Desi superfoods Metroplus

The imperial gram

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Since its antioxidants are concentrated in the outer layer, it is a good idea to eat chana with its skin

Legend has it that, when imprisoned by Aurangzeb, Shah Jahan was asked to choose just one food item for the rest of his life; he opted for the versatile chana. This legume could be pounded into flour or besan, split into daal, cooked as a curry or even transformed into kebabs and its leaves could be made into saag. This choice was judicious not only from the culinary perspective, but also from the health benefit angle.

First, let us clarify that chana, known as Bengal gram in English, belongs to the chickpea family, like garbanzo beans ( kabuli chana), but is different from it in certain ways. In Ayurveda, where kabuli chana is considered to blocking channels of the body, kala chana is, on the contrary, viewed as agneya, which means it is not only a metabolism booster, but also helps in removing toxins with the help of its high fibre content. This is, in fact, one of the star qualities of chana, which comes in colours ranging from black to tan. Two-thirds of its fibre content is insoluble, a trait that helps digestion and colon health, as transit through the digestive system is slower. Moreover, since this creates a feeling of satiety, chana helps in weight loss.

Another amazing property of this food is its incredibly low glycemic index (GI): 3/4 cup of cooked gram provides 25 gm of carbohydrates with a GI of only 3, making it ideal for diabetics.

Looking at Bengal gram’s nutrient profile, we see that it is high in protein, dietary fibre and a wide range of minerals and vitamins, which includes the immunity-boosting and energy-producing trace mineral manganese; this is something traditional wisdom knew, as chana sattu was consumed by all those undertaking strenuous work in eastern India. In fact, sattu pani is also a great re-mineralising drink in the scorching heat, as the potassium and magnesium it contains help maintain electrolyte levels. The magnesium and folate chana contains help in strengthening blood vessels and lowering LDL, thus contributing to cardio-vascular health, which is further boosted due to the amazing anti-oxidant profile of Bengal gram. It is recommended to consume 3/4 cup of chana per day for a month if you want to lower LDL as well as triglycerides.

This food is also very gender sensitive, so to speak, given its phytoestrogens, saponins and iron levels. All these nutrients work wonders for women’s health, with iron taking care of pregnant, lactating and menstruating women. Other elements, including the high level of antioxidants, lower breast cancer risk and mood fluctuations in post-menopausal women. Since much of its antioxidants are concentrated in the outer layer, it is a good idea to eat chana with its skin, even when consuming the roasted form.

Considering one cup of Bengal gram offers us, in terms of daily recommended intake, 50 per cent of fibre, 20 per cent of protein, 14 per cent of potassium, less than 1 per cent of water-retaining sodium, 28 per cent of iron, 71 per cent of folate, 84 per cent of manganese, amongst others, all this in just 269 calories, we can adopt the imperial and people’s choice of consuming chana.

Who needs foods genetically modified to give us our daily dose of nutrients with such super foods around?

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Printable version | Aug 19, 2019 9:26:03 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/the-imperial-gram/article7162038.ece

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