ICMR says overcooking pulses can reduce quality of protein, suggests how much water to use, in new guidelines | Health

Discussing different methods of cooking food and elaborating on their benefits and limitations, ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research) in its recently released guidelines shared that boiling or pressure cooking is the best way to improve nutritional quality of pulses. The method can reduce phytic acid in legumes and improve nutrient availability. However, the apex medical research body says overboiling of pulses must be avoided as it can deteriorate quality of protein. (Also read: ICMR advises people to go for whole spices in new guidelines: ‘Powdered spices are more likely to be adulterated’)

Boiling or pressure cooking is the best way to improve the nutritional quality of pulses since anti-nutritional factors are destroyed during boiling and pressure cooking(Unsplash)

“Boiling or pressure cooking is the best way to improve the nutritional quality of pulses since anti-nutritional factors (enzyme inhibitors that do not allow nutrients to get digested) are destroyed during boiling and pressure cooking. Hence these methods increase the digestibility and therefore protein availability,” the guidelines on nutrition read.

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Boiling can reduce concentration of phytic acid in cereals and legumes – which hinders the absorption of minerals and decreases – to a great extent after boiling or pressure cooking, making important minerals like iron, calcium, magnesium, and zinc absorbable on consumption.

How much water to add while cooking

ICMR guidelines say that ‘just enough water’ should be added while boiling as this would rule out draining the water and help retain essential nutrients.

“Boiling just enough water, without having to drain the water is the best method to retain folate in legumes. This method of cooking improves the palatability of pulses,” it says.

Longer cooking can lead to loss of lysine

Pulses, however, should not be overcooked or boiled for too long as can reduce the quality of proteins.

“Longer cooking causes a drop in the nutritive value of pulses as it results in the loss of lysine. Remember to add only the required amount of water during boiling,” as per ICMR guidelines.

ICMR along with National Institute of Nutrition released 17 new dietary guidelines for Indians across different age groups to help them make better food choices.

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