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Pulses are defined as annual leguminous crops that yield around 12 grains/seeds/fruits of variable sizes, shapes and color.Food and Agricultural Organization names the crop as ‘Pulse’ because these are harvested only for their dry grains. However, this excludes green beans and green peas which are counted under vegetable crop. Also crops grown for oil extraction like- soy beans and ground nuts- and sowing like -clovers and alfalfa -are excluded from ‘pulse’ category.Pulses are important for increasing both - health of a human being and quality of the soil. As food crops they are high in protein and essential amino acid content, and leguminous crops they play a key role in the rotation of crops to fix nitrogen content in the soil. Pulses have 20 to 25% protein by weight, which is a double the protein content in wheat and three times that of rice, and this protein is highly digestible also. For this reason, pulses are sometimes called "poor man's meat". Therefore grains, as they are deficient in lysine, are consumed along with pulses.
India is the world's largest producer, supplier and the largest consumer of pulses. Canada, Myanmar, Australia and the United States are also significant exporters. Common examples of such combinations are dal with rice by Indians, and beans with corn tortillas, tofu with rice, and peanut butter with wheat bread (as sandwiches) in several other cultures, including Americans.As Pulses have such high quality of nutritional value they give immense health advantages for consumers. Studies have proved that consumption of pulses reduce the threat of coronary heart disease.Pulses are generally known as ‘Dal’ in India. Whole pulses are known as sabūt dals and split pulses as dhuli dals. The hulling of a pulse is intended to improve digestibility and palatability, but the milling of whole grains into refined grains, affects the nutrition provided by the dish, reducing dietary fiber content. Pulses with their outer hull intact are also quite popular in India and Pakistan as the main cuisine. Over 50 different varieties of pulses are known in India and Pakistan.