Lentils are edible seeds from the legume family. They are small, like a bean, and come in different colors including red, brown, black, and green. They grow in pods. They also contain high levels of protein and fiber.
Lentils are a type of food that is easy to make and does not cost a lot of money, but is still a good source of protein for people. During World War II lentils became popular in America as a low cost high protein meat substitute.
Lentils are a common food staple in many countries, but they are most commonly produced in Canada.
This article provides information on lentils, their nutritional value and health benefits, as well as how to cook them.
Different Types of Lentils
Lentils are often categorized by their color, which can range from yellow and red to green, brown, or black. Here are some of the most common lentil types:
- Brown – These are the most widely eaten type. Beans have a rustic taste, maintain their structure while being cooked, and are perfect for dishes like stew and soup.
- Puy – These come from the French region Le Puy. Puy lentils are small, mottled, slate-gray/green color.
- Green – Green lentils are larger than the mottled puy lentils. They are also a less expensive options.T
- Yellow and Red – These lentils are split and cook quickly. Masoor dal are great for making dal, they have a sweet and nutty flavor.
- Beluga – The small, black lentils look very similar to caviar. They make a great base for warm salads.
There are many different types of lentils that are popular all over the world.
Health Benefits of Lentils
Eating all kinds of plant-based foods is linked with a lower risk of many health problems that are related to lifestyle.
People who eat more vegetables and fruits have a lower chance of dying from cardiovascular disease, according to a 2019 study from the Journal of the American Heart Association. The study looked at data from over 13,000 people and found that those who ate the most healthful plant-based foods were 32% less likely to die from cardiovascular disease and 25% less likely to die from all causes.
Plant-based foods are a great source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals, and they may contain antioxidant properties. The purpose of antioxidants is to counteract the effects of free radicals, which are believed to cause inflammation and cancer.
1. Heart Health
Lentils are rich in fiber, folic acid, and potassium, as well as vitamins and minerals. These nutrients all support heart health. The AHA found that increased fiber intake can help to lower levels of LDL cholesterol.
Fiber has been linked to a lower incidence of cardiovascular disease, and it might also slow the progression of the disease in people who are at high risk.
Essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber can be found in lentils. Lentils are a good source of vegetarian protein and can be used as a meat replacement in meals. If a person replaces meat in their diet with a high fiber food, such as lentils, they will decrease their risk of heart disease.
The potassium, calcium, and magnesium found in lentils have been shown to lower blood pressure. DASH eating plan emphasizes on foods high in minerals. This diet, recommended by the NHLBI, can help lower blood pressure.
Lentils are an excellent source of potassium, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). A lower risk of heart disease has been associated with eating lentils. This is because lentils have a positive effect on several risk factors.
An 8-week study conducted with 39 participants who were obese or overweight and had type 2 diabetes found that HDL (good) cholesterol levels increased when they ate 1/3 cup (60 grams) of lentils each day. In addition, the study found that the levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides significantly decreased.
Lentils may also help lower your blood pressure. A study found that rats who ate lentils had a greater decrease in blood pressure than those who ate peas, chickpeas, or beans.
Proteins in lentils can block angiotensin I-converting enzyme, which would normally make blood vessels constrict and increase blood pressure.
High levels of homocysteine in your blood can increase your risk of heart disease. Your dietary folate intake affects how much of these are in your body. Lentils are rich in folate, which may help to prevent homocysteine from building up in the body.
If you are overweight or obese, you are more likely to develop heart disease. Eating lentils could help you to eat less overall, which might help with weight loss or staying at a healthy weight. Lentils are satisfying and seem to help manage blood sugar levels.
Lentils provide a large amount of folate. Folate is a nutrient that is important for pregnant women to take in order to prevent birth defects of the brain and spine in their babies.
Vitamin C can also help reduce the risk of gestational diabetes. The study found that pregnant women who took more folate during pregnancy were less likely to develop gestational diabetes.
The CDC recommends that females of childbearing age consume at least 400mcg of folate or folic acid every day. The CDC recommends that women consume more calories during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Lentils also provide selenium. Selenium may decrease the rates that tumors grow. It has been shown that adaptogens may help to improve a person’s immune response to infection by stimulating the production of T cells. T cells kill disease.
The NIH reports that selenium could potentially lower the rates of colorectal, prostate, lung, bladder, skin, esophageal, and gastric cancers. Although some studies have found that selenium might help prevent cancer, more research is needed to be sure.
According to a 2019 meta-analysis of 405 articles, fiber may play a role in reducing the risk of colorectal cancer.
4. Fighting Fatigue
Iron deficiency is a common cause of fatigue. If you do not consume enough iron in your diet, your body will not have enough energy. There are two types of iron: heme and nonheme.
Iron that is not from animal sources is known as nonheme iron, and plants such as lentils are a good way to get this nutrient. Meat and fish provide heme iron.
Iron is an essential mineral for human health, and nonheme iron is the form of iron found in plant foods. Nonheme iron is not as easily absorbed by the body as heme iron, which is found in animal foods, but it is still an important source of iron for people who do not eat meat. The body cannot as easily absorb nonheme iron as it can heme iron.
You should try eating foods that are rich in vitamin C along with this supplement, as it will improve absorption.
5. Digestion, Regularity, and Satiety
Fiber is important for weight loss because it add bulk to your digestive system. Dietary fiber can help you feel fuller and reduce your appetite. This can reduce a person’s overall calorie intake.
The fiber in lentils helps keep the digestive tract healthy, which prevents constipation and promotes regular bowel movements.
The protein in lentils can help you feel full longer. This can help curb your appetite and help you maintain a healthy weight.
6. Polyphenols in Lentils may have Powerful Health Benefits
Lentils are a good source of polyphenols, a type of phytochemical that has many health benefits. Some of the polyphenols in lentils, such as procyanidin and flavanols, have been shown to have strong antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and neuroprotective effects.
The polyphenols in lentils were able to stop cancer cell growth when tested in the lab, especially on cancerous skin cells. Though the mechanism is not yet understood, the polyphenols in lentils may also help improve blood sugar levels.
One animal study found that consuming lentils lowered blood sugar levels and that the benefits were not solely due to the carb, protein, or fat content.
It’s interesting to note that the polyphenols in lentils don’t appear to lose their health properties after being cooked.
Therefore, the actual effect of capsaicin on humans is yet to be determined. Capsaicin’s effect on humans is yet to be determined, although results from laboratory and animal studies are available. More research on humans is needed to determine the health benefits of this product.
Lentils are a healthy food because they contain polyphenols. Polyphenols are antioxidants and anti-inflammatories, and they may help to prevent cancer.
Lentils are a highly nutritious food. They are rich in minerals, protein, and fiber.
100 grams (g) of cooked lentils contains:
- 116 calories (kcal)
- 9.02 g of protein
- 0.38 g of fat
- 20.13 g of carbohydrates, including 7.9 g of fiber and 1.8 g of sugar
Lentils also provide the following essential nutrients:
Lentils are also a source of:
- pantothenic acid
People can eat brown, green, or red lentils in many different ways.
- Brown lentils are the cheapest and soften the most upon cooking. They work best in soups and stews.
- Green lentils have a nuttier flavor. They stay firm when cooked and make good salad or taco toppers.
- Red lentils have a milder taste. They are great for bulking out Indian dals and purees and are also soft when cooked.
Unlike dried beans, lentils do not require soaking. Make sure to rinse the lentils to get rid of any dirt, and get rid of any that are damaged or have foreign material.
People can include lentils in their diet in the following simple and tasty ways:
- Add lentils to any soup or stew recipe for extra nutrients and fiber.
- Precook lentils, and keep them in the refrigerator for a quick protein source.
- Use lentils instead of beans in any recipe.
- Replace half the meat in a Bolognese sauce or lasagna with red lentils.
- Make a lentil dip by smashing cooked lentils with a fork and adding garlic, onion, chili powder, and chopped tomatoes.
- Look out for new snacks and foods, such as lentil based crackers or chips and lentil pasta.
Lentils contain substances that can interfere with the absorption of other nutrients. These substances are called antinutrients. Antinutrients may impair nutrient absorption.
Trypsin Inhibitors – Lentils contain substances that inhibit the production of trypsin, an enzyme that is essential for breaking down protein. Lentils may contain trypsin inhibitors, however these are generally in low amounts and are unlikely to have a major effect on your protein digestion.
Lectins – Lectins are indigestible to humans and can bind to other nutrients, preventing them from being absorbed. Lectins can also bind to carbohydrates on the gut wall. If you eat too much of them, they might upset your stomach and make your intestines more permeable. That’s also called “leaky gut.”
It is speculated that consuming too many lectins may increase the risk of developing an autoimmune condition, but there is limited evidence to support this claim.
Lectins may also possess anticancer and antibacterial properties. Soaking lentils overnight and then discarding the water before cooking them can help to minimize the amount of lectins in your diet.
Tannins – Tannins in lentils can bind to proteins and prevent the absorption of certain nutrients. There are concerns that tannins may make it difficult for the body to absorb iron. Although tannins might affect the absorption of iron from food, they don’t seem to cause overall iron deficiency.
Tannins also contain high levels of antioxidants, which have various health benefits.
Phytic Acid – Phytic acids can reduce the absorption of minerals such as iron, zinc, and calcium by binding to them. Although phytic acid is reported to have negative effects, it is also said to have strong positive properties such as being an antioxidant and anticancer. Dehulling and cooking lentils greatly reduces the amount of antinutrients they contain.
While lentils contain some nutrients that are good for you, they also contain antinutrients that can reduce the absorption of other nutrients. Soaking and cooking lentils will help reduce the amount of lectins, but you will still absorb most of the nutrients.
The Best Way to Cook Lentils
Lentils are easy to cook. They don’t require any soaking, and can be cooked in less than 30 minutes. Or you can use canned lentils.
It’s best to give them a quick rinse before cooking to remove any dirt or impurities. Simply place the desired amount of potatoes into a pot, cover them with water and a pinch of salt, bring the pot to a boil, and let them simmer uncovered for 20–30 minutes.
You should cook your lentils until they are slightly crunchy or soft, depending on your preference. After boiling the eggs, drain them and rinse in cold water to stop them from cooking more.
Some lentils, like split orange ones, can be cooked in as little as five minutes. They’re perfect for when you need to whip up a quick meal or bulk up an already-cooked dish.
If you cook them in large quantities, you can store them in your fridge and they will last up to five days. This way, you can have them for lunch or dinner during the week. The amount of antinutrients in lentils decreases significantly when they are cooked. Soaking your lentils overnight can reduce the levels of antinutrients.
Lentils are easy to cook. Split lentils cook in 5-10 minutes while other varieties take 20-30 minutes. Compared to other legumes, lentils don’t need to be soaked before cooking.
Lentils are an excellent source of protein, low in calories, and rich in iron and folate. They come in a variety of colors, including black, green, brown, yellow, and red. The health benefits of polyphenols have been linked to reducing several risk factors for heart disease.
They can be cooked quickly in 5-30 minutes, which will reduce the amount of antinutrients present.