Horse Gram also called kulthi bean, hurali, Madras gram) is a legume native to tropical southern Asia, commonly grown for horse feed and occasionally for human consumption and in Ayurvedic cuisine. Horse gram is grown in Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa, Tamil Nadu, Uttarakhand, Jammu and Kashmir, and West Bengal in India, as well as in Malaysia, Sri Lanka, the West Indies, and elsewhere. It is consumed as a whole seed, as sprouts, or as whole meal in India, popular in many parts of India. Medical uses of these legumes have been discussed.
Horse Gram is a twining annual or perennial forming dense growth 30-60 cm high. Trifoliate leaves are 3-7 cm long and 2-4 cm wide. Leaflets are ovate, rounded at the base, pointed or slightly tapering, terminal leaflet symmetrical, laterals asymmetrical, 3.5-5 cm long, 2-4 cm broad, softly woolly on both surfaces, fimbriolate, paler beneath. Yellow or greenish-yellow flowers with violet blot on the standard are borne singly. Pods are 6-8 cm long and 4-8 mm wide with 6-7 seeds. Var. uniflorum is the cultivated annual form which has wider pods. It is drought resistant but cannot withstand waterlogging. Horse Gram is of Indian origin, it is now cultivated in Asia, Africa, West Indies and southern USA as a pulse crop and for fodder. The whole seeds of horsegram are generally utilized as cattle feed. However, it is consumed as a whole seed, as sprouts, or as whole meal in India.
Scientists from the Indian Institute of Chemical Technology have found that unprocessed raw horse gram seeds not only possess antihyperglycemic properties, but also have qualities which reduce insulin resistance. The scientists made a comparative analysis between horse gram seeds and their sprouts and found that the seeds have greater beneficial effects on the health of hyperglycemic individuals. The majority of antioxidant properties are confined to the seed coat and its removal would not do any good. Raw horse gram seed is rich in polyphenols, flavonoids, and proteins, major antioxidants present in fruits and other food materials. The seed has the ability to reduce postprandial hyperglycemia by slowing down carbohydrate digestion and reducing insulin resistance by inhibiting protein-tyrosine phosphatase 1 beta enzyme.