Black gram nutrition: glycemic index, calories and diets
Complete nutrition and health benefits analysis for Black gram
Black gram is a type of bean that has been cultivated by different cultures for millennia. It has many names: Vigna mungo, being the scientific name, urd bean, urad bean, black matpe bean, mungo bean, minapa pappu, mash bean. Black gram is also often referred to as black lentil, but it is not to be confused with the true black lentil, scientifically named Lens culinaris. This legume has originated in South Asia and has been used in Indian culture since ancient times.
The flowers of the black gram plants are small and yellow in color, while the fruits are cylindrical. The pods are hairy and contain one to four seeds in each pod. The seed is black and has an ellipsoid form, rounded and slightly elongated.
Black lentil is the whole grain, whereas the same grain with the outer black skin removed is referred to as white lentil. The white lentil is also called urad dal or split black gram.
The black gram is one of the most widely produced and consumed lentils in India. It is often used in the form of the dish “dhal” or ground into flour and used to make poppadoms.
Comparison to Green Gram
Black gram belongs to the Fabaceae family and the Vigna genus. It resembles and is closely related to the green gram, also named mung bean or Vigna radiata. These two types of beans used to belong to the Phaseolus genus but were later transferred to the Vigna genus.
The black and green gram plants have two main differences: the flower petals of the Vigna radiata are bright yellow, while the Vigna mungo flower petals have a paler yellow color. The black gram plants are erect, while the green gram plants hang loose (1).
Nutritionally, cooked black and green gram beans provide the same number of calories. However, black gram beans are slightly higher in fats and proteins, whereas green gram beans are higher in carbohydrates, and therefore, dietary fiber.
When looking at the micronutrient contents, black gram beans are richer in calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, as well as vitamin B3 and vitamin A. Green gram beans, on the other hand, provide a higher level of potassium, copper, vitamin B1, vitamin B6, and folate, or vitamin B9. Green gram is also lower in sodium.
To sum up, black gram beans are richer in proteins, fats, and minerals, while green gram beans have more favorable carbohydrate and vitamin profiles.
Green grams have a light property and are much easier to digest as opposed to black gram beans (2).
Black grams are incredibly rich in nutrients and minerals overall.
Naturally, the cooking method can alter the nutritional content of the beans. The nutritional values below are presented for mature, raw mungo beans and mature mungo beans boiled without added salt.
Macronutrients and Calories
Black gram is a high-calorie food. A 100g of raw black gram beans contains 341 calories. However, a 100g serving of cooked black gram beans is naturally lower in calories, containing only 105.
The average serving size of dry black gram beans is 35g. Meaning one average serving size of cooked black gram provides 119 calories.
Raw black gram beans are incredibly dense in nutrients, containing only 11% water. At the same time, cooked black gram beans consist 73% of water and 27% of nutrients.
Carbohydrates in Black Gram
The predominant macronutrients found in black gram beans are carbohydrates with 59g per every 100g serving of raw black gram beans. About 26% of those carbohydrates are composed of dietary fiber. Vigna mungo has little added sugars, only one gram per 100 grams.
A 100g of boiled black gram beans contains 18.3g of carbohydrates and 6.4g of dietary fiber.
Raw mungo beans also contain a significant level of starch (3), however, boiling black gram beans in water lowers the starch content level.
Protein in Black Gram
The next major macronutrient is protein. Black gram contains 25g of protein in a 100g serving. It is abundant in all essential amino acids, especially histidine, tryptophan, and isoleucine.
The same serving size of cooked black gram beans contains 7.54g of protein.
As urad beans contain some amount of all essential amino acids, the protein found in these beans is considered to be of high quality. The only essential amino acid black gram beans have a relative lack of is methionine.
Of the non-essential amino acids, black gram beans are rich in glutamic and aspartic acids.
Fats in Black Gram
The urad bean contains only 2g of fats per 100g serving.
Cooking black gram beans lowers the fat content by nearly 4 times. A hundred gram serving of boiled black grams contains only 0.55g of fats.
The predominant fat type found in mungo beans is polyunsaturated fatty acids, making up 84% of the fat content. Black gram also contains low levels of monounsaturated and saturated fatty acids.
Being a plant product, black gram naturally contains no cholesterol.
Black gram beans are rich in B group vitamins, particularly in vitamin B9 or folate, vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, and B6. Mungo beans also contain some amounts of vitamin A, vitamin K, and vitamin E.
Black gram beans are in the top 18% of foods as a source of vitamin B9, in the top 29% as a source of vitamin B1, and in the top 33% as a source of vitamin B2.
However, black gram completely lacks vitamin D and vitamin B12 and contains a very low level of vitamin C.
Black gram is abundant in minerals. These beans are in the top 7% of foods in potassium content and the top 8% for iron content. Black gram is also ample in magnesium, phosphorus, calcium, copper, zinc, and manganese. It has moderate amounts of selenium.
Black gram contains 7mg of sodium per 100g serving, meaning it is low in sodium.
Mungo beans also provide moderate levels of choline.
The glycemic index of black gram, which has been soaked for 12 hours, stored moist for 24 hours, and then steamed for another hour, is 43±10 (4).
Foods with glycemic index values lower than 55 are considered to fall in the low category. Despite the high starch content, this puts black gram bean in the low glycemic index foods category.
The dietary fiber of black gram beans has been researched to have a significant hypoglycemic effect in experimental animals, lowering blood glucose levels by increasing levels of enzymes that utilize glucose in the body (5).
Lentils, in general, are alkaline-forming foods. Beans can be a good alternative source of protein for people avoiding acidic foods, such as meat and dairy.
The potential renal acid load of foods demonstrates how much acid or base the given food produces inside the organism. The PRAL value for black gram beans has been calculated to be -3. This shows that black gram is an alkaline-producing food.
The average serving size for black gram beans is 130g for beans in sauce or canned in liquid and refried beans prepared, 90g for others prepared, and 35g for dry black gram beans (6).
The phytochemical analysis of black gram has revealed the bean to contain some amounts of flavonoids, saponins, tannins, alkaloids, vitamin C, and steroids, which give black gram its beneficial properties (7).
Antioxidants are compounds that arrest oxidation. Oxidation is a process that is at the foundation of many cardiovascular diseases. The aqueous methanol extract of black gram seeds has expressed antioxidant activities, due to phenolic acid, flavonoid, and condensed tannin contents (8).
The ethanol extract of Vigna mungo leaves has also been shown to possess antioxidant qualities (7).
Atherosclerosis leads to obstruction of blood vessels, which in turn can lead to heart attacks, strokes, and peripheral vascular disease. High levels of lipids in the blood serum have been proven to have a positive correlation with the development of atherosclerotic plaques.
Black gram brought down the cholesterol and triglycerides in the serum, liver, and aorta of rats fed a high fat, high cholesterol diet to normal levels. Some human studies also confirm black gram’s hypocholesterolemic and hypotriglyceridemic effects (9).
The protein fraction of black gram has also demonstrated regression of experimentally induced atherosclerosis (9).
There’s also a correlation between the intake of fiber and coronary heart disease. The dietary fiber in black gram protects against atherosclerosis and may reduce hypercholesterolemia (9).
Consumption of legumes, in general, has been associated with positive effects on diabetic profiles. Urad beans specifically express anti-diabetic properties by inhibiting certain enzymes that play a part in the process of the disease (8).
Saponins are phytochemicals found in black gram pulses that are also said to have antidiabetic effects (10).
Dietary fiber of black gram has been isolated as a neutral detergent fiber and has been shown to have the ability to lower glucose levels in the blood (9).
Methanolic extracts of Vigna mungo, both boiled and non-boiled, can be used to lower blood glucose. It can also serve as a potential therapeutic drug in the future. The possible mechanism for this effect is the seed’s ability to slow down the absorption of carbohydrates and inhibit digestion, due to fiber and uronic acid contents (11).
Black gram bean consumption has been studied to lower blood glucose, total serum, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels in diabetic experimental animals, indicating an additional antiatherogenic nature that can help prevent the development of complications in diabetic patients (12).
Dietary factors of the black gram can modify the metabolic activities of intestinal microflora, which plays a role in the conversion of bile acids and neutral sterols to reactive metabolites. These metabolites may potentially be co-carcinogens or carcinogens. The activity of microflora has been positively correlated with the incidence of colon cancer.
Black gram has been studied to potentially have the ability to prevent the formation of colon cancer, not only by modifying the microflora but also by binding the carcinogens that form from bile acids and preventing them from coming into contact with the intestinal mucosa (9).
Tannins and saponins are phytochemicals found in black gram are also reported to have possible anticarcinogenic effects (10).
Mung bean seeds have demonstrated antifungal activity due to the presence of hydrolytic enzymes. The antifungal action is exerted toward Fusarium solani, Fusarium oxysporum, Mycosphaerella arachidicola, Pythium aphanidermatum, and Sclerotium rolfsii (13).
Black gram may also possess antiviral effects on HIV by inhibiting the activity of the HIV-1 reverse transcriptase enzyme (14).
Methanol extract of the Vigna mungo pulses has shown effective antimicrobial activity against Klebsiella pneumonia, Bacillus subtilis, Enterococcus, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. It also expressed antifungal properties against Aspergillus niger and Candida albicans (15).
Anti Inflammatory Effects
Extract of black gram leaves has significantly inhibited the formation of paw edema in rats in experiments. The suggested mechanism for this anti-inflammatory effect is the black gram’s ability to inhibit the synthesis of lipid compounds that control inflammation, such as prostaglandins (16).
Downsides and Risks
There have been recorded cases of allergy to the black gram in several parts of the world. Black gram induces Th2 cell-mediated reactions (17), however, as with most food allergies, it is also mediated by Immunoglobulin E reactions (18).
Black gram can have cross-reactions with lentil, lima bean, and pea (19).
A specific protein allergen in black gram has been isolated and characterized.
Black gram allergy manifests its symptoms as most food allergies, ranging from mild to severe and even life-threatening. These include oral allergy syndrome (itching, swelling, redness, or tingling of the mouth area), asthma, rhinitis, rashes, swelling of the face, diarrhea, nausea, and in rare cases anaphylaxis.
Contrary to the prior statement about the anti-inflammatory qualities of black gram, other research has found that black gram has a proinflammatory effect and should be avoided on anti-inflammatory diets, such as a diet during rheumatoid arthritis. Instead, this research states that horse gram should be used as an anti-inflammatory agent (20).
Black Gram in Diets
Black gram is high in calories, containing 119 calories per one average serving. However, this should not immediately exclude black gram beans from weight-loss diets, as these beans are dense in nutrients, high in protein, dietary fiber, minerals, and vitamins, and low in unhealthy fats.
While Ayurveda quotes that consumption of black gram beans increases body weight, adding black gram to rice meals under the right conditions can help reduce body weight (21).
A keto diet recommends eating less than 20g of carbohydrates a day. One full serving of black gram contains about 21g of carbohydrates. Therefore, black gram is not a good option for a keto diet.
Black gram is rich in fiber, potassium, calcium, and magnesium while being relatively low in sodium. Black gram fits the DASH diet.
Green gram can also be a good choice for the DASH diet as it is lower in sodium than the black gram.
Black gram, due to high carbohydrate content, should be avoided during the first two phases of the Atkins diet. In phase 3 lentils, such as black gram can be slowly reintroduced and used throughout the fourth phase, however in moderation, whilst keeping in mind the net carbohydrate intake.
Lentils are popular in Mediterranean cuisine, so black gram fits into this diet.
Beans and legumes are often considered to not be paleo due to certain chemicals they contain, such as lectins and phytic acid, among other things (22). Therefore, black gram beans should be avoided on a paleo diet.
Vegan/ Vegetarian/ Pescetarian
Black gram is a plant-based product and fits into vegan, vegetarian, and pescetarian diets. Black gram is a good source of protein on these diets.
Black gram beans and black gram products do not contain gluten, and therefore, fit into gluten-free diets.
Black gram flour can also be an option for gluten-free flour.
Using lentils as a source of protein is allowed on the Dukan diet. In the Attack Phase and on Pure Protein days in the Cruise Phase, you can have two tablespoons of lentils of any kind each day, and on Protein and Vegetable days in Cruise or Consolidation, you can eat unlimited amounts of lentils (23).
As with most foods, you are not allowed to eat black gram beans during the fasting periods, but it is acceptable during the eating periods.
Low Fat & Low Calorie
Black gram is a relatively low-fat food, containing less than a gram of mostly healthy fats in a serving.
However, black gram is a high-calorie food with around 119 calories per average full serving and should not be used during a low-calorie diet.
Mungo beans contain a high content of dietary fiber, and other carbohydrates, such as starch. Therefore black gram beans are not advised to use on a low carb diet.
Black gram has been studied to suppress inflammatory processes and inhibit swelling in experimental animals (16).
However, studies are inconclusive about the anti-inflammatory qualities of the black gram, and some research advises avoiding these beans on an anti-inflammatory diet (20).
As lentils are high in fiber and black gram is hard to digest, it is strongly advised to avoid these foods during diarrhea and on the BRAT diet (24).
Cooking and Use
There are many ways to cook urad beans. Most commonly, these beans are soaked, rinsed, boiled for 30 to 45 minutes, and consumed whole.
Black gram can be dehusked and used to make dhal, a traditional dish that can have many different recipes.
Urad beans can be turned into a paste and used in the dosa dish.
Black gram is also commonly used in Indian cuisine to prepare other dishes, such as idli, which is a kind of savory rice cake, vada, and urad dal pachadi.
Black Gram Flour
Black gram flour or black gram powder is commonly used in South Indian cuisine for various dishes. Black gram or urad dal flour is produced by roasting the hulled and whole black gram beans and later grinding these beans into a fine powder.
The most popular food made by using black gram flour is the papad, also known as papar, papadam, or poppadom. Poppadoms are made by mixing black gram flour, salt, and spice powders. This dough is later rolled into a circular shape, roasted, and consumed either as a snack or as part of a meal.
Storing, Keeping, and Conservation
Storage conditions, such as moisture and temperature affect the quality of the grains. Black gram seeds should be stored in sealed containers, in a dark, dry, and cool place.
The safe storage guidelines chart and safe storage time model shows that the allowable safe storage of black gram is between moisture content and storage temperature ranges of 9 to 18% w.b. (wet basis) and 20 to 40°C (68 to 104°F), respectively.
The 15 and 18% black gram stored at 30°C, were safe up to 10 weeks of storage period. The higher moisture contents 15 and 18% at a high temperature of 40°C, were safe for up to 2 to 4 weeks, respectively (25).
In the history of the agriculture of black gram, multiple dozens of black gram varieties have been cultivated with varying nutritional, agricultural, and biological characteristics.
The cultivated varieties of the black gram are used in agriculture to decide the most suitable and favorable variety to grow in specific conditions. Varieties that can grow in all seasons include LBG-20 or Teja, T-9, LBG-623, WBG-26 or Usha, PBG-1, LBG-752, MBG-207, and PU 31 (26).
Some varieties may be chosen based on their biological abilities to resist diseases. Black gram varieties that are resistant to wilt include LBG-402, LBG-648, LBG-611, LBG-22, LBG-645, and LBG-685 (26).
LBG-17 is a powdery mildew-resistant variety of black gram beans. Varieties, such as PU-31, LBG-20, T-9, LBG 752 can resist the yellow mosaic virus. The LBG-648 variety is also Corynospora leaf spot and rust-resistant (26).
Some varieties, such as ADT 1 and ADT 2, are grown for their particularly high protein content (27).
The black gram plant is a warm-weather crop and requires a hot and humid climate for best growth, as it is a crop of a tropical region (28). The optimum temperature range for the growth of the black gram falls in the range of 27 to 30°C (80-86°F).
The black gram plant or Vigna mungo grows best in soil with a pH value of 6.5 to 7.8. Black gram can be grown on sandy or heavy cotton soils, however, it can not be grown in alkaline or saline soils (28).
Consumption and Production
India is the world's largest producer as well as consumer of the black gram. It produces about 1.5 to 1.9 million tons of urad annually from about 3.5 million hectares of area, with average productivity of 500kg per hectare. Black gram output accounts for about 10% of India's total pulse production. Import of black gram is mainly sourced from the neighboring country of Myanmar to meet domestic demand (29).
However black gram has spread around the world and can now be found in many tropical areas of Asia, Africa, Australia, and the USA (1).
Important nutritional characteristics for Black gram
Black gram Glycemic index (GI)
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NEW NUTRITION FACTS LABEL
Serving Size ______________
Black gram nutrition infographic
Mineral coverage chart
Mineral chart - relative view
Vitamin coverage chart
Vitamin chart - relative view
Protein quality breakdown
Fat type information
Fiber content ratio for Black gram
All nutrients for Black gram per 100g
|Nutrient||DV%||In TOP % of foods||Value||Comparison|
|Protein||60%||13%||25.21g||8.9 times more than Broccoli|
|Fats||3%||70%||1.64g||20.3 times less than Cheese|
|Carbs||20%||17%||58.99g||2.1 times more than Rice|
|Calories||17%||24%||341kcal||7.3 times more than Orange|
|Fiber||73%||8%||18.3g||7.6 times more than Orange|
|Calcium||14%||16%||138mg||1.1 times more than Milk|
|Iron||95%||8%||7.57mg||2.9 times more than Beef|
|Magnesium||64%||10%||267mg||1.9 times more than Almond|
|Phosphorus||54%||12%||379mg||2.1 times more than Chicken meat|
|Potassium||29%||7%||983mg||6.7 times more than Cucumber|
|Sodium||2%||76%||38mg||12.9 times less than White Bread|
|Zinc||30%||28%||3.35mg||1.9 times less than Beef|
|Copper||109%||17%||0.98mg||6.9 times more than Shiitake|
|Vitamin B1||23%||29%||0.27mg||Equal to Pea|
|Vitamin B2||20%||33%||0.25mg||2 times more than Avocado|
|Vitamin B3||9%||63%||1.45mg||6.6 times less than Turkey meat|
|Vitamin B5||18%||37%||0.91mg||1.2 times less than Sunflower seed|
|Vitamin B6||22%||42%||0.28mg||2.4 times more than Oat|
|Folate||54%||18%||216µg||3.5 times more than Brussels sprout|
|Tryptophan||0%||55%||0.26mg||1.2 times less than Chicken meat|
|Threonine||0%||62%||0.88mg||1.2 times more than Beef|
|Isoleucine||0%||48%||1.29mg||1.4 times more than Salmon|
|Leucine||0%||52%||2.09mg||1.2 times less than Tuna|
|Lysine||0%||63%||1.67mg||3.7 times more than Tofu|
|Methionine||0%||70%||0.37mg||3.8 times more than Quinoa|
|Phenylalanine||0%||42%||1.47mg||2.2 times more than Egg|
|Valine||0%||48%||1.42mg||1.4 times less than Soybean|
|Histidine||0%||59%||0.71mg||1.1 times less than Turkey meat|
|Saturated Fat||1%||81%||0.11g||51.7 times less than Beef|
|Monounsaturated Fat||0%||82%||0.09g||115.3 times less than Avocado|
|Polyunsaturated fat||0%||44%||1.07g||44 times less than Walnut|
The source of all the nutrient values on the page (excluding the main article and glycemic index text the sources for which are presented separately if present) is the USDA's FoodCentral. The exact link to the food presented on this page can be found below.