Is Black Gram (Urad Dal) Good during Pregnancy?

Black Gram (Urad Dal) in Pregnancy – Benefits and Precautions

Medically Reviewed By
Megha Mukhija (Paediatric Nutritionist)
View more Paediatric Nutritionist Our Panel of Experts

Black gram, commonly known as urad dal, is a nutrient-packed lentil boasting essential Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, vital for the human body as they are not naturally produced. Particularly beneficial for pregnant women, urad dal offers a delectable taste along with nutritional advantages. During pregnancy, dietary choices become crucial, prompting the question of whether you can eat black gram during pregnancy. There are some people who believe that it’s not safe to consume urad dal when expecting. To address these concerns, it is essential to explore and understand the nutritional benefits and potential risks associated with incorporating black gram into a pregnancy diet. So, here’s all you need to know about eating black urad dal during pregnancy.

Is It Safe to Eat Urad Dal During Pregnancy?

Urad dal can be safely consumed by a pregnant woman, with some precautions, of course. We have covered those precautions in this article. But before you read those precautions, take a look at some of the important nutrients present in ural dal and how eating this dal in moderation can benefit you during pregnancy.

Important Nutrients Present in Black Gram

Black gram (urad dal) is not just rich in fatty acids, but has many other nutrients too:

Nutrients Nutritional value 
Essential fatty acids One cup contains 566 mg of omega-3 and 43 mg of Omega-6
Calories 324 g per 100 gms
Total Fat 1.6 g per 100 gms
Sodium 18.9 mg per 100 gms
Potassium 1157 mg per 100 gms
Total Carbohydrate 51 g per 100 gms
Protein 23.06 g per 100 gms
Calcium 55.67 mg per 100 gms
Iron 4.67 per 100 gms
Vitamin B-6 0.22 mg per 100 gms
Magnesium 173 mg per 100 gms

Source: IFCT, 2017 by the Indian Council of Medical Research

10 Health Benefits of Urad Dal During Pregnancy

Packed with so many nutrients, urad dal is a power food that has the following benefits to offer during pregnancy:

1. It helps in foetal brain growth.

The essential fatty acids in urad dal help in the foetal brain development during pregnancy.

2. It helps in digestion.

Fibre-rich urad dal helps sustain good gut bacteria that help with the digestion of food.

3. It may help keep cholesterol levels in check.

The fatty acids can reduce high cholesterol levels in pregnant women who are at risk of cholesterol problems.

4. It may help strengthen the bones.

Urad dal helps the body absorb calcium and has many minerals that keep the bones strong and healthy. Having urad dal in moderation during pregnancy can strengthen your bones.

5. It may help prevent anaemia.

The iron content in urad dal can help prevent anaemia in pregnant women. It can also provide you with energy.

6. It helps prevent constipation.

Black gram or urad dal is a good source of fibre and magnesium. Constipation is a common problem during pregnancy, but it can be prevented by having fibre-rich urad dal. Fibre eases bowel movements and magnesium too helps ease constipation. 

7. It may provide energy and reduce pain.

It has a lot of energy-producing nutrients for pregnant women to beat fatigue. Urad dal also has certain properties that relieve pain and inflammation. Its high protein content gives pregnant women the extra protein required for the production of new cells.

8. It keeps skin and hair healthy.

The antioxidants in urad dal prevent various diseases. Antioxidants fight ageing, cell, and tissue damage. They also help in keeping our hair and skin healthy. It is also good for the nervous system.

9. Supports Heart Health

Urad dal contains potassium, magnesium, and fiber, which collectively contribute to heart health. Potassium helps regulate blood pressure, while magnesium supports proper heart function. Additionally, the fiber content can help manage cholesterol levels, further promoting cardiovascular well-being during pregnancy.

10. Aids in Weight Management

As a low-fat and high-protein food, urad dal can aid in weight management during pregnancy. Its protein content helps promote satiety, reducing cravings and overeating. Moreover, the fiber content supports healthy digestion and regulates blood sugar levels, which can contribute to maintaining a healthy weight during pregnancy.

Side Effects of Consuming Black Gram (Urad Dal) During Pregnancy

While black gram (urad dal) offers numerous health benefits during pregnancy, excessive consumption or certain conditions may lead to side effects. Here are some potential side effects to be aware of:

1. Flatulence and Bloating

Excessive consumption of urad dal, especially for individuals with sensitive digestive systems, can lead to gas, bloating, and flatulence. This discomfort may exacerbate existing digestive issues commonly experienced during pregnancy.

2. Allergic Reactions

Some individuals may be allergic to legumes like urad dal, leading to allergic reactions such as itching, swelling, hives, or even anaphylaxis. Pregnant women with known legume allergies should avoid consuming urad dal to prevent adverse reactions.

3. Increased Risk of Kidney Stones

Urad dal contains oxalates, compounds that can contribute to the formation of kidney stones, particularly when consumed in large quantities. Pregnant women with a history of kidney stones or a predisposition to developing them should moderate their intake of urad dal to reduce this risk.

4. Risk of Gastrointestinal Issues

Excessive consumption of urad dal may irritate the gastrointestinal tract, leading to symptoms such as indigestion, nausea, or diarrhea. Pregnant women should consume urad dal in moderation to minimize the risk of gastrointestinal discomfort.

5. Potential Interference With Iron Absorption

While urad dal is a good source of iron, it also contains compounds known as phytates, which can inhibit iron absorption. Consuming urad dal alongside iron-rich foods or supplements may reduce the absorption of dietary iron, potentially leading to iron deficiency anaemia in susceptible individuals.

6. Concerns Over Pesticide Residues

Like other agricultural products, urad dal may contain pesticide residues if not properly washed or sourced from organic sources. Pregnant women should choose organic or pesticide-free varieties of urad dal whenever possible to minimize exposure to potentially harmful chemicals.

Precautions to Take While Consuming Black Gram During Pregnancy

Urad dal should be washed well and cooked until it boils thoroughly. This is because it may contain dangerous bacteria like E. Coli, Listeria or Salmonella. Cooking it to the boiling point may destroy them. These bacteria can be especially harmful to pregnant women because they can cause diseases that may induce pre-term labour, miscarriage, stillbirth and other serious problems in a newborn baby. If you must eat this dal, try and make it at home and enjoy warm ural dal. If you’re eating it in a restaurant, ensure that it is freshly prepared and well-cooked!

Do not eat too much of urad dal either during pregnancy as an excess of anything during pregnancy is bad. Eat it in moderation, especially, if you are prone to acidity during pregnancy.

How to Incorporate Black Gram (Urad Dal) Into Your Pregnancy Diet?

Incorporating black gram (urad dal) into your pregnancy diet can provide essential nutrients and contribute to overall maternal health. With its rich nutritional profile, urad dal offers numerous benefits for expectant mothers. Here are some simple and delicious ways to include black gram in your pregnancy diet:

  • Urad Dal Soup: Prepare a nutritious soup using urad dal, vegetables, and spices for a comforting and filling meal option.
  • Urad Dal Curry: Cook urad dal with tomatoes, onions, and aromatic spices to create a flavorful and protein-rich curry dish.
  • Urad Dal Salad: Sprout urad dal and toss it with fresh vegetables, herbs, and a tangy dressing for a refreshing and nutritious salad.
  • Urad Dal Dosa: Use urad dal to make dosas or savory pancakes, which can be enjoyed with chutney or sambar for a wholesome meal.
  • Urad Dal Idli: Prepare soft and fluffy idlis using urad dal batter, which can be served with coconut chutney or a lentil-based curry for a balanced meal.
  • Urad Dal Khichdi: Cook urad dal with rice, vegetables, and spices to make a comforting and easy-to-digest khichdi, perfect for days when you need a simple yet nutritious meal.
  • Urad Dal Ladoo: Make nutritious and energy-boosting ladoos using roasted urad dal flour, jaggery, and ghee, which can be enjoyed as a healthy snack during pregnancy.
  • Urad Dal Sprouts: Sprout urad dal and add them to salads, sandwiches, or wraps for a crunchy and nutritious boost of protein and fiber.

Healthy Black Gram (Urad Dal) Recipes for Pregnant Women

Pregnancy is a crucial time to prioritize nutrition, and incorporating black gram (urad dal) into your diet can offer a plethora of health benefits. Here are some healthy and delicious urad dal recipes including a urad dal laddu during pregnancy:

1. Urad Dal Khichdi

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup urad dal
  • 1 cup rice
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tomato, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tablespoons ghee

Method

  1. Rinse urad dal and rice separately under running water.
  2. In a pressure cooker, heat ghee and add cumin seeds. Sauté until they start to splutter.
  3. Add chopped onions and sauté until golden brown.
  4. Add chopped tomatoes, turmeric powder, and salt. Cook until tomatoes turn soft.
  5. Add urad dal and rice to the cooker along with water. Mix well.
  6. Close the lid and pressure cook for 3-4 whistles or until the khichdi is cooked through.
  7. Serve hot with a dollop of ghee on top.

2. Urad Dal Ladoo

Ingredients

  • 1 cup urad dal (split black gram)
  • 1 cup grated jaggery or sugar
  • 1/4 cup ghee (clarified butter)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom powder
  • Chopped nuts for garnish (optional)

Method

  1. Dry roast urad dal in a pan over medium heat until it turns golden brown and fragrant. Let it cool down completely, then grind it into a fine powder using a mixer or food processor.
  2. In the same pan, melt jaggery or sugar with a little water to make syrup. Cook until it reaches a thick consistency.
  3. In a mixing bowl, combine the powdered urad dal, jaggery syrup, ghee, and cardamom powder. Mix well until all the ingredients are evenly incorporated.
  4. Take small portions of the mixture and shape them into round laddus (balls) using your hands. If desired, garnish each laddu with chopped nuts.
  5. Allow the laddus to cool down completely before serving. Store them in an airtight container at room temperature.

FAQs

1. Can Black Gram cause allergies during pregnancy?

While allergic reactions to black gram (urad dal) are rare, individuals with existing legume allergies may experience allergic symptoms such as itching, swelling, or hives. Pregnant women with known legume allergies should exercise caution and avoid consuming black gram to prevent potential allergic reactions.

2. Is it better to soak or sprout Black Gram before consumption during pregnancy?

Soaking or sprouting black gram before consumption during pregnancy is beneficial as it helps reduce anti-nutrients and enhance nutrient absorption. Soaking black gram overnight can help soften the dal and improve its digestibility, while sprouting increases its nutrient content, making it a healthier option for pregnant women. Therefore, both soaking and sprouting black gram are recommended before consumption during pregnancy for optimal nutrient absorption and digestion.

Urad dal can be cooked in many ways. It can also be used for tempering dishes (tadka) when you prepare other items, mainly vegetarian side dishes. It is a good source of proteins, carbohydrates, minerals, and Vitamin B6. And you can consume it in moderation during pregnancy, keeping in mind the precautions mentioned above. You can also check with your doctor or nutritionist before including it in your diet.

References/Resources:

1. FoodData Central: Urad Dal; U.S. Department of Agriculture; https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/593298/nutrients

2. Thomas. M, Leelamma. S, Kurup. P; Effect of blackgram fiber (Phaseolus mungo) on hepatic hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA reductase activity, cholesterogenesis and cholesterol degradation in rats (The Journal of Nutrition); National Library of Medicine; https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/6304266/; June 1983

3. Hervik. A, Svihus. B; The Role of Fiber in Energy Balance (Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism); National Library of Medicine; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6360548/; January 2019

4. Antioxidants During Pregnancy May Help Prevent Birth Defects Tied To Alcohol; Science Daily; https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/06/040618063137.htm; June 2004

5. Kingsley. D, Ravikumar. G, Chauhan. R, Extraction and screening of bioactive metabolites from vigna mungo against various pathogens; International Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Research; 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

6. Solanki. Y, Jain. S; Immunostimolatory activities of Vigna mungo L. extract in male Sprague-Dawley rats (Journal of Immunotoxicology); National Library of Medicine; https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20433246/

7. Umallawala. T, Shah. P, Puwar. T, et al.; Food Consumption Pattern and Dietary Diversity Among Pregnant and Lactating Women, Children, and Adolescent Girls in Devbhumi Dwarka District, Gujarat: A Cross-Sectional Study (Cureus); National Library of Medicine; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9495287/; August 2022

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Eating Chickpeas (Chana) when Pregnant
Rajma (Kidney Beans) during Pregnancy

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