Grains, Rice, and Pulses
For a balanced, healthy, and complete diet, it is necessary to incorporate grains, rice, and pulses into your diet. Grains, rice, and pushes provide a wide range of nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals, protein, fibre, and several healthy plant compounds.
Grain foods are the seeds of cereal plants such as wheat, rice, corn(maize), rye, oats, barley, etc.
Pulses, often also called legumes, are the seeds of leguminous plants. Pulses include lentils, kidney beans, mung beans, soybeans, chickpeas, navy beans, and split peas.
Foods made from grains and pulses can be bought from stores and consumed. Common foods made from grains include bread, breakfast cereals, pasta, noodles, etc. Foods made from pulses include dal, tofu, lentil soup, hummus, etc.
Nutritionists and doctors recommend a diet that incorporates foods made with grains, especially whole-grain foods, and pulses. Including grains and pulse-based foods in the diet, such as bread, rice, and breakfast cereal, help lay the foundation for healthy eating. Consumption of foods made from grains and pulses promotes good health.
Nutritionists and doctors place a high premium on foods made with grains and pulses because they are high in energy, contain no cholesterol, and are low in fat. These foods are a rich source of energy-rich carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, dietary fibre, and minerals.
In addition, grains and pulses help guard against ailments such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, obesity, etc., especially when they form a part of a composite diet that includes fruits and vegetables. These health benefits come from the dietary fibres, antioxidants, and phytoestrogens in whole grains and pulses.
Once wrongly thought to be bad for those watching their weight, foods such as bread and breakfast cereals, which are carbohydrate-rich, are considered healthy foods. They are a good base for consuming nutritious, low-fat meals and snacks. Research has shown that a diet high in carbs and low in fat is very effective in promoting weight loss and maintaining weight loss.
Benefits of Grains, Rice, and Pulses
Foods made from grains and pulses are ideal for people conscious of their health. Grains and pulses provide carbohydrates, proteins, fibre, vitamins, and minerals. These foods should be an integral part of any health-conscious individual’s diet plan.
Scientific research shows that grains and pulses contain ingredients that aid disease prevention. Grains and pulses help protect against cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and weight gain.
The health benefits of grains and pulses come from:
- Dietary fibre - Grains and pulses are rich in fibre. A diet rich in fibre helps reduce the incidence of bowel cancer, haemorrhoids, diverticulitis, diabetes, and obesity.
- Vitamins and minerals - Grains and pulses contain vitamin E, folate, selenium, copper, zinc, iron, and manganese, all of which have antioxidant properties. Antioxidants protect the body by neutralising the ill effects of free radicals produced from naturally occurring metabolic processes. The neutralising action of the antioxidants guards against cancer and heart disease. Folate helps mitigate the risk of the foetus developing congenital disabilities such as spina bifida.
- Phytochemicals - Many health benefits are usually thought to come from fibre, but they actually come from the phytochemicals present in grains and pulses. These phytochemicals include phytoestrogens, phytosterols, and phytic acid.
The cereal grains (lignins), flaxseed, and soybeans (isoflavones) are particularly rich in phytoestrogens. These are known to protect against breast cancer and heart disease and relieve postmenopausal symptoms.
The phytosterols in cereal oils, such as rice bran, corn, and wheat germ, help reduce serum cholesterol.
Phytic acid present in cereal brans protects against certain cancers.
The bran, which forms the outer layer of the grains, houses most ingredients that provide protective health benefits. Therefore, it is often recommended to consume a minimum of 1-2 servings of products made from whole grain daily for maximum health benefits.
The Goodness of Fibre
Dietary fibre, often called roughage, is abundant in grains and pulses. The dietary fibre present only in plant-based foods passes through the stomach and the small intestine, undigested. The fibre in grains and pulses includes soluble, insoluble and resistant starch. Together, they contribute to a healthy diet.
Soluble fibre, as the name suggests, dissolves in water. It then forms a thick gel. This gel slows down nutrient release, including the release of sugar, with beneficial effects for people with diabetes. Additionally, the bacteria present in the intestine ferment soluble fibre. This creates the right conditions for a healthy bowel and prevents bowel cancer. Besides, soluble fibre also lowers cholesterol levels in the blood, reducing the risk of developing heart disease. Grains and pulses high in soluble fibre include oats, barley, psyllium, bread, baked beans, lentils, chickpeas, etc.
The intake of insoluble fibre supports normal bowel function. Insoluble fibre functions like a sponge - it soaks up water and becomes bulky. This helps move the contents of the gut smoothly and quickly through the bowel. This prevents constipation and associated health conditions such as diverticulitis and haemorrhoids. Additionally, insoluble fibre is known to reduce the risk of colon cancer. Soluble and insoluble fibre, when consumed together, provides higher protection, with the insoluble fibre helping greater amounts of soluble fibre reach the colon. Grains and pulses rich in insoluble fibre include wheat and wheat products like wholemeal and mixed grain bread, high fibre breakfast cereals, wholemeal flour, rice bran, dried peas and beans, green beans, and peas.
Resistant starch is the starch that reaches the bowel undigested. This promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria in the bowel. These bacteria keep the bowel healthy, reduce cancer risk, and help control diabetes. Grains and pulses containing resistant starch include - partly milled grains and seeds, porridge oats, lentils (cooked & cooled), bread, cooked and cooled potato, etc.
Including a variety of grains and pulses and plant and grain-based foods and fruits and vegetables provides the 30 grams per day of recommended dietary fibre required for healthy adults. Whole-grain foods, such as wholemeal, bread made with whole grain and mixed-grain, wholemeal pasta, high-fibre breakfast cereals, and brown rice, are rich sources of dietary fibre. When refined or processed, grains lose many nutritional and health-promoting components. Nutritionists and doctors, therefore, recommend the consumption of whole-grain foods daily. The health benefits of whole-grain foods come from the fact that they contain all the components of grain - the bran, which is the outer layer; the endosperm, which is the starchy middle layer; and the germ, the inner layer.
The nutritional benefits of grains and pulses can be enhanced by combining them in the dirt. Options from around the globe for combining grains and pulses include kidney beans and tortillas (Mexico), dal (lentils) and rice (India), baked beans on toast (USA/UK), stir-fried tofu and rice (China), and lentils and couscous (the Middle East).
The Misplaced Perceptions around Carbohydrates
There exists a widespread but misplaced perception that since grains and pulses are rich in carbohydrates, they are fattening. This wrong perception causes people to consume less than the recommended amounts of grains and pulses. However, the fact is that consuming foods that are high in carbohydrates and low in fat is the best route for weight loss and maintaining weight loss. Consuming low-fat, carbohydrate-rich food lowers the incidence of cancers, diabetes, and heart disease compared to a diet rich in fat, especially saturated fat, and low in carbohydrates.
Carbohydrates are broken down to glucose and used as energy for exercise and bodily functions. They are not converted to body fat. On the other hand, the fat in the diet is converted to body fat since fat is not the preferred energy source for the body.
There is an abundance of reasons to increase the consumption of grains, rice, pulses, and foods made from these. They are nutritious, low-fat, and health-promoting. A wide variety of the best quality grains, rice, and pulses can be found at Amala Earth. The range of grains, rice, and pulses available at Amala Earth cater to every dietary need and come in organic, gluten-free, diabetes-friendly variants and flour.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- What are the commonly eaten grains and pulses?
The most commonly consumed grains are wheat, rice, corn(maize), oats, barley, and rye. The most widely eaten pulses include navy beans, chickpeas, lentils, kidney beans, mung beans, and split peas. In addition to the whole grains and pulses, foods made from these are also widely consumed.
- What is rice - a grain or a pulse?
Rice are tiny edible seeds that are the fruits of grass plants. Rice is essentially a grain crop. Other grains are wheat, oats, corn(maize), barley, rye, etc.
- Which rice is the best for health?
Whole-grain brown, black, red, or wild rice is the best for health. These varieties contain higher amounts of antioxidants, which fight free radicals and are highly beneficial for health.