Pulses are an excellent source of protein, calcium, potassium, iron, the B vitamins and niacin. Dried beans should never be eaten raw because of the poisons that they contain, Kidney beans contain a toxin called haemagglutinin which is only destroyed by soaking for at least eight hours followed by fast boiling for ten minutes to fifteen minutes, and soya beans contain a trypsin-inhibitor which needs soaking for twelve hours, a rapid boil for one hour for its destruction, and simmering for a further two hours. The soaking water should be discarded. A pressure cooker is very useful to reduce the cooking times for these pulses.
Only mung beans, split peas and lentils can be cooked without first soaking, but they still need boiling for forty minutes.
Microwave and slow-cookers are not suitable for pulses unless they have been soaked and vigorously boiled for ten minutes first.
Pulses should always be cooked in unsalted water - the salt makes them tough.
Pulses do not keep indefinitely, and are far better fresh.
Sprouting beans produce vitamin C and alter and improve the balance of nutrients, so that they can be considered as a vegetable. Good sprouting beans are aduki, whole lentils, mung beans and chick peas.
Gram flour is produced by grinding a variety of beans. Mung bean and lentil flours are the most easily digested.
Pulses often cause digestive problems. The amount that a person can eat at a meal and digest in comfort is very limited. One ounce of dried pulses per day will be the limit for most people. Dried pulses fit in best as a meal with vegetables alone, or as part of a protein meal. Some people find soya beans particularly indigestible and bitter.