Good old kidney beans have health benefits too

One of my very favourite dishes since childhood has been rajma chawal, that is kidney beans with rice. It is an irresistible combination for my family, especially on Sundays. My grandmother told me that her mother used to cook a Jammu-style rajma using mustard oil, mustard seeds, whole red chillies, asafoetida and tomatoes. Barri mama taught me that the best way to thicken the gravy was to mash some of the rajma separately and mix it back in the gravy.

Rajma is one of the healthiest beans one can have. Not only is it easy to cook, it contains a lot of fibre. Now we all know that fibre is very good for us. One cup of cooked kidney beans provides 45.3 per cent of the recommended daily intake for fibre. This fibre helps to lower any cholesterol in the body by binding with the fat globules in the digestive tract so the body can excrete all of it. Also, because rajma has high fibre content, it is an excellent choice of food for people with diabetes. Blood sugar levels do not rise as fast after a meal, thus helping the individual maintain a healthy sugar balance.

Besides fibre, rajma contains folate, magnesium and iron, among other nutrients. Reports show that the folate content in kidney beans helps to lower the homocysteine levels in the body, high levels of which are related to the risk of developing heart disease. Magnesium helps to avoid hardening of the arteries by improving the blood, oxygen and nutrients flow within the body. Iron gives you more energy and fibre regulates your digestive function. Finally, the combination of brown rice and beans is one of the ways in which vegans and vegetarians can get all their proteins in one simple, tasty dish! Add a non-dairy raita to the combo, and there you have a traditional meal combination. Who said following a vegan diet makes you compromise on taste?

Many studies have been conducted on the health benefits of eating beans and legumes. One study found that higher legume consumption was associated with a whopping 82 per cent reduction in risk of death from heart disease! And another found that people eating the most fibre, 21 grammes per day, had 12 per cent less coronary heart disease (CHD) and 11 per cent less cardiovascular disease (CVD) compared with those eating the least, five grammes daily. So come on, eat those legumes like your life depends on them, because it does!

This is a recipe contributed by actor Sonakshi Sinha to my book.

(The writer is a veganchef and author of The Vegan Kitchen: Bollywood Style!)

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