Are Lentils Good for You?
Yes, they are. An edible legume, lentils are a staple in Indian cuisine. They are easily recognizable thanks to their lens shape and may be sold with or without their outer husks intact. Lentils are the oldest pulse crop grown and are among the earliest domesticated crops from the Old World.
There are different kinds of lentils, namely brown, puy, green, yellow and red, and beluga. Of these, the brown lentils are the most widely eaten, thanks to their earthy flavor, their ability to shape well during cooking, and tasting great in stews. Lentils are also packed with various nutrients and hence there are many health benefits of lentils.
Before diving into the health benefits, it might be good to know the lentil’s nutritional facts. 1 cup or 200 gms of cooked lentils provides around
|Niacin||10% of the RDI|
|Vitamin B6||18% of the RDI|
|Folate||90% of the RDI|
|Pantothenic acid||13% of the RDI|
|Iron||37% of the RDI|
|Magnesium||18% of the RDI|
|Phosphorous||36% of the RDI|
|Potassium||21% of the RDI|
|Zinc||17% of the RDI|
|Copper||25% of the RDI|
|Manganese||49% of the RDI|
Benefits of Lentils
1. Promotes healthy pregnancy
Pregnancy may not always be smooth sailing, especially if the mother is unaware of nutritional needs. One of the most vital nutrients to be consumed during pregnancy is folic acid. This helps in healthy brain development and helps avoid neural tube defects. Women who consume enough lentils may not have premature deliveries.
[ Read: Pregnancy Diet ]
2. Boost energy level
Low iron in the blood is usually the cause of low energy. iron forms an essential part of haemoglobin, which helps red blood cells properly oxygenate. Women have more iron requirements than men. Lentils are an excellent source of non-heme iron(1).
3. Induces intestinal regularity
If you are a victim of constipation, lentils may be able to help you. Regular consumption of lentils increases the fiber content in your body, thus helping you eliminate waste better, and preventing excess water from being reabsorbed into the colon. The average person doesn’t get enough fiber in their diet, which is why lentils are a tasty and viable option for them.
4. Helps accelerate weight loss
When it comes to losing weight, lentils are like a superfood. One cup contains just 230 calories, yet it is quite filling once consumed. In addition to this, the presence of protein and fiber ensures that you feel full for hours. Bid midnight food cravings goodbye, once you include lentils in your diet.
[ Read: Amaranth Grain Benefits ]
5. Helps regulate blood sugar levels
Lentils do not contain simple carbohydrates. Instead, they carry slower digesting varieties. This is why they are an excellent option for controlling blood sugar.
In addition to this, the high fiber content slows the rate at which sugar enters the bloodstream. Thus, insulin has a better chance of working and actually shuttles glucose into muscle and liver cells(2).
6. May help prevent cancer
In addition to a large number of antioxidants, lentils also contain small amounts of the mineral selenium, which plays a unique role in cancer prevention.
Selenium may suppress the rate at which tumours can grow. Selenium also enhances the detoxification properties of the liver, thus helping the latter naturally remove cancer-promoting compounds.
7. Can lower cholesterol
Thanks to their nature of being low in fat, devoid of sugar and high in fiber, lentils are an extremely heart-healthy food. They may help reduce high cholesterol levels.
Usually, cholesterol medications work towards blocking an enzyme responsible for cholesterol production. Copper, a mineral found in legumes, possess the same action, yet is very safe at normal consumption levels.
8. Decreases risk of heart disease
Lentils contain folic acid, and other B vitamins, that promote the breakdown of homocysteine. The homocysteine level raises your risks of blood vessel clots, strokes and heart attacks. Homocysteine is an amino acid produced naturally by the body but becomes accumulated if there are no B vitamins, especially folic acid.
Additionally, there are also Benefits of red lentils that one needs to be aware off, these are seeds from legume plants that split in half after hulling. They are a great protein source, contain around 230 calories and are very nutritious.
[ Read: Foods For Good Moods ]
How to Consume Lentils?
Lentils may be cooked and you may create lentil soups. Or, you can create an Indian-style dal recipe which is one of the most popular ways to consume lentils.
Lentil Soup Recipe
Lentil soup is a nutritional powerhouse as it combines all the nutrients with the antioxidant power of herbs, veggies, and spices. It is effortless to prepare. There are numerous lentil soup benefits
- Lentils ½ cup (you may take any lentil of your choice)
- Olive oil two tablespoons
- Onion 1 medium-sized
- Carrot 1 medium-size
- Celery one stalk
- Finely chopped garlic one tablespoon
- Cumin ½ teaspoon
- Oregano ¼ teaspoon
- Salt to taste
- Black pepper to taste
- Lemon juice one tablespoon
- Finely chopped coriander two tablespoons
- Chicken stock as required (you can also use vegetable stock)
- Spread lentils in a large, open tray and clean the lentils.
- After cleaning, wash them thrice with water
- Soak the lentils in a bowl for about an hour.
- Take a soup pot and keep it on a medium-low flame
- Now add olive oil and put garlic when the oil is heated. Make sure not to burn the garlic
- As the garlic turns light brown, add chopped onion, carrots and celery
- Cook the vegetables for about ten minutes
- Now add soaked lentils along with the chicken stock
- Now add cumin, oregano, salt, and black pepper
- Bring it to a boil and reduce the heat
- Let the soup simmer until the lentils become tender. This may take at least forty minutes
- Once the lentils become soft cook the soup until you get the desired consistency
- Once the desired consistency is achieved, turn the flame off and add lemon juice and coriander
This is how you can prepare your lentil soup which is a very healthy yet delectable dish. This soup is a useful dish to be consumed while on a lentil diet.
Myths and Side Effects
Besides, numerous health benefits of lentils, there are also some side effects. Excessive use of anything can upset you, and the same is in the case of lentils too.
- Lentils contain lectins that have been linked to inflammation and thus, upset stomach.
- Besides this, they are rich in fiber, and excessive use of fiber can also cause constipation. It is advised to increase the intake of lentils gradually, mainly if you are not used to consuming it often.
- Though lentils are good for the heart and also control the blood sugar levels, it is always recommended to consult with a doctor before starting any lentil diet plan. Similarly, consult your doctor before using any lentil-based remedy.
- One big myth is that eating lentils may upset your stomach and your metabolism. The truth is, that if you over-consume lentils, this might occur. Keep your consumption under safe levels, and you should be ok.
- If you overeat lentils, you may be at risk of kidney disease, as excess consumption puts pressure on the kidneys. Once the lentils enter your digestive system, they begin to ferment, which leads to the formation of more gas.
Lentils are a great source of various nutrients. Lentil soup benefits are plentiful and the legume has other proven health benefits as well. Start a lentil diet today, and see the changes in your life.
1. Are lentils fattening?
Lentils contain a fair amount of fiber, so don’t over-eat lentils, and your weight won’t fluctuate. On the other hand, consuming lentils might help you with weight loss.
2. Is it okay to eat lentils every day?
Lentils are rich in soluble and insoluble dietary fiber. One cup of cooked lentils provides around 15 gm of dietary fiber. Hence, it is important to consume lentils every day.
3. Which lentils are the most nutritious?
Black lentils are by far the most nutritious. They take around 25 minutes to cook.