Dal or lentils – packing a healthy punch

Dal or lentils – packing a healthy punch

By Neha Ranglani  on: 12 December 2014
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Dal or lentil is a staple food of India and most Indian vegans and vegetarians get their protein from it. We are blessed with a variety of dals and pulses which add a distinct taste to our diets. While they form an essential part of our meals, each one of them have their distinct health benefits. Nutritionist Neha Chandna tells us the various benefits of popular dals consumed in India.

Dal basics

All dals have 70% carbohydrates and 30% proteins. But these proteins are not complete proteins as found in non-vegetarian foods. When combined with roti/ rice, the dals become complete protein sources which is excellent for vegetarians to meet their protein needs and maintain muscle health.

30g of raw dal gives 7g of protein. Dals also have resistant starch which acts like fibre in the body and helps control blood sugar levels, clears bowels, aids in weight loss, etc.

Health benefits of Dals

Toor Dal: A very popular and preferred dal in India, toor dal is light and yummy. Apart from protein and fibre, it contains folic acid which helps prevent anaemia and is also important for pregnant women as it is essential for foetal development and can help prevent neural tube birth defects such as spina bifida. It is low in calories so is good for people who are on weight loss diets. It also helps control blood sugar levels.

Moong Dal: When you think of dal rice, the first thing that comes to your mind is moong dal which is commonly known as yellow dal. It is used for making the legendary dal tadka and dal fry. It is eaten on a regular basis in every indian household in combination with rice and vegetables. Moong dal is a dieter-friendly dal rich in iron and potassium. Iron helps maintain haemoglobin levels and potassium helps reduce blood pressure, a boon for hypertensive people. It is extremely light and can be easily eaten when you fall ill and even by pregnant women. Moong dal is used for making soups, stews and purees. Boiled moong dal is also used for making delicious spicy parathas. 

Chana Dal: A variety of dal which is deliciously thick. Chana dal is rich in B-vitamins which help energise you. It is full of fibre which helps diabetics to control their blood sugar levels. It also has potassium and folic acid. The fibre in it helps lower cholesterol levels preventing heart problems. 

Masoor Dal: Just like the other dals, masoor dal helps reduce blood sugar levels especially controlling the blood sugar spikes after a meal, controls hypertension, prevents anaemia and lowers cholesterol. It can be cooked with vegetables, spinach, pulao or added in your chicken or vegetable soup.

Urad Dal: It is most commonly used by south Indians to make dosa, idlis, etc along with rice making it a complete source of protein. Urad dal is rich in iron, folate, fibre, potassium. It is also a good source of calcium which is important for vegetarians and elderly people who require high amounts of calcium for maintaining bone health. It also boosts your energy and keeps you active. 

In order to gain maximum benefits of these dals, have 2 servings of dals/pulses per day. You can also add dals to your soups, rotis, tikkis, salads, etc. Alternate between the various types to get essential nutrients from all of them.

Neha Chandna is a well-known dietician and nutritionist. She is also a certified Reebok Aerobics instructor and was a university topper in Dietetics from SVT. In the last three years, she has worked as a nutritionist for gyms and various fitness trainers and is also a consultant for doctors and physiotherapists. She deals helps various people with their nutrition needs – sportsmen, obese people, diabetics, etc. She also helps those suffering from diseases like thyroid, osteoporosis, PCOS, etc. She also holds workshops and seminars for corporates like HDFC, Standard Chartered Bank and other organisations including BPOs and MNCs. She also writes for magazines like New Woman, Beauty and Salon, etc.

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My kid does not like drinking plain milk. How can I make him drink it? What can I add which is good for health. I am not sure if flavoured syrups are good. Is there any other option apart from the health drinks available in the market? Answered by Nutritionist Neha Chandna. Making kids drink milk is indeed a task when they do not like the taste of it. But the good thing is milk can be consumed in various other forms like other dairy products. In order to ensure your kid gets adequate nutrition, you can give him milk in the form of kheer or seviyyan. You can also make oats porridge or add muesli to milk which will give it a different taste. (Read: Milk in the benefits of doodh) If you want to stay from health drinks, you can buy ready-made badam-pista masala or kesar and dry fruits in the powdered form which can be added to milk to change its taste. Another option is to make milkshakes which are not only tasty but healthy too. Make them using seasonal fruits or even dates which will give your kid nutrition of the fruits as well as the milk. Instead of giving him milk twice or thrice in the day, alternate between yoghurt and milk. Add cut fruits on top or honey to add a sweet flavour to the curd. Don’t force your kid to eat something they don’t like. Instead, think of innovative and healthy ways you can make the food more appealing for them to eat. 
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Best Dietician in Mumbai, India 

Dietitian Neha Chandna (Ranglani) has 8 years of experience in the field. Food and Health is the matter of interest for most of the people today and realizing the need to create awareness and spread the right information to the society, Neha decided to extensively educate herself in the field of nutrition. As a known fact that diet and exercise go hand in hand, She went a step ahead to certify herself as a REEBOK Aerobic instructor. One of the Most Famous & Online Nutritionists Dietitians in Mumbai (Khar west).Neha Chandna, a dietitian in Mumbai, is a university topper in Dietetics from S.V.T. She has worked as a nutritionist for reputed gyms and fitness trainers and as a consultant with doctors and physiotherapists. She deals with sportsmen, individuals who are obese or victims of lifestyle issues- to name a few- diabetes, thyroid, osteoporosis, PCOS etc. and active/exercising sector of society. She educates and conducts seminar/workshops for corporates like banks (HDFC & Standard Chartered Bank), BPOs and MNCs on the Right ways of eating and living. She also takes workshops on Nutrition in Pregnancy and Lactation. Neha Chandna also writes articles for magazines and newspapers like New Woman, Beauty and salon, Hello Mumbai, the afternoon etc. She has also done a couple of interviews for TV9 channel. She is an online consultant for a health social networking website www.ihealthu.com. Dietician Neha Chandna is one of the Best Dietician / nutritionist in Khar west , Mumbai.Neha Chandna is a Famous Nutritionist in Khar west & a famous nutritionist in Mumbai for weight loss diet chart and for other diet plan services. Popular dietcian in Mumbai. Consult her for best online Diet charts in Mumbai. 
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