Discover lentils, a superfood that is filled with the nutrients you need. Use lentils in soups, salads, or casseroles for a great addition to a healthy diet.
Lentils are a part of the legume family. These small seed-like vegetables are nutrient dense and inexpensive, making them an ideal superfood. This guide will explore the benefits of lentils and detail how you can easily add them to your daily diet.
Nutritional Value of Lentils
Lentils are rich in complex carbohydrates, a nutrient that boosts the metabolism and helps the body to burn fat. They are an excellent source of fiber, which can help reduce cholesterol levels. Lentils are also an outstanding source of folate and magnesium. A one-cup serving of lentils contains:
- 18 grams of protein
- 40 grams of carbohydrates
- Less than 1 gram of fat
- 16 grams of fiber
- 230 calories
For more nutritious superfoods checkout our 50 Best Superfoods of 2015
What Are the Health Benefits of Lentils
The health benefits of eating lentils are numerous. Because they are high in protein and low in fat, lentils make an excellent substitute for meat, and they can help improve heart health. Beans also contain something that meat lacksóphytochemicals. Phytochemicals help block the action of cell-damaging free radicals, which can cause everything from cancer to neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s. In addition, the magnesium found in lentils has been linked with a decreased chance of heart attack and stroke, according to WebMD.
Health Benefits of Puy Lentils
Puy lentils are cultivated in the Le Puy region of central France, where the beans develop an earthy flavor due to the rich volcanic soil they are grown in. Just three heaping tablespoons of these dark-colored lentils count as a full serving of vegetables. They are an excellent source of vegetable protein, which your body needs for cell growth, maintenance, and repair. Puy lentils also have a very long shelf life, which makes them an exceptional staple food to add to your pantry.
Health Benefits of Black Lentils
According to a University of Illinois study, black lentils are loaded with iron, and, by eating one cup a day, you get half of your recommended daily requirement. These lentils are often referred to as beluga lentils because they resemble beluga caviar when they are cooked. Like other colored lentils, black lentils are loaded with an impressive amount of vitamins and minerals.
Health Benefits of Green Lentils
Green lentils are probably the most commonly available of these types of beans. According to Discovery Health, lentils are a good diet choice for those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis because they help reduce inflammation in the body. Green lentils are high in soluble fiber, which makes them a good choice for anyone who suffers from diabetes, insulin resistance, or hypoglycemia. They provide a steady supply of energy that helps to keep blood sugar levels balanced.
Benefits of Lentils for Weight Loss
Lentils are an excellent food choice if you are trying to lose weight. Because lentils contain virtually no fat but are high in fiber, they tend to fill you up without adding unnecessary calories to your meal. This is particularly useful for those who struggle with feeling hungry all the time. You can add lentils to almost any dish including stews, burgers and salads with arugula or other leafy green help you feel full for longer and to assist in reducing cravings and overeating.
Benefits of Lentils during Pregnancy
Women who are nursing or who are expecting a baby should add lentils to a balanced diet. Lentils help restore sufficient iron levels in the body, a mineral that can assist in warding off anemia. Because lentils are full of fiber, they can also help prevent constipation and subsequent hemorrhoids, which are both common during pregnancy. Digestion of lentils can cause gas, but the more you eat of this superfood, the more your body will become accustomed to it. If the gas is bothersome, you can try boiling the beans for a few minutes after you add them to water to cook.
Selecting and Storing Lentils
Lentils can usually be purchased dried from grocery stores, where they are sold in prepackaged containers and bulk bins. When selecting lentils, make sure the bins have been covered to protect them from contamination.
Check the packaging and make sure there is no evidence of moisture or insect damage, and, if you can see the beans through the package, make sure they are whole and not cracked. Some grocery stores sell canned lentils, but canning tends to lower the nutritional value, so choose dried if possible. Store your lentils in an airtight container in a cool and dry place. As long as the container is airtight, the beans will keep for up to twelve months.
How to Prepare Lentils
Lentils are easy to prepare and can be added to a variety of dishes. When preparing dry beans, pour the beans out on a flat surface and remove any stones or debris. Place the beans in a strainer and run cold water over them for about a minute, sifting through them to ensure they are rinsed well. Add one cup of dry lentils to three cups of boiling water. Turn the heat down and cook the lentils for about twenty to thirty minutes or until tender.
If you are going to use the lentils in a salad, you may only want to cook them for fifteen minutes to ensure they have a firmer texture and are not mushy. Because the health benefits of lentils are great, you should try adding them to noodles and soups with carrots and parsley.