What are the Health Benefits of Horse gram?

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Eating a healthy diet is getting more popular these days specially with the rise in obesity. The USDA1 guidelines to a healthy diet suggests whole grains, beans or legumes, fresh fruits and vegetables, milk, protein, preferably skim or low fat. One of the best ways to get fiber into our diet is to eat whole grains. Fiber is of two types, soluble and insoluble.

Eating a healthy diet is getting more popular these days specially with the rise in obesity. The USDA1 guidelines to a healthy diet suggests whole grains, beans or legumes, fresh fruits and vegetables, milk, protein, preferably skim or low fat. One of the best ways to get fiber into our diet is to eat whole grains. Fiber is of two types, soluble and insoluble.

Eating a healthy diet is getting more popular these days specially with the rise in obesity. The USDA1 guidelines to a healthy diet suggests whole grains, beans or legumes, fresh fruits and vegetables, milk, protein, preferably skim or low fat. One of the best ways to get fiber into our diet is to eat whole grains. Fiber is of two types, soluble and insoluble. Whole grains have soluble fiber and is extremely useful in reducing cholesterol levels in the body. One of the legumes that is not very well known but is quite nutritious is the Horse Gram. It belongs to the family of Legumes and has a high protein content. Horse gram was considered Horse fodder and its full potential as part of the human diet has not been exploited completely. It is mostly grown in Asia and quite common on the Indian menu. Horse gram is high in protein and iron which makes it a wholesome food that should be added to our diet on a regular basis.


What is Horse Gram?

Horse gram  is scientifically known as Macrotyloma uniflorum. It also goes by the name Dolichos biflorus. Due to a lot of confusion in the Dolichos category, the right name for Horse gram scientifically is Macrotyloma uniflorum. According to the USDA database both the names Macrotyloma uniflorum and Dolichos biflorus mean the same Horse gram

It is a dark brown lentil which round and flattened in shape. Horse gram is known to have many therapeutic effects but not scientifically proven though it has been recommended in ayurvedic  medicine to treat renal stones, piles, edema etc. It is rich in iron, calcium molybdenum, polyphenols which have high antioxidant capacity, and hemagluttinin which is a substance found in antibodies and autoimmune functions.


What is the Classification of Horse Gram ?

  • Kingdom Plantae – Plants
  • Subkingdom Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
  • Superdivision Spermatophyta – Seed plants
  • Division Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
  • Class Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
  • Subclass- Rosidae
  • Order- Fabales
  • Family Fabaceae – Pea family
  • Genus Macrotyloma (Wight & Arn.) Verdc. – macrotyloma
  • Species Macrotyloma uniflorum (Lam.) Verdc. – 



What are the Benefits of Horse gram?

Horse gram is known by different names all over the world, it is called, Kollu in South India, Cowpea in English, Kulti in Hindi, Habbul Kulth in Arabic, Kulatha Kalai in Sanskrit, Bian Dou in Chinese, Bonnavista Bean and also Hyacinth Bean.  The health benefits of horse gram are being recognized light  in the western world recently but has been known for its medicinal purposes by Indian Ayurvedic Vaidyas since centuries.

  • It is known for its excellent diuretic and astringent .
  • Ayurveda uses horse gram to treat a variety of conditions ranging from rheumatism to worm removal, treating Conjuctivitis and piles.
  • Another great benefit of horse gram is its use in extracting phlegm. When suffering with cough, phlegm is a hard thing to get rid of. Taking horse gram water can eliminate the phlegm and give relief.
  • Taking horse gram powder  in a little bit of water regularly, helps in treating and controlling skin rashesand boils.
  • Horse gram liquid is also used to regulate fever.
  • It has phenols which helps in reducing weight
  • Horse gram also helps in lowering cholesterol levels
  • Lipids extracted from horse gram have shown to help with peptic ulcer in an study related rats.
  • It also helps in reducing flatulence



Is Horse gram helpful in treating menstrual problems?

Horse gram is considered to have curative properties in helping with menstruation problems. Specially women with irregular periods and excess bleeding can benefit by taking horse gram water regularly or adding horse gram soup or sprouts to your daily diet. It is recommended in stopping heavy bleeding after pregnancy. In Ayurvedic medicine, women are recommended to take 1 teaspoon of horse gram powder every morning.



Does Horse gram help in eliminating Kidney Stones?

Kidney stones are a painful condition and caused due to deposits of Oxalates. Taking a diet with low amounts of calcium and phosphorus is recommended if you have kidney stones. Horse gram is recommended for treating kidney stones in India.  Soak about 4 teaspoons of Horse gram in approximately 1.5 cups of water overnight and drink the water in the water on an empty stomach the next morning. You can add the same amount of water to the  horse gram again and let it soak and can drink the water in the afternoon and repeat this and drink in the evening as well.  Taking horse gram water this way for 2-3 months will help in completely eliminating the kidney stones. The horse gram water has diuretic properties  and  dissolves the kidney stones. Diuretics increase the elimination of water from the body. 



How to grow Horse Gram Sprouts?

One way to eat Horse gram is in the form of Sprouts. You can add the Horse gram sprouts to salads or eat the sprouts by themselves by adding a little salt, cumin, lemon, finely minced onions and cilantro. It is fairly easy to grow sprouts from any legumes. Soak the desired amount of Horse gram in a wide bowl completely submerged in water. Once the Horse gram is soft when you bite on the legume, drain the water, rinse and put them in a very thin cotton cloth, a cheese cloth works the best. Keep the cloth damp and put it away in a dark place overnight. Usually by the end of the second day you will see small sprouts coming up. You can grow the sprouts to whatever length you desire and then add to them any dish. Make sure the seeds are soaked well and have enough air if you are putting them in a jar(keep the lid a slightly open). Don't let the seeds ferment bu soaking them too long. Sprouts are high in Vitamin A, Thiamine, vitamin C, iron and potassium. Sprouting them also helps in reducing the production of gas which helps in digesting them much better than the dried horse gram.


Are there any harmful side effects to eating Horse gram?

  • Horse gram can cause an excess of bile production 
  • It should not be eaten by pregnant women
  • People suffering with tuberculosis and plethora should avoid horse gram


1. Reference : USDA, NRCS. 2011. The PLANTS Database (http://plants.usda.gov, 19 April 2011). National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA.

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good post !!
but i wanna know whether i do it right...
i boil the horse gram and drink that broth.....
will that reduce my fat levels!?..i'm overweight already.

Based on my experience, just the extract of horse grams (by boiling the horse grams in water for 25 - 30 mins) has been helpful in loosing weight. Even if you eat the seeds (with the broth), it will be equivalent to you taking lentils in your soup. Coupled with exercise and balanced diet, the horse gram broth alone (or with seeds) should help you loose weight in a healthy manner. Good luck

Make to manage your daily calorie consumption to be around 2,000 calories (this is the recommended level for adults)

Any good ideas for preparing horse gram, such that it is longer lasting and can be had over a longer period of times (i.e., prepare once for a full week)?

This is a great question, and we are glad you asked. Given all the related health benefits of horse gram, it makes sense to eat horse gram on a daily basis. In order to make it low maintenance effort on your part, the recipe below provide a way to cook it once, freeze it, and heat and eat as needed

"Edamame" style horse gram recipe:
-> Horse Gram: 2 cups
-> Sea salt (granulated)

Steps to be followed:
1) Place horse grams in a vessel and add 3 cups of water, so that the horse grams are fully immersed in the water
2) Add regular salt to the water sufficient for your taste
3) Allow the water to come to a boil, then cover it with a lid and let it simmer for 25 to 30 mins, till the horse grams are cooked. You can test that by picking one out of the vessel with a spoon and squeezing it between your fingers. If it gets soft, then they are cooked
4) At that point, strain all the water taking care to not let any of the grams fall out
5) Take a scoop of the hot grams and add a dash of sea salt and serve
6) The rest of the cooked grams, stash them away in the refrigerator. And anytime you need some of the horse grams, take them out of the refrigerator, warm them for 45 to 60 seconds, and add some salt and you are read to go!!

Tastes much better than Edamame and much healthier as well

Tried this recipe, which was very simple and easy, and took me less than 30 mins to complete. More importantly, once I had cooked it once, I have been able to snack on the health grams for the last couple of weeks without having to cook again. All I had to do was microwave and eat

This also reminded me of a recipe that my grandmother used to make quite a while back. Wanted to share it with your readers

She used to call the recipe "Jazzed up horse grams"

- 2 Cups boiled horse grams (process same as in above recipe)
- 1 medium sized onion (finely chopped)
- 1/2 tomato finely chopped
- 1/2 lemon
- 2 tsp oil
- 2 green chillies (finely chopped)
- 10 pepper corns (crushed)
- 1/2 tsp red chilly powder
- 1 tsp cumin and mustard seeds

Steps for the recipe:
1) Take a pan and pour 2 tsp of oil and let it heat up for 2-3 minutes on medium heat
2) Add 1 tsp of cumin and mustard seed mix and let them saute for 30 secs
3) Add the chopped onion and green chillies, and saute for a minute. If you prefer, you can wait till the onions turn a bit brown
4) Add the tomatoes and saute for 2-3 mins
5) Then add the horse gram, crushed pepper corns, red chilli powder, salt to taste and saute for 5 mins while intermittently mixing the ingredients
6) 30 secs before turning off the heat, add the lemon juice and mix

Serve it for yourself and for your friends. They won't even know that something this healthy can taste this good

Are there any good Indian recipes for Horse Gram?

Here is an Indian recipe for "Horse Gram spicy soup" or Ulava Charu (Telugu) or Kollu Rasam (Tamil)
-> Horse Gram: 1/2 Cup
-> Tomatoes: 1 ripe tomato
-> Tamarind paste: 2 to 3 tbsp (depending on your sour preference)
-> Coriander leaves: 10 to 15 strands (finely chopped)
-> Turmeric: 1 tsp
-> Salt: 2 to 3 tbsp

To roast and ground (in a pestle or food processor)
-> Black pepper corns: 10 or 12
-> Coriander seeds: 2 to 3 tbsp
-> Cumin seeds: 2 to 3 tbsp

To temper or baghar or talimpu:
-> Peanut oil (or canola or saffola): 2 tbsp
-> Mustard seeds, cumin seeds mix: 1 tsp
-> Dried red chillies: 2 or 3 full ones
-> Curry leaves: 10
-> Heeng (Asafoetida): 1 pinch
-> Crushed garlic

Steps for preparing the Soup:
1) Place the horse gram in a bowl and fill it water so that water level is over the horse grams. Add turmeric and salt to the water, and let it soak overnight. But if you in a rush, you can skip that step, and jump right to place the horse gram and water mix in the steam cooker and cooking it till you get at least 3 whistles. This step takes the longest time
2) Turn off the heat, and let the cooker rest for 15 mins. Then take off the steam weight and let all the steam out before opening the lid. Then take a ladle (or stirrer) to make the horse gram into nice pulp mixed with the water, salt, and turmeric
3) While the cooker is on the stove, dry roast the pepper corns, cumin and coriander seeds all together. Once they get a bit brown or dark, take them off the heat and powder using a pestle/ mortar or dry food processor. This mix give you the nice spicy taste
4) Take a steel bowl, place it on the stove and add tempering oil to it. As the oil heats up add mustard, cumin seeds, red chillies, curry leaves, and crushed garlic in that order, giving each of the ingredients 30 secs to saute. Then add heeng to the oil, and after about 30 secs, add tomatoes and saute for a 2 to 3 mins.
5) To the saute, add the horse gram pulp (from step 2), tamarind paste, 1 cup of water, and bring it to a boil. Then add the roasted masala powder (from step 3) and let it all simmer for 5 mins
6) Right before taking the soup off the stove and serving it, add the chopped cilantro and over the bowl with a lid, so that the flavors stay trapped in the soup while it is hot
7) Shut off the heat, let it rest for a couple of minutes, and then you are ready to serve and enjoy yummy horse gram soup!!

Thank for posting this recipe. I am not usually a big fan of soups because they are typically very bland, but this recipe was spicy and tangy to my taste. My husband love it as well!! Thanks for the recommendation

My mom had ureteric calculus meaning stones just below ur kidney and d pain is more severe than labour pains. Someone suggested drinking water boiled with horse gram . She followed it regularly and drank only that water. Repeat ultrasound after a week showed no stones and it was a miracle

Thank you 4 the info...!! :)

Very informative

thank u.......

Really good to read.