Food & Nutrition Superfoods

The unexplored health benefits of horse gram

We are savvy with varieties of pulses like rajma, black gram, toor dal, and masoor dal, but how many of us are cued up to this low-profile lentil that has a powerful kick of nutrition?

Horse gram, called Macrotyloma uniflorum in the legume plant world has been around for eons (2000 BC).  This reddish-brown pulse is also known as kulthi, Kollu, hurali, or Madras gram and has a large list of native names. The gram originated from the tropics of Southern Asia and is grown in Asia, India, Nepal Sri Lanka, Africa and Malaysia.  It is a perennial, climbing plant that bears these tiny curved seeds. It is drought-resistant too.

The world is now waking up to this pulse and calling it the hot new pulse of the future. According to the US National Academy of Sciences, horse gram is the promising food source of the future.

It has a unique aroma, texture and taste and is known for its rich and impressive nutrition profile.

Why the name?

Horse gram is the most potent and protein-rich lentil. It is a staple diet for horses and cattle.  Race horses are fed with this pulse hence it is called horse gram. As it is horse and cattle food it is therefore considered a poor man’s food which is consumed by the farming community and those living in rural areas.

Nutrition profile

This lentil is consumed whole, sprouted, and sometimes even ground. In many parts of India, it is known as a superfood as many consume kulith to gain nutrients that are not normally found in a vegetarian diet. In fact, it is a go-to meal on some fasting days. This lentil is rich in various nutrients and micro-nutrients which are beneficial for our health. Its therapeutic uses find mention in the Ayurveda text.

For 100 grams the nutrition values are:

Protein – 24 gm

Carbohydrates – 56 gm

Minerals – 3 gm

Calcium – 288 mg

Phosphorus – 312 mg

Iron – 8 mg

Fibres – 5 gm

Antioxidants: Flavonoids and polyphenols

Horse gram contains diuretic properties. These properties help to keep the body warm during winter and prevent other health issues.

Health benefits

It is insulin resistant as this gram reduces high blood sugar after a meal by slowing down carbohydrate digestion and reducing insulin resistance. This makes it a diabetic-friendly food.

It helps to lower cholesterol levels and eliminates bad cholesterol. This reduces the risk of blockages. It also helps in weight loss.

This lentil helps in treating menstrual disorders. Kulith can maintain the levels of haemoglobin in the body as it is rich in iron. This helps those suffering from anaemia. It also helps to reduce leucorrhoea.

It could reduce urinary discharges and helps overcome pain, inflammation or infection in the urinary tract.

Packed with antioxidants horse gram is rich in polyphenols, flavonoids and proteins.

Protects your liver as horse gram contains organic compounds that protect the liver. These compounds also help ensure the proper functioning of the gallbladder.

Detox: Horse grams are an important food item that can help you detox.

This amazing lentil contains a good amount of iron, calcium, phosphorous, and other amino acids. These are essential nutrients that amp up the blood supply to the male reproductive organs thus improving sperm count.

It could break down kidney stones as this lentil has a significant amount of antioxidants.

When applied topically horse gram can give you a clear complexion as it has antibacterial, antimicrobial, and antioxidant properties.

Though this power lentil has multiple benefits some of us need to take precautions:

If you suffer from hyperacidity avoid consuming horse grams.

Horse gram could, in some cases, result in bloating as it is rich in carbohydrates.

Those suffering from gout should avoid having horse gram.

Sprout it

For some, horse grams could be difficult to digest. Turning the grams into sprouts makes it easier to consume and digest.

In many coastal families, kulith-saar (gravy made with kulith) is a speciality. Enjoyed with rice,
this delicacy is tasty as well as very healthy.

Ensure that you chew the horse gram sprouts well before swallowing. It will help in digestion and bowel movements.


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