What is Black Gram?
A popular ingredient in Indian cuisine, black gram also known as urad bean, mungo bean or urad bean has its origins in India. Known scientifically as Vigna mungo, black gram has been cultivated on the Indian subcontinent since ancient times. Today, the pulse is a highly valued ingredient in India and parts of Pakistan. It is used especially widely in Punjabi cuisine where it is known locally as maai di daal.
As well as being grown extensively on the Indian subcontinent, black gram is now cultivated in other tropical regions including parts of Africa, Mauritius, Fiji and the Caribbean.
You may be unfamiliar with black gram but if you have ever eaten dal in an Indian restaurant there is a chance that you have already tasted it. In Northern parts of India, traditional dal dishes are made from the split or whole seeds.
Black gram is an excellent source of nutrition. It contains a very level of protein with a 100 gram serving providing 25 grams of good quality protein while it is also an excellent source of dietary fiber. Black gram also contains a number of essential minerals including potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium and zinc.
Black gram is also a great source of many of the B family of vitamins. It contains thiamine, riboflavin, niacin and folate which all play a variety of roles in human health and development. Because of this wide array of important nutrients and its high protein content, black gram has played an important role in the diets of people in India, Pakistan and Nepal for many years.
Health Benefits of Black Gram
Black gram has been a staple in India and other parts of the subcontinent for many years and for good reason. Not only do these beans taste great bit they come with a range of nutrients that can positively impact your health in a number of impressive ways. These are just some of the amazing health effects of eating black gram.
1) To Improve your Digestive Health
I am sure that every one of you reading this article has suffered from some sort of digestive complaint at one point or another. Conditions like indigestion, bloating and constipation are incredibly common but they are easy enough to overcome by eating the right stuff.
Fiber is especially important when it comes to digestive health. We all know how good it is for us after all we gave been told to eat it often enough. Unfortunately, many of us do not follow that advice and the majority of the population does not get as much fiber in their diets as they actually need.
Fiber helps improve the digestive system in a number of important ways. It adds bulk to a person’s stools which helps the passage of waste through the intestinal tract. If you suffer from regular bouts of constipation, then chances are that increasing your fiber intake will make a positive difference. Fiber also helps protect against and ease a number of other common digestive issues like bloating, indigestion and cramps.
There is also evidence that people who eat more fiber are less at risk of serious illnesses including colon cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
2) For a Healthy Heart
Eating black gram and other fiber rich foods is also a great way to ensure your heart stays fit and string and free of disease.
Evidence shows high fiber food like black gram can reduce a person’s blood cholesterol levels. High cholesterol is one of the risk factors in heart attack, disease like atherosclerosis and stroke.
As well as reducing cholesterol, black gram contains several nutrients that can benefit the heart. Potassium is known to help reduce blood pressure because it acts as a vasodilator which helps ease the passage of blood through the blood vessels putting less strain on the heart.
Black gram also contains folate which has been linked to a reduced incidence of heart disease. It also contains a good supply of iron and magnesium which help improve the circulation of blood around the body with positive cardiovascular benefits.
3) For Blood Sugar Control and Diabetes
Black gram is one of those high fiber beans and lentils that are great for keeping blood sugar levels in check, this can reduce the risk of a person becoming diabetic and help diabetic patients keep their symptoms in check.
One of the roles of fiber in the human body is to regulate the way in which nutrients are absorbed which helps to balance the amount of glucose and other sugars in your blood. A high fiber meal such as one prepared with black gram can help prevent the harmful spikes in blood glucose commonly experienced by people with diabetes.
4) To Relieve Pain and Inflammation
Black gram has long been used in Ayurvedic medicine – the traditional medicine of India – for its ability to ease inflammation and relieve pain.
The wide array of nutrients found in black gram may help to ease internal inflammation while it may also help reduce oxidative stress in our bodies. Not only does black gram help with internal inflammatory conditions but an extract made with black gram is sometimes applied topically to deal with painful joints and muscles.
5) For Healthy Bones
Many of the minerals found in black gram, especially calcium, are great for your bones. Calcium is an extremely important mineral as we are growing and developing which is why young children the world over are given milk from during their childhood years. Not only is calcium important in developing bodies but it remains essential as we get older.
In our later years, we lose our bone mineral density resulting in our bones becoming weaker and more prone to injury. Getting plenty of calcium as well as some of the other minerals found in black gram like potassium and magnesium can help keep our bones strong and reduce the risk of common conditions like osteoporosis.
6) To Boost your Energy
The high levels of protein and the significant amount of iron found in these beans make them a great way to increase your energy levels and reduce fatigue. Iron is a very important mineral when it comes to vitality.
A deficiency in iron is known to have a number of nasty side effects including mental and physical fatigue and tiredness. It can also help ward off even more serious issues like anemia which comes with symptoms like muscle weakness, chronic fatigue and cognitive impairment.
7) For the Skin
Powdered black gram is often used especially in India to help keep your skin looking fresh and feeling supple. It has excellent nourishing properties that can help rejuvenate tired and sallow looking skin.
It is also used for a range of other skin problems including sun damage, age spots, wrinkles, acne. It is also used to exfoliate the skin and even combined with lemon juice to make a natural bleach that can lighten the skin.
How to Use Black Gram
If you have never cooked with black gram before, I should tell you that it can be used in any number of different ways.
You can use these pulses in much the same way that you would use other types of bean or pulse like lentils.
There are any number of excellent recipes online covering traditional Punjabi black gram recipes to variations of black gram soups and even black gram snacks and deserts to enjoy.