Lentils are legumes shaped small, round and come in many colors that may range from yellow to green and brown to black. A purely vegetarian source of food, lentils are quite nutritious and not high on the price. They are not easily perishable and can be stored safely and thus can be used any time of the year. It is eaten and liked by many people throughout the world as many are aware of benefits of lentils as food. Lentils are not heavy when consumed and many bodybuilders who include them in their diet also reserve a place for lentils that shows how nutritious lentils are.
There are many varieties of lentils produced around the world, particularly in Asia. Benefits of lentils are not limited to any one particular lentil. All the different types of lentils come loaded with minerals, nutrients, and vitamins. Lentils can be prepared like a puree or in a solid way with less water. The general lentils that are consumed by individuals and found in retail stores include:
They are a bit bigger than other lentils in size and also flatter than others. They do not lose their flavor and the shape remains as it is even after cooking.
These lentils are sweet and have the interiors colored reddish. They break down quickly while cooking and very popular for liquid or puree kind of dishes served with rice.
red lentil is yellow lentils that have been unshelled and split. They are light red to orange in color and small in size. They are quick to cook and make a very good puree when cooked.
They are quick to cook and do not smoothen up much retaining the shape. Unlike traditional beans that need to be soaked before cooking, brown lentils need to be soaked in water.
To cook lentils, place the lentils in a pan and add 2 cups of water. Boil the ingredients, reducing the heat and bring it to desired tenderness. A cup of lentils upon cooking will turn into 2 after swelling as they are soaked in water and grow in size.
Lentils are purchased dry and they have a long shelf life and can be used anytime as needed, provided they are stored properly in an airtight container to keep them away from insects and moisture.
There are many benefits of lentils as Lentils have a good amount of protein in them come in top three legumes loaded with protein. It is inexpensive; it’s a natural choice for people who live in developing countries and those who stay away from meat. It should be, anyhow, ensured that lentils be consumed with grains like rice or wheat as lentils do not provide complete protein and need to be complemented with other food to get all essential amino acids.
Let us know some of the benefits of lentils associated with it that is useful for one and all:
They are high in dietary fiber. They come with benefits like:
For a good bowel health, insoluble fiber is a must.
In pulses, the soluble fiber lowers blood cholesterol.
High amylase content can be found in pulses.
A cooked cup of lentils that weighs 100 grams will produce:
-9 grams of protein
-0.4 grams of fat. This makes it an ideal choice for those who want to watch their weight and are hoping to shed of few kilos. It also makes you feel full.
-2 milligrams of sodium
-369 milligrams of potassium
-20 grams of carbs. Out of these 20, 8 grams are dietary fiber and sugar 1.8 grams.
Other nutrients present in lentils include:
Vitamin A, vitamin C, Iron, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, Calcium, and magnesium.
Protein in lentils:
A cup of lentils will provide us with 18 grams of protein. It should be however noted that lentils should be complemented with rice to get a complete protein.
Blood sugar regulation:
Type 2 diabetes is affecting many individuals where the body is incapable of producing the insulin. So to treat type 2 diabetes, one has to take proper diet, start exercising, take medications and insulin therapies.
Lentils, being high in fiber solubility help in stabilizing blood sugar by decreasing glucose, insulin and plasma.
They place themselves low on the index of glycemic indicating that food is digested slowly without a spike in blood sugar. It is therefore suggested to lentils daily to lower the A1C levels of hemoglobin.
Aid in digestion:
It has been recommended to include high fiber of 40% in our daily diets to keep the regularity of bowel movements and declining constipation. Fibre also pushes toxins out of the body. Lentil is should be included in the diet to get benefits of lentils.
Elevates the health of Brain:
Folate is a complex vitamin B that is one of the essential nutrients to maintain our health. It is said that folate also supports the nervous system. Folate deficiency could lead to defects in birth and disorders in the blood.
Lentils contain the highest amount of folate and serve you with 90 percent of daily requirement in a single serving. Lentils are not heavy on the stomach and therefore can be easily blended in your diet.
Keeps free radicals away:
Normal metabolic processes could result in free radicals and other reasons may be smoking and x-ray exposure. One of the components of lentils is manganese that comes under antioxidant enzymes and named as manganese superoxide dismutase that is said to lower the free radical levels that in turn keeps away the risk of cancers.
Reduces the risk of atherosclerosis:
A disease formed when plaque forms inside arteries are called atherosclerosis. Arteries are blood vessels that carry oxygen-rich blood to the heart. It is said that intake of lentils may help reduce the possibilities of developing atherosclerosis as lentils provide antioxidants. As we have seen earlier, antioxidants neutralize the harmful free radicals.
A healthy nervous system:
Vitamins and minerals are important for the brain to function. Vitamins and minerals are considered as micronutrients. Studies suggest that vitamins and minerals in lentils are good for proper functioning of the brain. This throws light on one of the many benefits of lentils.
Rich iron content:
One of the benefits of lentils, is that they contain high amounts of iron. Iron is a must for the body to produce optimum hemoglobin. A cup of lentils that weighs 200 grams produces 36 percent of the daily recommended iron. Lentils can also be considered a rich nonmeat source of iron. Lentils should be eaten with food rich in vitamin C for good absorption. Pepper is rich in vitamin C.
When there is a deficiency of iron, fatigue sets in. lack of Iron in diet can cause persistent fatigue. People aged 18 and 50 are more prone to iron deficiency that may make them feel less energetic. Lentils are a very rich and good source of iron. A cup of cooked lentils provides us with one-third of daily iron needs.
Lentils are famous for mineral – potassium, that’s considered to be a substitute for sodium to perform an electrolytic activity. Most of the diseases are linked to higher levels of sodium. Potassium also serves the bodily organs for outstanding functioning.
Help prevent rapid aging:
Red lentils are considered as the anti-aging foods among the list of best items. Red lentils are a powerhouse of fiber, protein and other essential nutrients that boosts the immunity of the human body. With an abundance of anti-oxidants in the red lentils, it helps minimize tissue and cell damage. So this helps once stay young.
Many vitamins that include vitamin B3 are found in good quantities in lentils. These vitamins play a vital role in enhancing the digestive system and also the nervous system.
Vitamin B3 also offers benefits like cholesterol control and keeps Alzheimer’s disease, cataract at bay by reducing their chances.
Vitamins like vitamin A, vitamin C, Vitamin E and copper, zinc play important role in keeping eyes healthy.
Strong bones and teeth:
Red lentils are a good source of calcium, phosphorous and magnesium. All of them are important for the growth of strong and healthy bones and teeth with their development too.
Two main causes that increase heart-related issues are high blood pressure and cholesterol. Fibre is found in ample quantity in red lentils which helps in reducing cholesterol while potassium takes care in diluting the high blood pressure levels.
A diet rich in lentils helps in optimizing the flow of blood and safeguards you from diseases those attack your heart. High levels of homocysteine, an amino acid in the blood may damage arteries. Consumption of red lentils provides folate supply to the body that reduces homocysteine levels in the body.
Red lentils are rich in folate, fiber and vitamin B that reduce inflammation. Many diseases are associated with inflammation like heart disease and cancer. Red lentils help in reducing inflammation and therefore keep the diseases too at distance.
Red lentils are a rich source of zinc, Vitamin B6, and iron. All these are known to be good for improving the immune system. These nutrients increase the white blood cell count those are known to defend the body against the pathogens and germs those relate to diseases.
Red lentils also contain isoflavones, known to be phytonutrients have strong antioxidant properties in them helping boost with your immunity.
Many people complain about hair problems nowadays. Hair gets its structure from proteins known as keratin. Without keratin, hair grows more slowly. The individual strands grow weekly.
Lentil being rich in iron transports oxygen to hair follicles which is a must for growth and strength of hair. Folic acid also improves hair growth by transporting from blood to the hair follicles. Protein in the lentils is also important for cell building. Good circulation to the scalp and hair follicles helps in faster cell renewal and hair that is strong.
If you feel gassy after eating lentils it is due to the high starch content in it that is not easily digested and therefore should be broken down by intestinal bacteria that gives carbon dioxide and Hydrogen. This can be overcome by cooking lentils for a longer duration slowly. Plenty of liquids should be consumed to avoid constipation.
Soaking lentils releases phytic acid that may stop the absorption of minerals.
So, in a nutshell, we now know:
-Lentils are easy to prepare and quite delicious too.
-It is a very nutritious ingredient.
-It helps in protecting the heart and is good for overall health as claimed by studies and evidence.
-It is economical and a decent source of protein.
Lentils can be added to any soup for extra nutrients and fiber. In soup, they tend to be even more delicious. They can be precooked and stored in the refrigerator for a quick meal. Lentils can be used in place of beans in any recipe as the cooking style of both are almost same. Nowadays lentils like moong are also available in the form of readymade snacks.
It can be said that lentils are a great alternative to meat and animal-based food when it comes to either protein, carb or other important nutrients. It is also easy to incorporate these meatless meals in your daily diet and gain all the benefits of lentils.