It is crucial to pay close attention to nutrition during pregnancy because it is a transformative and delicate time in a woman’s life. This is for the benefit of both the mother and the growing fetus. During this time, a well-balanced, nutrient-dense diet is critical for providing the basic nutrients required for the baby’s optimal growth and development in the womb. An ancient legume from Southeast Asia called horse gram (Macrotyloma uniflorum) has come to be known for its exceptional nutritional profile and potential health advantages. However, during vulnerable times in a woman’s life, such as pregnancy, even foods with a high nutritional profile are not safe.
What about horse gram during pregnancy? Is it okay to eat horse gram while pregnant? Is horse gram hot or cold for the body? In this article, we will discuss the advantages of including horse gram in your pregnancy diet, how to do so, and how it affects both your health and the health of your unborn child.
What Is Horse Gram?
Horse gram is a highly adaptable and nutritive legume that has grown in popularity for both its culinary applications and potential health advantages. It is scientifically known as Macrotyloma uniflorum and is known for its small, oval-shaped, and reddish-brown seeds.
These seeds are rich in nutrients and have been a part of traditional diets for centuries. They are a good source of plant-based protein, dietary fiber, vitamins (such as folate, iron, and vitamin C), and minerals (including calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium). Due to its high nutritional content, horse gram is often considered a superfood.
In culinary traditions, horse gram is used in a variety of ways. It is commonly used in soups, stews, curries, and salads. The seeds can be soaked, cooked, or sprouted to enhance their digestibility and nutrient availability. Horse gram is valued not only for its taste but also for its potential health benefits.
Related Reading: Protein Powder During Pregnancy – Safe Practices And Risks
Can Pregnant Women Eat Horse Gram?
During pregnancy, eating foods high in protein is important1. Horse gram has a high protein content and is rich in nutrients that support the general health of pregnant women. It is suitable for pregnant women with gestational diabetes due to its low glycemic index2.
While horse gram is generally considered safe for consumption, individual circumstances, such as allergies, existing medical conditions, or specific dietary requirements, may influence its suitability. Pregnancy is a critical period where the nutritional needs of both the mother and the developing fetus should be met adequately.
There isn’t any proof that consuming horse gram seeds during pregnancy is harmful. Yet, it is recommended that horse gram seeds be consumed in moderation, as consuming large amounts can significantly raise body temperature. It is advisable to seek professional guidance to ensure that horse gram or any other food is included in a balanced and healthy pregnancy diet.
Benefits Of Eating Horse Gram During Pregnancy
As horse gram is such a rich source of various nutrients, consuming it when pregnant naturally has quite a lot of health benefits. Here are a few ways having horse gram during pregnancy can be beneficial to you and your baby:
1. Boosts your immunity
When you are pregnant, your immune system is particularly vulnerable, and infections that may pass harmlessly during other times can be catastrophic for you and the health of the fetus.
Thus, it is important to ensure you are at your healthiest throughout your pregnancy. Including horse gram in your diet can help with that. Horse gram contains several important nutrients that boost your immunity3.
2. Helps with weight management
Horse gram is also a rich source of proteins and phenol. These nutrients are useful if you have trouble gaining sufficient pregnancy weight. You must gain some weight during pregnancy to support the fetus. Not gaining enough weight can lead to complications.
Consuming horse gram during pregnancy helps you achieve healthy weight gain and maintain optimal pregnancy weight. Horse gram also contains relatively fewer calories, which means it can help prevent unhealthy weight gain4.
3. Helps with gestational diabetes
Gestational diabetes is one of the most common problems faced by pregnant women. It can also be quite risky and cause complications during pregnancy. Horse gram reduces insulin resistance and reduces glucose levels. So having some horse gram during pregnancy can help you prevent gestational diabetes5.
4. Helps with cholesterol
It is very important to mind your cholesterol when pregnant. Too much cholesterol can cause many pregnancy issues. It can lead to hypertension and even pre-eclampsia. So keeping your cholesterol and blood pressure in check is vital. Horse gram, which is rich in fiber, helps control cholesterol and keeps it at a healthy level6.
5. Improves blood count
When you are pregnant, your body begins to produce about twice as much blood as usual. This is significant, as this increased blood count is important for the health and development of the baby. The high iron content in horse gram helps increase the blood count, which can be very beneficial during pregnancy7.
Related Reading: Eating Red Meat During Pregnancy – Benefits Risks And Precautions
6. Detoxifies the body
Horse gram is a rich source of flavonoids and polyphenols. These are beneficial for the liver and the gallbladder and have hepatoprotective properties. Thus, they aid in the detoxification of the blood and removing harmful toxins from the body. This is very useful during such a vulnerable time8.
7. Helps with digestion
Pregnancy is a time when digestive issues are aplenty. Problems like constipation, indigestion, excess gas, etc. are commonplace. Having horse gram during pregnancy is a good way to prevent these digestive issues, as it contains a high level of fiber content9.
8. Horse gram can be a home remedy for various issues
Having horse gram as a part of your regular diet will also help you stay generally healthy. It is used often as a traditional medicine for various ailments, many of which can make an appearance or be exacerbated during pregnancy.
Some examples of issues that can be prevented with the help of horse gram are bronchitis, peptic ulcer, jaundice, etc. However, remember that if you are afflicted by one of these ailments, you have to seek professional healthcare10.
9. Good for skin
If you experience skin-related issues during pregnancy, you are not the only one. Issues like dry skin, rashes, irritation, and more, are annoyingly common during pregnancy. This is usually due to the hormonal changes pregnant women face. Consuming horse gram, or incorporating it into your skincare routine by using it in a face pack, can help relieve such symptoms11.
Related Reading: 11 Easy Tips Glowing Skin During Pregnancy
Risks Of Eating Horse Gram During Pregnancy
While horse gram has several benefits for a soon-to-be mother, there remain some risks that you ought to know about and take sufficient precautions against. Here are a few of the disadvantages of eating horse gram during pregnancy12:
- As mentioned above, horse gram tends to elevate your body temperature, especially if you have too much. The problem is compounded by the fact that a pregnant woman’s body temperature is already higher than normal due to hormonal changes during pregnancy. Thus, eating horse gram can cause discomfort and irritation, particularly in the summer
- Horse gram contains high amounts of fiber, and also contains a carbohydrate called raffinose oligosaccharides. Excess consumption of these nutrients can lead to digestive issues13
- During pregnancy, you may develop new allergies and intolerances, or you may already be allergic to some component of horse gram. If you notice yourself having any sort of reaction, stop consuming them immediately
- Horse gram contains phytic acid. Phytic acid can sometimes affect the absorption of other essential nutrients, such as iron. However, this risk can be reduced by soaking the horse gram thoroughly and cooking it
Related Reading: Sprouts During Pregnancy- Benefits, And Precautions
The Best Way To Eat Horse Gram During Pregnancy
Using horse gram in various ways during pregnancy can help incorporate its nutritional benefits into your diet. Here are the 12 best ways to use horse gram:
- Horse gram soup: Prepare a nutritious soup by boiling soaked and cooked horse gram with vegetables, spices, and herbs. This warming soup can be a comforting and healthy option
- Horse gram salad: Toss cooked horse gram with fresh vegetables like cucumber, tomatoes, and bell peppers, and a light dressing for a refreshing and fiber-rich salad
- Horse gram curry: Create a flavorful curry by simmering cooked horse gram with a tomato-based sauce, aromatic spices, and coconut milk for a rich and satisfying dish
- Horse gram stir-fry: Sauté cooked horse gram with a variety of colorful vegetables and seasonings for a quick and nutritious stir-fry
- Horse gram hummus: Blend cooked horse gram with tahini, lemon juice, garlic, and olive oil to make a protein-packed and flavorful hummus. Enjoy it with whole wheat pita bread or vegetable sticks
- Horse gram dosa: Make a healthy twist on traditional dosas by adding horse gram flour to the batter. These protein-rich dosas can be served with chutney or sambar
- Horse gram sprouts salad: Sprout horse gram and mix it with chopped vegetables, lemon juice, and a sprinkle of chaat masala for a crunchy and nutritious salad
- Horse gram porridge: Cook horse gram with water or milk to create a comforting and nourishing porridge. Sweeten it with honey or a natural sweetener of your choice, and add spices like cinnamon or cardamom for flavor
- Horse gram paratha: Incorporate cooked horse gram into whole wheat dough to make delicious and protein-packed parathas. Serve them with yogurt or a side of vegetable curry.
- Horse Gram Smoothie: Blend cooked horse gram with fruits like bananas, berries, or mangoes, along with yogurt or milk, to create a creamy and nutritious smoothie
- Horse gram rice: Cook horse gram along with rice, spices, and vegetables to make a flavorful one-pot meal. This wholesome dish can be enjoyed with raita or yogurt
- Horse gram sprout sundal: Season sprouted horse gram with mustard seeds, curry leaves, and grated coconut for a traditional South Indian snack. It can be enjoyed on its own or as a side dish
Each pregnancy is different and nutritional needs also differ. If you have any pre-existing medical conditions, allergies, or special dietary requirements, it is important to consult your doctor or registered dietitian before including horse grams in your pregnancy diet.
Related Reading: Is It Safe To Eat Raw Vegetables During Pregnancy?
To make the most of its benefits and ensure safety, here are some guidelines for the best way to eat horse gram during pregnancy.
- Soak horse gram seeds overnight for 8-10 hours for softening, reducing cooking time, and enhancing digestibility. When eating horse gram during early pregnancy, rinse the seeds thoroughly, cook until tender, and use boiling, pressure cooking, or slow cooker for easy digestion and minimizing gastrointestinal discomfort
- Horse gram can be added to some meals to boost their nutritional content. It can be used in salads, curries, soups, and stews to boost their nutritional value. Horse gram can be used with other legumes, vegetables, or whole grains to create balanced meals Including Horse gram in the pregnancy diet boosts the amount of protein and fiber intake, boosting overall nutrition during pregnancy
- Sprouting horse gram can enhance its nutritional benefits by increasing enzymatic activity, improving nutrient availability, and aiding digestion. Rinse the seeds and soak them overnight. Drain the water, place them in a damp cloth or jar, and rinse twice a day. After a few days, sprouts appear, which can be added to salads, stir-fries, or eaten as a snack
- While horse gram is nutritious, it should be consumed in moderation during pregnancy. A registered dietitian may help to determine the appropriate portion size and frequency of consuming horse gram during pregnancy
- During pregnancy, hydration is crucial. Cook horse gram in enough water to prevent drying out
- Follow food safety measures, rinsing seeds, ensuring proper temperatures, and storing cooked horse gram properly to prevent bacterial contamination
Unless you have an allergy to it, it is completely safe for you to have horse gram during pregnancy. It is a highly nutritious legume that contains high levels of protein, iron, fiber, calcium, vitamin B, and more. Consuming it during pregnancy can be very beneficial for you.
However, make sure you consume it in moderation, which is the best policy during pregnancy. Most potential risks associated with horse gram occur due to excess consumption. Also, make sure you keep your doctor in the loop about any development. As long as you follow these precautions, horse gram can be a very advantageous addition to your pregnancy diet.