Pulses & Legumes

Pulses are edible fruits or seeds of pod bearing plants belonging to the family of the leguminous. Some of the major pulses include red gram, Bengal gram, black gram, green gram and masoor dal, rajmah, peas (dry), field beans (dry) and horse gram.

Pulses are used in different forms such as

  1. Whole legumes
  2. Decuticled split legumes (with or without skin)
  3. Germinated or fermented pulses
  4. Flour of pulses and
  5. Parched pulses.

Nutritive value of Pulses

Pulses give 340 calories per 100g. They contain soluble sugars, fibre and oligosaccharides which produce flatulence. Fermentation, germination, cooking, soaking and autoclaving reduce considerable amounts of oligosaccharides.  Pulses are very important source of proteins and contain globulins and albumins, as pulses lack few of the amino acids they supplement well with cereal protein. They contain essential minerals such magnesium, zinc, iron, potassium and phosphorus. They are also an excellent source of B vitamins. They have low GI as legumes are generally rich in protein, provide high fiber and contain enzyme inhibitors.

Nutritional value of pulses is improved with sprouting and fermentation, as it improves digestibility and availability of nutrients.

Health benefits of Pulses

  • Legumes are high in dietary fibre, high in complex, low glycemic carbohydrates, high in bioactive compounds, low in saturated fat and no cholesterol. These dietary components promote health and longevity by decreasing insulin production and preventing chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease and obesity. 
  • The low fat and high dietary fibre nature of legumes attributes to the aid in weight loss.
  • Legumes have low GI and aid in stabilising blood sugar and insulin levels.
  • Due to its low GI, high protein and fiber it also promotes satiety.

Consumption forms of Pulses

In India 80% of pulses are consume in the form dals and besan, remaining 20% is consumed as whole seeds. Fermented pulses are consumed in the preparation of idli and dosa. Sprouted pulses are used as snacks or in salads. They are used as seasoning or flavourings in curries. Snacks and sweets that are made with pulses include sundal, bajji, laddu, etc.



  • Dietary Guidelines for Indian- A Manual; ICMR, National Institute of Nutrition.
  • Srilakshmi, B. (2002). Food Science (Revised. New age international publication).