Blog by : Chandni Gajra, Nutritionist

Chandni Gajra shares some important facts and healthy tips about various organic and non organic food grains, pulses and oil seeds.

WHAT ARE PULSES?
Pulses are edible dry peas, beans, lentils and chickpeas. They fall under the legume family, but the word “pulse” specifically refers to legumes that are grown and harvested for their dry seed and grown as food.

SOME EXAMPLES OF PULSES:
You probably already eat more pulses than you realize! Popular pulses include all varieties of dried beans, such as kidney beans, lima beans, butter beans and broad beans. Chick peas, cowpeas, black-eyed peas and pigeon peas are also pulses, as are all varieties of lentils.
Staple dishes and cuisines from across the world feature pulses, from hummus in the Mediterranean (chick peas), to a traditional full English breakfast (baked navy beans) to Indian dal (peas or lentils).

WHY EAT PULSES?
Among all the plant foods, pulses are particularly nutrient-dense. They are rich in protein, a very good source of fiber (and more and more research shows how much fiber plays a positive role in gut health), and they’re particularly rich in folate.
A cup of chickpeas, for example, boasts more than ten times the amount of folate than a cup of cooked kale and about as much folate as a serving of liver. This is good news for women looking to conceive or who are pregnant as folate is a nutrient critical to the prevention of neural tube defects in babies, and it’s better to get it from food than from supplements. Pulses are a great source of protein
This means they can be particularly important for people who do not get protein by eating meat, fish or dairy products.

RED LENTILS

Masoor Dal have a high protein content which is good for a healthy living. Masoor dal aids in keeping the excretory system clean and is good for people suffering diseases due to impure blood.

KABULI CHANA

  • Kabuli Chana or Garbanzo Beans are close relative of the Bengal Gram. Chickpeas are large seeds, light in colour and have a smoother coat. It is considered to be a good source of protein and is also called by the name of Garbanzo beans.
  • Chickpeas are healthy as they contain many nutritional elements that are deemed necessary for the proper growth of our body. It contain many vital vitamins & minerals. As chickpea are rich in dietary fibers, both soluble and insoluble, they help a lot in reducing the level of cholesterol and also in preventing the blood sugar level from rising too much immediately after having a meal. Chickpeas are low on calories and virtually fat free.

TUR DAL

  • In India Split Pigeon Pea is also known as Toor Dal or Arhar Dal. Split Pigeon Pea or Toor or Arhar Dal is a commonly cooked yellow colored legume. In India, split pigeon peas or toor dal is one of the most popular pulses, being an important source of protein in a mostly vegetarian diet.
  • Pigeon Pea cures cough, poisoning effect, gas troubles, acidity, stomach pain and piles. Toor Dal is useful in the treatment of internal organ swelling.

RED KIDNEY BEANS

  • The Red Kidney Bean is popularly known as Rajma in India. Rajma is considered an everyday north Indian meal savored on a tired or a lazy Sunday afternoon. Being a major source of protein, kidney beans provide all the eight essential amino acids.
  • Certain natural antioxidants present in these beans also have a number of beneficial health effects. The dietary fiber in these beans also helps lower the blood cholesterol levels in the body.

URAD DAL

  • Urad also know commonly as Black Gram originated in India where it has been in cultivation from ancient times. Black gram is known to have soothing and cooling properties. It is an aphrodisiac and nervine tonic. Consumption of urad dal is good for diabetic patients.

WHAT ARE CEREALS?
A cereal is any grass cultivated for the edible components of its grain (botanically, a type of fruit called a caryopsis), composed of the endosperm, germ, and bran. Cereal grains are grown in greater quantities and provide more food energy worldwide than any other type of crop and are therefore staple crops.

SOME EXAMPLES OF CEREALS
In some developing nations, grain in the form of rice, wheat, millet, or maize constitutes a majority of daily sustenance. In developed nations, cereal consumption is moderate and varied but still substantial. Some other examples include rye, oats, barley,etc.
Edible grains from other plant families, such as buckwheat (Polygonaceae), quinoa (Amaranthaceae) and chia (Lamiaceae), are referred to as pseudocereals.

WHY EAT CEREALS?
In their natural form (as in whole grain), cereals are a rich source of vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, fats, oils, and protein. When refined by the removal of the bran and germ, the remaining endosperm is mostly carbohydrate.

Source of Energy:
Cereals are probably the greatest source of energy for humans. Providing almost 30% of total calories in a regular diet, cereals are probably the most widely consumed caloric food in America. This percentage rises in places like rural Africa, Asia and India where cereals are reported to supply almost 70 to 80% of energy requirements (since people in these regions cannot afford to eat other food products like fruits, vegetables, meat, or milk products. Cereals are inexpensive and a widely available source of energy; this is probably the prime reason why people from all budgets prefer cereals as the major energy provider in their diet. Cereal intake tends to be quite high amongst poor income families as they attain a good amount of energy through minimal expenditure.

High Mineral Content:
In cereals, around 95% of minerals are the sulphates and phosphates of magnesium, potassium and calcium. A good amount of phosphorous in cereals is present, called phytin. The phytates present in the cereals considerably reduce the activity of iron absorption. The unrefined cereals have more phytates as compared to refined cereals. After the cereals germinate, phytates diminish due to the breakdown of enzymes, and then the iron content is enhanced. This is the reason why malted flours of cereals are said to have more nutritional value than raw flour. Zinc, copper and manganese are also present in cereals in very small quantities. Cereals hardly have and calcium and iron, but ragi is an exception to this. Amongst cereals, rice is the poorest source of iron and calcium. Ragi, millets, jowar and bajra have high amounts of minerals and fiber.

Prevents Cancer:
Whole wheat products reduce the chances of breast cancer. Cereals are rich in phytosterols or plant based steroids and plant estrogen that stimulate the hormone estrogen. Phytosterols bind to estrogen receptors present in the tissues of the breast and blocks human oestrogen that promotes the growth of breast cancer. Many studies have shown that colon cancers can be avoided by consuming whole wheat products or any fiber-rich cereals. Phytosterols increase the stool movement through the intestines, thereby constricting the re-absorption time of the estrogen into the blood through the colon wall.

Prevents Constipation and Colon Disorders:
Cereals have both insoluble and soluble fibers like cellulose, pectin and hemicellulose. These fibers are present in the bran and pericarp, which often gets demolished while processing, thus it is advisable to consume whole cereals to cure extreme constipation troubles. Cereals also effectively improve peristalsis in the intestine and increase the bulk of the stools, thus keeping your internal system clean. Ragi is high in cellulose and has excellent laxative properties that relieve constipation. Brown rice is also helpful for treating this disorder.

Maintains Blood Sugar Level:
The fiber content in cereals decreases the speed of glucose secretion from food, thereby maintaining sugar levels in the blood.
Provides Protein:
Proteins are present in every tissue of the cereal grain. The cereal proteins are of different types; like albumins, prolamines, gliadins, globulins and glutelins. These types of proteins are called “gluten” proteins. This gluten has extraordinary elasticity and mobile properties, mainly present in wheat grain, but also in some other types of cereal. Cereals usually have 6-12% protein but lack in lysine. The protein content varies in each type of cereal. For instance, rice contains less protein in comparison to other cereals. In fact, the protein percentage even varieties with different varieties of the same cereal. Although less in amount, the quality of rice protein is better than the protein of other cereals. When you consume cereals with pulses, the protein quality automatically improves, owing to the mutual supplementation. Pulses have high lysine content and are deficient in methionine; on the other hand cereals have an abundance of methionine.
Source of Vitamins:
If you are suffering from a deficiency in the Vitamin B complex, add whole grain cereals to your diet. Most of the vitamins of cereals are present in the outer bran, but the refining process usually reduces the vitamin B content, and thus it is advisable to consume whole grain cereals. Cereals are usually devoid of either vitamin A or vitamin C; only maize has small amounts of carotene. The cereal grains are processed to extract oils that are rich in vitamin E. Rice bran oil has more concentrated amounts of vitamin E than other oils available on the market.

RICE

Rice is the seed of the grass species Oryza sativa (Asian rice) or Oryza glaberrima (African rice). As a cereal grain, it is the most widely consumed staple food for a large part of the world's human population, especially in Asia.
White rice provides carbohydrates for energy and helps to promote muscle growth thanks to its amino acids. It can aid in gastrointestinal health due to its low fiber content and may be used to relieve diarrhea and morning sickness.
Brown rice The fiber content of brown rice keeps bowel function at it’s peak since it makes digestion that much easier. Hence, it helps in promoting weight loss. Naturally occurring oils in brown rice are beneficial for the body as these healthful fats help normalize cholesterol levels. Manganese in it also benefits our nervous and reproductive systems. It is rich in selenium which reduces the risk for developing common illnesses such as cancer, heart disease and arthritis.
Black rice is healthier as it is rich in insoluble fiber that aids bowel movement and increases the satiety value of food. It is also an excellent source of protein, several vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin E, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese and iron. Importantly, it contains antioxidant and anti-inflammatory anthocyanins that reduce the risk of many degenerative diseases, such as heart diseases, cancer and diabetes. Additionally, black rice has a low glycemic content, which makes it a great option for diabetics and heart and high-blood-pressure patients. It is also a good source of other phytochemicals that are good for the kidney, liver and stomach.
Its colour changes to dramatic purple when cooked, so it is also known as “Purple rice.”It is sometimes known as spiritual rice among the Buddhists, as it was served to Gautama Buddha while he meditated. In ancient China, black rice was considered the finest grain and only served to the emperor. So, it is also called as “forbidden rice” as it was restricted to use by general people.
Black rice takes quiet a bit longer to cook than white rice, about 60minutes, though you can cut the cooking time down substantially if you soak it ahead of time. There are several varieties of black rice, including long jasmine, glutinous thai and short grain venere. The long grain rice, which is the true forbidden rice, is better for salads,the glutionous one is used for sushi and rice pudding.

SOYABEANS

Soybean is the richest plant source of protein. the level of sulfur amino acids in soybeans is higher than in other beans, and therefore soy protein is equivalent to animal protein in quality. most of the fat in soybeans is unsaturated and beneficial. The polyunsaturated fat content of soybean includes linolenic acid or omega-3 fatty acid. The presence of omega–3 fats makes it special as soybeans are one of the very few plant sources of this essential fatty acid. Omega-3 fatty acids form an essential nutrient which help reduce the risk of both heart disease and cancer. Soy is rich in iron too. Soy foods are a good source of calcium in comparison to the commonly used legumes. Like other whole grains, soyfoods are rich in B-vitamins, particularly niacin, pyridoxine and folacin. Soy milk is well fortified with vitamin B12 which makes it a prominent source of this essential nutrient.

CORN / MAIZE

Maize has become a staple food in many parts of the world, with total production surpassing that of wheat or rice.
In addition to its delicious sweet taste, corn is high in fiber, low in fat and a great source of essential nutrients offering array of health benefits.

WHEAT

It helps to control obesity, especially in women, improves body metabolism, prevents type 2 diabetes, reduces chronic inflammation, prevents gallstones, improves cardiovascular system in postmenopausal women,etc.

WHAT ARE OILSEEDS?
Oilseeds are any of a number of seeds from cultivated crops yielding oil

SOME EXAMPLES OF OILSEEDS:
These include flaxseeds, rape seeds, sesame seeds, groundnut, canola, mustard seeds, etc.
WHY EAT OILSEEDS?
The protein quantity and quality , caloric value and overall nutrient content of oilseeds are quite good.
Oilseeds are high in phytic acid and contain fiber, and perhaps other binding agents which reduce mineral bio-availability from the seeds.

SESAME SEEDS

The seeds are especially rich in mono-unsaturated fatty acid, oleic acid, which comprises of up to 50% of fatty acids in them. Oleic acid helps lower LDL or "bad cholesterol" and increases HDL or "good cholesterol" in the blood. Research studies suggest that Mediterranean diet which is rich in mono-unsaturated fats may help prevent coronary artery disease, and stroke by favoring healthy serum lipid profile.
The seeds are also valuable sources of dietary protein with fine quality amino acids that are essential for growth, especially in children. Just 100 g of seeds provide about 18 g of protein (32% of daily recommended values).
Sesame is among the seeds rich in quality vitamins, and minerals. They are an excellent sources of B-complex vitamins such as niacin, folic acid, thiamin (vitamin B1), pyridoxine (vitamin B6), and riboflavin.
100 g of sesame contains 97 µg of folic acid, about 25% of recommended daily intake. Folic acid is essential for DNA synthesis. When given to expectant mothers during their peri-conception period, it may prevent neural tube defects in the newborns.
Niacin is another B-complex vitamin found abundantly in sesame. About 4.5 mg or 28% of daily required levels of niacin provided from just 100 grams of seeds. Niacin helps reduce LDL-cholesterol concentrations in the blood. Also, it enhances GABA activity inside the brain, which in turn helps reduce anxiety and neurosis.
The seeds are incredibly rich sources of many essential minerals. Calcium, iron, manganese, zinc, magnesium, selenium and copper especially concentrated in sesame seeds. Many of these minerals have a vital role in bone mineralization, red blood cell production, enzyme synthesis, hormone production, as well as regulation of cardiac and skeletal muscle activities.