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Kulthi Dal: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects & More!

By Dr Ashok Pal +2 more


Kulthi dal, also known as horse gram, is a tropical and subtropical legume. Ayurveda and Sri Lankan traditional healers have known about its therapeutic properties for ages.

It’s primarily used as a tonic, astringent, and diuretic, and it’s also helpful for rheumatism, neuralgia, and other ailments. Natural phenols, primarily phenolic acids, flavonoids, and the primary antioxidants, are abundant in horse gram seeds.

Kulthi Dal

Kulthi Dal is classified as animal fodder, and its full potential as a component of the human diet is yet to be realised. It can be consumed as seeds, sprouts, or as a meal on its own.  

Nutritional Value of Kulthi Dal: 

Horse gram is a high-protein food (22-24%). Carbohydrates (57.2%), fats (1.1%), vitamins, minerals (3.2%), and a considerable amount of soluble fibres are all found in its seeds.

These tiny seeds are high in various minerals and micronutrients that may have potential benefit our health in multiple ways. It contains the following nutrients per 100 grams: 

Nutrient Content 
Protein 24 gm 
Carbohydrate 37 gm 
Fat 1.1 gm 
Calcium 0.3 gm 
Iron 72 gm 
Zinc 0.2 gm 
Table depicting the nutritional value of kulthi dal1

Properties of Kulthi Dal: 

These seeds’ extract may have

  • It may have anti-adipogenic (reduces deposition of fat) properties
  • It may show anti-hyperglycemic (lower blood sugar) activity
  • It might demonstrate anti-hypercholesterolemic (reduces cholesterol) properties.
  • It may show antioxidant activity 1 
  • It may posses anti-inflammation properties.2

Researchers believe that water from Kulthi dal might be useful in relieving Jaundice as it has the potential to increase the blood count.

Dr. Siddharth Gupta, B.A.M.S, M.D (Ayu)

Do You Know ?

  • Kulthi dal is a good source of iron, which is essential for the production of red blood cells. source: nutritionvalue.org
  • Regular consumption of kulthi dal can help improve kidney function and prevent the formation of kidney stones. source: ncbi
  • Kulthi dal is a good source of vitamin B6, which is important for brain development and function. source: nutritionvalue.org
  • Consuming kulthi dal can help reduce the risk of certain types of cancer due to its high antioxidant content. source: ncbi

Potential Uses of Kulthi Dal: 

Kulthi Dal may have enormous therapeutic potential, it must be explored as a source for the nutraceutical and food businesses.2 

Potential Uses of Kulthi Dal for the Management of Hypercholesteremia: 

Kulthi dal may reduce the extent of hypercholesteremia (high cholesterol deposition). It might have some effect on absorption of cholesterol and speeds up the catabolism (breakdown) of cholesterol into bile acid. The phenolic compounds present in the kulthi dal may also possess hypolipidemic and cholesterol-reducing activity by increasing the excretion of cholesterol in faeces.3 If you are suffering from high blood cholesterol, you need to adhere to doctor’s advice and treatment. Also, if you want to use kulthi dal for its properties, make sure to consult with your doctor.

Potential Uses of Anti-microbial Activity of Kulthi Dal:  

Extracts of kulthi dal may have shown anti-microbial activity against gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria. It might show a wide range of anti-microbial activity against Bacillus subtilis, Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa.4 

Potential Uses of Anti-inflammatory Activity of Kulthi Dal: 

Kulthi dal has phenolic groups which might have some effect on the human secretory phospholipase A2 enzyme, which causes inflammation. Hence, it might exhibit anti-inflammatory activity.5 This information is not sufficient as these studies are not conducted on humans. However, human trials are required to suggest the benefits of kulthi dal for wound healing. Therefore, it is important to first speak to your concerned doctors and only use kulthi dal as a herb.

Potential Uses of Anti-diabetic Activity of Kulthi Dal:  

Kulthi dal has a low glycaemic index, making it a useful dietary supplement for diabetic patients. It has an alpha-amylase inhibitor, which may help manage diabetes by decreasing serum glucose levels. The kulthi dal seeds may help in carbohydrate metabolism and thereby delay their digestion and absorption.6  However if you are suffering from diabetes, you need consult your healthcare provider before using Kulthi dal or any other herb to help with your symptoms.

Potential Uses of Antioxidant Activity of Kulthi Dal:  

Kulthi dal improves high fat-induced oxidative stress and may improve the activity of antioxidant enzymes like superoxide dismutase catalase along with an increase in glutathione concentrations. They may also exhibit high radical- scavenging activity.7  

Benefits of Anti-choliolithic Activity of Kulthi dal: 

Kulthi dal decreases the formation of the lithogenic bile and hence it may exhibits antilithogenic (cholestrol lowering) activity. It reduces the hyper-secretion of cholesterol into bile and increases bile acid output. It might also decreases hepatic (liver) fatty degradation.8  

Also Read: Ber Fruit – Uses, Benefits, Side Effects & Nutritional Value

Though there are studies that show the benefits of the kulthi dal in various conditions, but these are insufficient and there is a need for further studies to establish the true extent of the benefits of kulthi dal on human health.  

Did you know Kulthi dal might help with pimples and skin rashes? As a result of its anti-inflammatory property, the paste of Kulthi dal is believed to be potent medicine for pimples and skin rashes.

Dr. Rajeev Singh, BAMS

How to Use Kulthi Dal? 

Seeds are consumed as a whole (boiled), sprouts, in curry, or whole meals and are particularly popular in southern Indian regions.  

To improve the nutritional quality of kulthi dal, procedures like de-husking, germination, heating and roasting can be used.1  

You must consult a qualified doctor before taking any herbal supplements. Do not discontinue or replace an ongoing treatment of modern medicine with an ayurvedic/herbal preparation without consulting a qualified doctor.

Let us discover the ancient secret to losing weight and leading healthy life. From kidney stones to diabetes, let Kulthi dal be your trusted ally on the path to weight loss. Kulthi dal is believed to dissolve fat deposition.

Dr. Smita barode, B.A.M.S, M.S.

Side Effects of Kulthi Dal: 

Horse gram is highly nutritious and has several health benefits, but it also has a few potential side effects. 

  • Kulthi dal contains a carbohydrate type called raffinose oligosaccharide that can cause bloating and gas if eaten in large quantities.2,9    
  • Kulthi dal may cause allergic reactions in rare cases.10  
  • Kulthi dal contains anti-nutrients like phytic acid that inhibits the digestibility of proteins and reduce the bioavailability of minerals such as calcium, zinc, iron, and magnesium.2  

Kulthi dal in pregnancy! Yes, kulthi dal is believed to help in pregnancy. It has the potential to increase the blood count which can be beneficial for the mother as well as the baby.

Dr. Anuja Bodhare, B.A.M.S, M.D (Ayu)

Also Read: Chironji – Uses, Benefits, Side Effects & Nutritional Value

Precautions to Take With Kulthi Dal: 

It is suggested that, despite no significant reported side effects of kulthi dal, it may demonstrate substantial undesirable effects as medicinal products when we use it in higher doses or for a longer duration. A higher dosage of kulthi dal should only be taken under clinical supervision.2 

Interaction With Other Drugs: 

If taken in large quantities, kulthi dal may have an adverse effect when used as a medication. Also, unsupervised and unmonitored kulthi dal consumption by people with health conditions (like diabetes and liver diseases) may complicate or worsen some conditions. 

Kulthi dal may assist medications for diabetes in lowering blood sugar, but if taken in very high doses, blood sugar levels may go very low. One should take proper medical advice if they are interested in taking kulthi dal.6 

Also Read: Ragi – Uses, Benefits, Nutritional Value & Side Effects

Frequently Asked Questions: 

Where is kulthi dal native to? 

Kulthi dal is found in African countries, including Angola, Ethiopia, Kenya, Namibia, Somalia, South Africa, Tanzania, and Asian countries like Bhutan, China, India, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Taiwan.1 

What are the traditional uses of kulthi dal? 

Various components of the plant M. uniflorum have been utilised for thousands of years in medical systems such as Ayurveda, Siddha, and Unani to treat a variety of internal and exterior maladies.1 

What are the internal uses of kulthi dal? 

The decoction of dried seeds of kulthi dal is used in traditional medicine for having potential effect on amenorrhea, urolithiasis, bile stones, conjunctivitis, rheumatism, piles, diabetes mellitus, dysuria, colic and flatulence (with Asafoetida), oedema, and mumps, goitre, and phlegmatic diseases (with pepper).1  However, you must avoid using Kulthi dal for any disease conditions or properties without prior consultation with your doctor.

What are the external uses of kulthi dal? 

A roasted seed powder is applied all over the body to control excessive sweating. Seed poultices are also used to make people sweat. Seed paste is applied to the skin to enhance the skin complexion. Seed paste is also used to treat goitre and mumps.1  The studies available seem to be insufficient for to provide sufficient scientific evidence for these effects of kulthi dal. You must consult your doctor for better advice.

What is kulthi dal called in English?

Kulthi dal is known as horse gram legume in English. The biological name of kulthi dal is Macrotyloma uniflorum.1 

What are the different micronutrients found in kulthi dal? 

Among pulses, kulthi dal has the highest calcium concentration. Horse gram is poor in methionine and tryptophan as a legume, but it is a good source of iron and molybdenum.1 

Also Read: Sabudana – Uses, Benefits, Side Effects & Precautions


  1. Ranasinghe R, Ediriweera E. Medicinal and Nutritional Values of Macrotyloma uniflorum (Lam.) Verdc (Kulattha): A Conceptual Study. Glob J Pharmaceu Sci. 2017; 1(2) : 555559. Commons Attribution 4.0 License. DOI: 10.19080/GJPPS.2017.01.555559 
  1. Prasad, S. K., & Singh, M. K. (2015). Horse gram- an underutilized nutraceutical pulse crop: a review. Journal of food science and technology52(5), 2489–2499. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13197-014-1312-z. 
  1. Kumar D, Prashanthi G, Avasarala H, Banji D. Antihypercholesterolemic Effect ofMacrotyloma uniflorum(Lam.) Verdc (Fabaceae) Extract on High-Fat Diet-Induced Hypercholesterolemia in Sprague-Dawley Rats. Journal of Dietary Supplements. 2013;10(2):116-128. 
  1. Kawsar SMA, Seraj Uddin M, Huq E, Nahar N, Yasuhiro Ozeki (2008) Biological investigation of M. uniflorum Linn. extracts against some pathogens. Journal of Biological Sciences 8(6): 1051-1056. 
  1. S., G. A., N. M, V. Joshi, V. B. S., and D. K. K. ”HUMAN SECRETORY PHOSPHOLIPASE A2 (sPLA2) INHIBITION BY AQUEOUS EXTRACT OF MACROTYLOMA UNIFLORUM (SEED) AS AN ANTI-INFLAMMATORY ACTIVITY”. International Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, vol. 7, no. 13, Oct. 2015, pp. 217-22, https://innovareacademics.in/journals/index.php/ijpps/article/view/7868. 
  1. Laxmi H. Gupta, Sachin L. Badole, Subhash L. Bodhankar & Sushma G. Sabharwal (2011) Antidiabetic potential of α-amylase inhibitor from the seeds of Macrotyloma uniflorum in streptozotocin-nicotinamide-induced diabetic mice, Pharmaceutical Biology, 49:2, 182-189, DOI: 10.3109/13880209.2010.507633. 
  1. Perumal Siddhuraju; Sellamuthu Manian (2007). The antioxidant activity and free radical-scavenging capacity of dietary phenolic extracts from horse gram (Macrotyloma uniflorum (Lam.) Verdc.) seeds. , 105(3), 950–958. doi:10.1016/j.foodchem.2007.04.040. 
  1. Bigoniya, P., Bais, S., & Sirohi, B. (2014). The effect of Macrotyloma uniflorum seed on bile lithogenicity against diet induced cholelithiasis on mice. Ancient science of life33(4), 242–251. https://doi.org/10.4103/0257-7941.147433. 
  1. Mao B , Tang H , Gu J , Li D , Cui S , Zhao J , Zhang H , Chen W . In vitro fermentation of raffinose by the human gut bacteria. Food Funct. 2018 Nov 14;9(11):5824-5831. doi: 10.1039/c8fo01687a. PMID: 30357216. 
  1. Pramod SN, Krishnakantha TP, Venkatesh YP. Effect of horse gram lectin (Dolichos biflorus agglutinin) on degranulation of mast cells and basophils of atopic subjects: identification as an allergen. Int Immunopharmacol. 2006 Nov;6(11):1714-22. doi: 10.1016/j.intimp.2006.07.006. Epub 2006 Aug 4. PMID: 16979126. 

Also Read: Toor Dal – Uses, Benefits, Nutritional Value & Side Effects


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