the world where sources of animal protein are scarce and expensive or in countries such as India where majority of people follow a vegetarian diet, dals can be a nutritious boon in disguise.
Dals, also known as lentils, provide a large amount of protein required for both adults and children. As most of us know, protein are indispensable to our health. They help in the repair of body tissue and also help synthesize important enzymes while providing necessary amino acids required for growth especially in children (1). In comparison to cereals, dals contain twice as much protein (1). Hence, when combined in a meal with roti or paratha along with vegetables it can significantly increase the protein intake in a meal.
Apart from being an important source of protein, there are many other important benefits of including dal in our diet, as listed below.
• Dals or lentils prove to be a great source of energy and a valuable source of carbohydrate. Our body requires energy for all metabolic processes and dals provide anywhere between 300-500 kcal of energy per 100gm serving
• The carbohydrate content of dals is relatively high. It contains a significant amount of dietary fiber which is believed to provide important physiological effects such as relieving constipation or indigestion. Research has also shown that regular intake of dal help lower blood cholesterol due to its ability to bind to cholesterol in the human gut
• Dals or lentils also contain important vitamins B complex and minerals making it a complete source of nutrition
So the next time you are worried about not being able to indulge in a nutritious and well balanced diet, don’t! Remember it’s as simple as including two servings in a day of your favorite dal makhani or rajma or sambhar along with roti and vegetables to be one step closer to a healthier you!
1. Ofuya, Z. M., & Akhidue, V. (2005). The role of pulses in human nutrition: a review. Journal of Applied Sciences and Environmental Management, 9(3), 99-104.
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