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Articles - A Healthy Diet:

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The good into the pot, the bad into the crop – this applies not only to the tale of Cinderella and her lentils. Dried peas and beans, too, should first be sifted to remove small stones and damaged seeds. After a brief wash under running water, dried pulses – with the exception of lentils and hulled peas – need to be soaked before cooking. Soaking reduces the cooking time. The pulses are then easier to digest. The best is to soak them overnight and then discard the soaking water.

Cooking time can vary considerably

Then you put them in pot. Pulses should, under no circumstances, be eaten raw. Raw pulses contain a number of substances, such as lectines, protease inhibitors and hydrocyanic acid, which can damage your health. These substances are destroyed by cooking, so that there’s no risk in eating cooked pulses. The cooking time will vary depending on the size and type of pulse: Whereas red lentils take 15 minutes to cook, beans take 60 – 90 minutes and chick peas can even take 120 minutes. A pressure cooker will reduce the cooking time considerably.

Pulses are highly versatile

The effort of the long preparation time is worthwhile. Pulses have much to offer in the way of taste and content. In particular the high protein and fibre content makes them nutritionally very valuable. They also contain many of the B vitamins together with minerals such as calcium, magnesium and iron. And because they contain very few calories they are ideal ingredients for the low-calorie diets. And this is not all: their taste adds to your the menu in many different ways – as an ingredient in a hearty stew, in a fine soup, as a bread spread, a puree or in a salad. As a main course they go well with pasta, rice, meat and fish.


But some pulses take a while to cook

Did you know that bloating and wind after eating pulses can be sharply reduced if you soak them long enough and cook them thoroughly. The indigestible carbohydrate stachyose, which produces gas in many people, dissolves into the soaking water. This is why you should never use the soaking water to cook the pulses. Some herbs such as savoury, fennel seed, marjoram or caraway also help to make pulses more digestible.

Source: Dr. Claudia Müller, www.aid.de