7 Benefits Of Including Black Gram In Your Diet

There are many reasons why nutritionists recommend adding this legume to your diet.

By Payal Karnik, Certified Health & Nutrition Life Coach

Black gram, also known as urad dal, is a legume native to South Asia. Many South Asian cuisines feature this pulse crop in stews, soups, and fermented foods. It is packed with essential nutrients, including protein, minerals, vitamins, dietary fiber, and antioxidants that are beneficial to the body in many ways. Black gram is also said to promote heart, liver, and bone health besides lowering blood sugar levels. But is there any scientific evidence to back these claims? This article discusses the health benefits of black gram, its nutritional value, potential side effects, and some of its easy-to-make recipes. Keep reading.

What Is Black Gram?

Black gram (Vigna mungo) is a South Asian legume belonging to the Fabaceae (Leguminosae) family. This popular pulse goes by many names: urad, urid, black matpe, mash bean, mash daal, among others.

Black gram is essentially a black seed that is cylindrical and narrow in shape. A black coating or hull surrounds the white inside. This legume is sold in whole, split, or dehulled forms. The split form is the seed divided in half with a black and a white side, which is often called ’white lentil’. However, black gram is not a lentil.

Authentic South Asian cuisine revolves around black gram. It is traditionally used in ’dals’, in which it is simmered, blended, and spiced. It is also used to prepare delicious stews and curries, while idlis and dosas are among the most popular black gram recipes in India that are made using its flour.
In medieval India, black gram dal was also used for making crucibles (ceramic or metal vessels). The dal was used to make them impermeable.

Black gram is a high-protein food and contains almost three times as much protein in cereals. This makes it a valuable protein source for vegetarians (1), (2). Let us discover more about its nutritional value in the section below.

Nutritional Information Of Black Gram

A 100g serving of black gram contains (1):

Calories350
Protein24 g
Carbohydrates60 g (Fiber: 29 g)
Total lipids (Fat)1.5 g
Calcium200 mg
Iron7.2 mg
Phosphorus345 mg
Sodium40 mg

Black gram is considered healthy for its high protein and fiber content. Moreover, it offers essential minerals like Ca, K, Na, Mg, Cu, and Zn in addition to various essential and non-essential amino acids. Black gram also has a healthy balance of fatty acids, tocopherol (vitamin E), and sterols (3). As a result, black gram offers a wide range of health benefits. Keep scrolling to find out what they are.

Potential Health Benefits Of Black Gram

1. May Promote Heart Health

Black gram may benefit woman with heart problems

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Black gram contains protein, polysaccharides (complex carbohydrates), and neutral detergent fiber that help lower blood lipid (fat) levels (4), (5).

A high blood lipid level is linked with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, especially atherosclerosis (the buildup of fats, cholesterol, and other substances in and on the blood vessels) (6).

Studies on rats have shown that black gram may reduce fat and cholesterol levels. It was found to minimize the activity of enzymes required for cholesterol synthesis, increase bile excretion, and decrease dietary cholesterol absorption (7), (8).

2. May Help Manage Diabetes

Black gram may benefit woman with diabetes

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The fiber-rich black gram has the potential to lower blood sugar levels. This is because fiber slows down digestion and reduces the absorption of energy-producing nutrients, especially glucose, into the blood (9), (10).

Studies observed that black gram extract had decreased blood glucose levels and increased insulin levels in diabetic rats. It was also found to protect and stimulate insulin-producing cells (11). It has been reported that legume-rich diets lower diabetes risk by improving blood sugar control (12).

3. Is A Good Source Of Antioxidants

Black gram is a rich source of phenolic acids, flavonoids, and condensed tannins, which have potent antioxidant properties. A study suggests that phenolic-rich foods, through their antioxidant activity, may help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, neurodegenerative conditions, and Alzheimer’s. The results also reveal that black gram extracts have age-inhibiting activity and can potentially be used as an ingredient in skin-whitening creams (13).

4. May Prevent Infections

A variety of proteins and bioactive components in black gram, like methyl ester, inhibit pathogenic microorganisms. According to a study, black gram has the potential to prevent the growth of pathogenic microbes like Klebsiella sp., Bacillus sp., Enterococci sp., Pseudomonas aeruginosa, etc. This popular legume may also help prevent the growth of fungi like Aspergillus niger and Candida albicans (14), (15).

5. May Promote Bone Strength

Black gram may benefit woman with weak bones

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Black gram is ideal for building bones as it has a good balance of calcium and phosphorus. A diet high in animal protein and phosphorus may cause calcium loss. A low Ca/P ratio (low calcium intake and high phosphorus intake) may lead to excessive calcium loss in the urine and decrease calcium levels in the bones. Good food has a Ca/P ratio of >1 while poor food has a ratio below 0.5.

Black gram has a Ca/P (calcium and phosphorus) ratio ranging from 0.68 to 1.19, indicating that it is a good source of minerals for bone formation (16).

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Ancient Ayurvedic texts mention that applying dry roasted black gram paste or its oil on inflamed joints can ease the pain and provide instant relief.

6. May Protect Kidney And Liver

Black gram may benefit woman with kidney problem

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Phytic acid, phenolic acids, tannins, and flavonoids are some of the powerful antioxidants found in black grams. They protect the liver from drug-induced damage. These effects of black gram are also attributed to its ability to inhibit the activity of hepatic microsomal enzyme (present in liver).

The saponins (natural compounds found in legumes) in black gram are also strong diuretics (help rid your body of excess salt and water). They detoxify the body by excreting sodium, potassium, toxins, drug metabolites, etc. This helps protect the liver and kidneys from the damaging effects of drugs (17), (18).

7. May Boost Immune System

The bioactive compounds in black gram stimulate the immune system by boosting the activity of its components. It is most likely that fatty acids, saponins, vitamins, and amino acids are responsible for these stimulatory effects. According to a study, consuming black gram extracts was found to boost the production of immune cells (antibodies) (19), (20).

The health benefits of black gram are far-reaching. Hence, including this delicious legume in your diet can be a great choice. But how do you go about it?

How To Add Black Gram To Your Diet

Black gram could contain dust or small stones. Hence, wash and rinse thoroughly before using it. It is typically soaked for about five hours or overnight before being used in different dishes. The legume has a nutty, creamy, and bland taste when cooked.

Here are a few ways to include black gram in your diet:

  • Make fermented dishes like idlis and dosas.
  • Cook and puree to make delicious ‘dals’. These go well with rice or roti (Indian flatbread).
  • Grind into flour and make confectionery, flatbreads, or bread. You can also make vadas and papads using this flour.

You can store black gram indefinitely in an airtight container in a cool, dry environment. Cooked black gram can be refrigerated for three to four days.

This way, you can include black gram in your diet quite easily. In the next section, we list some of the best and easiest black gram recipes to try. Keep scrolling.

Popular Black Gram Recipes

Black gram dal

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1. Black Gram Dal

What You Need

  • Black gram: 1 cup
  • Onion (chopped): 1
  • Tomato puree: 1 cup
  • Garlic cloves (crushed): 3
  • Ginger (crushed): 1-inch piece
  • Green chili (chopped): 1
  • Coriander powder: 1 teaspoon
  • Cumin seeds: ½ teaspoon
  • Turmeric powder: ½ teaspoon
  • Red chili powder: ½ teaspoon
  • Garam masala powder: ¼ teaspoon
  • Oil: 1 tablespoon
  • Water: 3 cups
  • Salt, as needed
  • Coriander leaves (for garnishing)

How To Prepare

  1. Rinse the black gram in water a few times and soak it for five hours. Drain.
  2. Heat the oil in a pan and stir in cumin seeds. Add the onions when they start sizzling. Cook until the onions are brown.
  3. Add the tomato puree and crushed ginger and garlic.
  4. Stir in all the dry spice powders. Add the green chilies.
  5. Sauté the masala until the oil starts to separate.
  6. Add the soaked black gram, salt, and water.
  7. Cook the black gram under pressure for 18 to 20 minutes or until it is tender.
  8. Garnish with the coriander leaves. Enjoy with naan, rotis, or rice.

2. Black Gram Fritters

What You Need

  • Black gram (rinsed and soaked for 5 hours): 1 cup
  • Kale leaves: 1 cup
  • Ginger: ½-inch piece
  • Green chili: 1
  • Red chili flakes: 1 teaspoon
  • Coriander (chopped): 2 tablespoons
  • Onions (chopped): 2 tablespoons
  • Lemon juice: 2 tablespoons
  • Salt, as needed

How To Prepare

  1. Smoothly grind the black gram, kale leaves, ginger, and green chili. Add one cup of water, if necessary, as you grind to adjust consistency.
  2. Add the rest of the seasoning ingredients and mix well to form the fritter batter.
  3. Heat oil in a pan. Add the batter by spoonfuls and fry until the fritters are golden. Drain on paper towels.
  4. Serve with your favorite chutney or sauce while still warm.

3. Black Gram Dosa

What You Need

  • Black gram (rinsed and soaked for 5 hours): ½ cup
  • Idli rice (rinsed and soaked for 5 hours): 1½ cups
  • Fenugreek seeds: 1 teaspoon
  • Salt, as needed

How To Prepare

  1. Grind the black gram and fenugreek seeds (adding water as needed at intervals) until the batter begins to bubble and becomes fluffy. Pour into a separate bowl.
  2. Blend the soaked idli rice with a little water until smooth.
  3. Mix both the batters thoroughly by hand.
  4. Ferment overnight or for at least eight hours. The batter should rise the next day.
  5. Spread the batter thinly in circular motions in a hot pan. Cook for two minutes. Flip and cook for one more minute.
  6. Take the dosa out and serve with chutney.

Black gram is often compared to another closely related crop, the mung bean or green gram. The two species are similar and sometimes share the same local name. However, they are different in a few ways. Keep reading to find out.

Green Gram Vs. Black Gram

Black gram and green gram differ in the following ways:

CharacteristicsBlack GramGreen Gram
Scientific nameVigna mungoVigna radiata
Common nameUrad/mash beanMung bean
AppearanceWhite interior with black hull;

Bright yellow flowers;

Pods are upright;

Hairier than green gram

White interior with green hull;

Pale yellow flowers;

Pods are pendulous

Nutritional contentHigher mineral and fiber contentHigher moisture, fat, and protein

content

The two legumes only differ minutely. Therefore, including either of them in your diet will greatly help your health. Nonetheless, black gram might not be suitable for everyone and may cause certain side effects. Learn more in the next section.

Possible Side Effects And Allergies

Black gram has a high protein content. Some of these proteins may cause allergic reactions. Several regions, including Asia and Australia, have reported black gram containing allergenic peptides. Hence, consuming black gram can induce allergic reactions in asthma and rhinitis patients (21), (22). Anecdotal evidence suggests that the symptoms could range from breathlessness to runny nose, itching in the mouth, and skin rashes.

Final Words

Black gram is a highly prized legume native to South Asia. It is a rich source of protein, minerals, vitamins, dietary fiber, and antioxidants, all of which contribute to a healthy body. Black gram also serves as a natural means to lower blood sugar levels, promote heart, liver, and bone health, and boost the immune system. However, black gram may cause allergies in some individuals, especially those with asthma and rhinitis. Consult your doctor in case of any adverse reaction.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is black gram good for hair?

Yes. Applying black gram paste on hair may help treat dandruff and other hair problems (23).

Is black gram hard to digest?

No. Black gram is a rich source of fiber and easy to digest.

Key Takeaways

  • Black gram is a valuable protein source as it contains almost three times as much protein as cereals.
  • It promotes heart health, manages diabetes, reduces cancer risk, and has age-inhibiting activity.
  • In some cases, some of these proteins may cause allergic reactions like asthma.

Sources

Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

  1. URAD DAL
    https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/593298/nutrients
  2. WHOLE GRAIN CEREAL
    https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/588465/nutrients
  3. Compositional studies and biological activities of some mash bean (Vigna mungo (L.) Hepper) cultivars commonly consumed in Pakistan
    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/263971545_Compositional_studies_and_biological_activities_of_some_mash_bean_Vigna_mungo_L_Hepper_cultivars_commonly_consumed_in_Pakistan
  4. Black Gram (Vigna mungo) – A hypolipidemic pulse
    http://nopr.niscair.res.in/handle/123456789/12287
  5. Mung Bean (Vigna radiata L.): Bioactive Polyphenols Polysaccharides Peptides and Health Benefits
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC6627095/
  6. Hyperlipidemia as a Risk Factor for Cardiovascular Disease
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC3572442/
  7. Antihyperlipidemic activity of Clitoria ternatea and Vigna mungo in rats
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20673179/
  8. Effect of blackgram fiber (Phaseolus mungo) on hepatic hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA reductase activity. cholesterogenesis and cholesterol degradation in rats
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/6304266/
  9. Antihyperglycemic studies with boiled and non-boiled Vigna mungo seeds
    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/289244156_Antihyperglycemic_studies_with_boiled_and_non-boiled_Vigna_mungo_seeds
  10. The Role of Fiber in Energy Balance
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC6360548/
  11. AMELIORATIVE POTENTIAL OF VIGNA MUNGO SEEDS ON HYPERGLYCEMIA MEDIATED OXIDATIVE STRESS AND HYPERLIPIDEMIA IN STZ DIABETIC RATS
    http://greenpharmacy.info/index.php/ijgp/article/view/211
  12. Legume consumption is inversely associated with type 2 diabetes incidence in adults: A prospective assessment from the PREDIMED study
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28392166/
  13. Compositional studies and biological activities of some mash bean (Vigna mungo (L.) Hepper) cultivars commonly consumed in Pakistan
    https://biolres.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/0717-6287-47-23#Sec3
  14. EXTRACTION AND SCREENING OF BIOACTIVE METABOLITES FROM VIGNA MUNGO AGAINST VARIOUS PATHOGENS
    https://www.researchgate.net/profile/J-Kingsley/publication/263436738_Extraction_and_screening_of_bioactive_metabolites_from_Vigna_mungo_against_various_pathogens/links/570b671d08ae2eb94220e850/Extraction-and-screening-of-bioactive-metabolites-from-Vigna-mungo-against-various-pathogens.pdf
  15. Study of Antimicrobial and Cytotoxic activities of Vigna Mungo Linn. Hepper (Family-Leguminosae)
    http://www.pharmatutorjournal.com/index.php/pt/article/view/271
  16. The Biochemical Composition and Nutritional Potential of Three Varieties of Vigna mungo (L.) Hepperhttps://soeagra.com/abr/vol2/2.pdf
  17. Evaluation of hepatoprotective and nephroprotective activity of aqueous extract of Vigna mungo (Linn.) Hepper on rifampicin-induced toxicity in albino rats
    https://www.ijhas.in/article.asp?issn=2278-344X;year=2012;volume=1;issue=2;spage=85;epage=91;aulast=Nitin
  18. Hepatoprotective Effects of Clitoria ternatea and Vigna mungo against Acetaminophen and Carbon tetrachloride-induced Hepatotoxicity in Rats
    https://scialert.net/fulltext/?doi=jpt.2011.30.48&org=10
  19. Immunostimolatory activities of Vigna mungo L. extract in male Sprague-Dawley rats
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20433246/
  20. Evaluation of immunomodulatory activity of Vigna mungo (L) hepper
    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/239735511_Evaluation_of_immunomodulatory_activity_of_Vigna_mungo_L_hepper
  21. Sensitization to blackgram in patients with bronchial asthma and rhinitis: Clinical evaluation and characterization of allergens
    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/7406794_Sensitization_to_blackgram_in_patients_with_bronchial_asthma_and_rhinitis_Clinical_evaluation_and_characterization_of_allergens
  22. Allergic manifestation by black gram (Vigna mungo) proteins in allergic patients BALB/c mice and RBL-2H3 cells
    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1567576914003300
  23.  Isolation and Characterization of Binding agent from Black Gram
    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/337904842_Isolation_and_Characterization_of_Binding_agent_from_Black_Gram
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Payal Karnik is a certified health and nutrition life coach. She is a biotechnology graduate from the University of Mumbai... more

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