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Lentils are legumes and/or pulses that are thought to be nutritious and have potential health benefits.

These pulses are packed with polyphenols and bioactive compounds which boost immunity and curb the progression of some diseases in those people who are at the risk of developing them.

According to Wikipedia the majority of the world production comes from Canada, India and Turkey. Lentils are the bushy annual plant which grow in pods and are from the family of legume or bean.

They are tiny, lens shaped seeds, native to central Asia and can also be cultivated in other parts of the world such as middle East North Africa and Mediterranean countries.

Lentils have been around from time immemorial and form part of the staple food in South Asian countries.

They are used widely in the cuisine of the Indian subcontinent and are called different names in different countries, like for instance, they are called dal/dhal in India, hiramane in Japanese, etc.

Lentils are grown agriculturally for human consumption and also used to feed livestock, among other reasons and are originally from the wild species although this is a general opinion according to research.

“Carbonized small lentils seeds have been found in several archeological remains starting from the Neolithic” It is said that Lentils are one of the oldest crops known and are among the earliest crops cultivated by humans.

Among other legumes, lentils are known for having a symbiotic nitrogen-fixing bacteria and thus play a role in crop rotation, according to Wikipedia.

Are lentils good for you? This is the question that needs to be unpacked in detail below. Stay tuned.

Lentils Have Different Colours and Are Rich in Polyphenols Which are Beneficial For Health

Lentils vary in color. They differ in taste as well, easy to prepare and can be cooked in few minutes, ranging from 20 to 45 minutes depending on their color. You can be creative with them in your kitchen. No need to pre-soak them as opposed to dry beans. Just wash and remove the dirt before cooking them.

Lentils are packed with nutrients along with phytochemicals and polyphenols. Experts always recommend that we eat plant based foods for the same reason that they are good for health.

These are varieties of Lentils

  • Yellow: Yellow lentils are nutty and sweet in taste. They cook for up to 20 minutes and get mushy when overcooked. Yellow lentils are mostly used in Indian cuisines and are good for soups, casseroles and/or stews.
  • Green lentils: green lentils differ in size and takes a bit of time to cook as opposed to the rest, approximately 45 minutes. They taste like pepper and maintain their texture after cooking. This variety is preferred by French and are good for salads.
  • Black: Black lentils are very small compared to other lentils and are referred to as beluga lentils. They have earthy taste and can be cooked over 25 minutes.
  • Brown lentils: Brown lentils takes 30 minutes to cook. Similar to green lentils, their texture remain intact after cooking but have an earthy taste, they are great for soups, mix them with other vegetables like carrots and green beans, for an example and you’ll have a nice satiating soup.
  • Red : Similar to yellow lentils, red lentils and are easy to cook as well, approximately 20 minutes. This variety of lentils are versatile and are used for Indian curries and soups. You can use them which ever way you want.

Nutritional Value of Lentils, according to NutritionData

One cup of cooked lentils:198g
Calories:230

Protein:18g

Fiber:16g

Minerals

Potassium: 731mg

Calcium: 37.6mg

Iron: 6.6 mg

Magnesium: 71mg

Phosphorus: 356mg

Selenium: 5.5mg

Zinc: 2.5mg

Vitamins

Vitamin A: 0.3%vof the RDA

Vitamin c: 5% of the RDA

Vitamin k: 3.4mg

Thiamine: 0.3mg

Riboflavin:0.1mg

Vitamin b6: 0.4mg

Folate: 358mcg

choline: 64.7mcg

Protein in Lentils

According to study lentil is a rich source of protein( predominantly, albumin and globulin), providing essential and none essential amino acids to the human body.

Protein provides the body with energy and plays a role in boosting the immune system. It’s an important component of every cell in the body and building blocks of bones, skin, muscles, and cartilage. Certain protein transport nutrients and oxygen to the blood stream.

Fiber and Lentils

Fiber promotes a healthy heart. It mops up the LDL and/or bad cholesterol and prevents it from clogging the blood vessels.

When cholesterol builds up to in the blood vessels this can lead to some health complications such as cardiovascular disease among others. Click here for more information about fiber-rich foods

The Health Benefits of polyphenols Rich Lentils

Lentils are thought to be rich in polyphenols and other plant chemicals compared to other legumes, such as, chickpea, green pea, and yellow pea, etc and have some potential health benefits.

Due to the high levels of polyphenols lentils elicit antioxidant, antibacterial, anti-diabetic, antiviral and cardio protective activities. It has been found that lentils contribute to the prevention of degenerative disease such as :

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Diabetes
  • Cancers
  • Obesity

According to prof Alison Duncan, Department of Human Health and Nutritional Sciences ” Pulses are extremely nutrient dense food that have the potential to reduce chronic diseases associated with mismanaged glucose levels” (ScienceDaily)

It has been found that replacing half a portion of starchy foods such as potatoes and rice for instance, with lentils can to greater deal improve your body’s response to the carbohydrates.

” Replacing half a serving of rice with lentils caused blood glucose to drop the by up to 20% and replacing half potatoes with lentils led to 35% drop” according to prof Alison Duncan and Dan Randath of Agriculture and Agri-food Canada.

Lentils are thought to be a good source of prebiotics and can help keep a good gut microbial environment, subsequently preventing gut-associated diseases. Read more about the best foods for a healthy gut.

Including these pulses as part of a healthy diet can lead to an effective and management strategy of preventing diabetes according NCBI

Take Away

Lentils form part of a healthy diet. They come in diversity of colors, including, brown, yellow, green, red, and black. They have existed for a very long time and are among the first oldest crops. Lentils are consumed worldwide and are popular in the Indian subcontinent cuisine especially the red and/or yellow lentils which are used for curries and as topping for “rottis”

lentils do not need pre-soaking, unlike dried beans, they are less time- consuming when they are being prepared. Depending on the color, lentils take up to 45 minutes to cook while some can only take up to 20 minutes or less.

Lentils are very easy to prepare while they are rich in nutrients, polyphenols, and other plant chemicals, that boost our health and curb many diseases. Lentil is a superfood in its own right.

Thank you for taking the time to read this article. If you have found it useful, kindly drop your comment or question below and engage in the conversation.  

Maggie

20 Replies to “Are Lentils Good For You”

  1. Hi Maggie, This is another useful and informative article. Thank you. I wonder if during these challenging times, now is a time to review what we eat. Already we are seeing “price hikes” in the costs of fresh foods. Tomatoes yesterday were five euros a kilo in our local supermarket. We use lentils often in our diet and it’s great that you have highlighted the benefits here. I do wonder what it takes to grow them. We take so much for granted and especially when we buy them in tins or jars. Looking forward to your next article. They always add value. Thank you.

    1. Hi Steve

      Thank you for your comment. It’s always appreciated. Food price is getting higher and higher especially for organic food. It will really help if we have our own gardens for fresh produce. That way we’ll have them fresh from our gardens and save on budgets.

      Thank you once more for dropping by.

  2. Dear Maggie, This is a terrific post. I love lentils and now I can love them even more, knowing that they are so good for you. I had no idea they had the health benefits you describe. Ok, I have a slightly contenscious question to ask. Whilst I love them, my partner may not appreciate me at night if I have eaten too many! I hope you know what I mean. Do you have any suggestions for avoiding gas?

  3. I have to say I love lentils and they are so easy to get a quick soup going in winter. So hearty. I just fry a lot of garlic (making sure no burning) and just add the yellow lentils and chicken cubes. Finally I chop tomatoes and coriander. It is ever so tasty and it gets done in 35 minutes max.

    1. Hi Mariella

      Thank you for a great recipe. It sounds delicious. I will definitely use it. It helps to try different ways of doing something. That way you’ll never get tired of something.

  4. Hello Maggie,

    I never really considered lentils to be much of a player as a source of nutrition, although I do like a good can of lentil and bacon soup on a regular basis. Thanks for opening my eyes further on this humble foodstuff.

    Take Care – SIMON

  5. Thank-you for this very informative article Maggie! I have been vegan for several months now and have incorporated new foods and certain foods a lot more regularly. I always seem to have some tummy upset after eating green lentils – perhaps I haven’t been cooking them long enough??
    Thanks for a great post!

    1. Hi Lisa
      You are welcome. Try other lentils and see if they treat you the same. Otherwise check with your health provider to see what could be the cause.

      Thank you for your comment

  6. Hi Maggie,
    this is great information about lentils. I didnt know thatvthe cooking time is determined by the colour. I also didnt know that they carried so much nutrients. I am used to the Mung beans and black eyed peas but the rest are new to me. I see them in the market but never really interested much about them. Could you maybe add some recipes on the lentils? that would be great.
    Thanks
    Janet.

    1. Hi Janet

      Thank you for reading this article and finding it useful. I’m afraid I do not have good recipes at the moment but you can Always play with different ideas in your kitchen especially by adding veggies like carrots, green beans, garlic, onion and add your spices especially with brown or greyish/ black lentils.

  7. Nice article on lentils. I had no idea that they contained 18g of protein and had only 230 calories per cup. That’s a pretty hearty meal and good numbers. I also like the fact that it has better glucose numbers than rice and potatoes. I am a big rice eater but I have to control my intake for the carbs it gives me. Thanks for sharing such a fine article.

    Regards,
    Courtney-

    1. Hi Courney

      Thank you for your comment. Yes lentils have low glycemic index and are rich in fiber, protein, iron and polyphenols. They come cheap as well.

  8. Thank you for this wonderful information. I enjoy lentils, but have no idea how to cook. Appreciated the comment with soup recipe. (I way over think things) I also did not know that there are a range of colors. Great info and nice site set up. Look forward to more information from your site.

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