Health Benefits of Lentils

Health Benefits of Lentils

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What are Lentils?

Lentils (Lens culinaris)  is a bushy annual plant belonging to the legume family. It is known for its lens-shaped seeds, which grow in pods, usually two seeds in each. It is also called L.esculenta. (Moench), Ervum lens (Linn).

The word "lens" is taken from optics field referring to double-convex lenses. Lentil is lens in Latin, and its botanical genus is Lens. One needs to note that, in general parlance and in stores, toor dal (split pigeon peas), chana dal (split yellow gram or chickpeas), moong beans (whole or split), urad or black/white beans (whole or split), are referred to as lentils.

Health Benefits of Lentils

While red lentils and brown lentils are common In India, the world over, few other types that are available include:
  • Dark/Light Green – Eston, Laird, Richlea, French Green
  • Puy lentils
  • Beluga, black lentil
  • Yellow/tan lentils (red inside)
  • Red Chief
  • Macachiados
  • Pardina

Health Benefits of Lentils

Healthy Heart

Packed with fiber, B-complexes and magnesium, regular intake of lentils help to reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases (CVD). Magnesium is natural calcium channel blocker and helps to relax the heart muscles. Homocysteine can damage artery walls, but in the presence of folate and B6 (Pyridoxine), homocysteine is converted into benign cysteine or methionine. Fiber is known to reduce the risk of CVD. The calcium, potassium, and magnesium present in lentils help to lower blood pressure. Lentils can be used as food substitute to meat. Consumption of lentils provide antioxidants that neutralize the free radicals and decreases the incidence of developing atherosclerosis. Fiber also helps to lower cholesterol.

Consumption of Lentils Help to Reduce the Risk of Heart Disease

Iron

Iron deficiency is known to cause fatigue, lack of willingness, and lack of zeal for life. A cup of lentil can provide half of the daily iron requirement. According to World Health Organization WHO, 30% of the world’s population is anemic and 50% of it is caused by iron deficiency. Lentil energy bars or lentil chops can be added in lunch boxes for people of all ages and gender.

Folate Protection

Folic acid (vitamin B9) is a vital nutrient for pregnant women. It is said that would-be mothers should take folic acid a month before conception and continue it during pregnancy. Recommended dosage of folic acid is 400 micrograms. Folic acid helps to prevent neural tube defects (NTDs) of the baby's brain and spinal cord. Folate is naturally found in foods. Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate, available in the form of supplements, processed, and fortified foods.

Improves Digestion

The fiber present in lentils helps in boosting metabolism. Fiber functions as "bulking agent" in the digestive system. Lentil alleviates constipation and provides satiation. Fiber in lentils provide regularity to digestive process and prevents irritable bowel syndrome. Lentils are rich in molybdenum which acts as a catalyst for enzymes to facilitate the breakdown of certain amino acids in the body. Deficiency of molybdenum (Mo) can cause health problems like rapid heartbeat, mental health problems, cancer of the esophagus and stomach.

Protein

Lentils are a good source of proteins. Protein intake is known to facilitate weight loss as protein digestion requires more calorie burn than the calories protein food provides. Lentils are a good choice to balance the ratio of calorie intake to calorie burn.

Sprouted lentils contain all the essential amino acids, which are the building block of muscles, cartilage, bones, skin, and blood. Proteins build muscle mass and balances hormones. Muscle growth depends on the proteins in the body. Lentils consumption helps to maintain protein synthesis as against protein breakdown. Protein intake also supports the nervous system. Amino acids promote cell and tissue regeneration.

Lentils are Rich in Proteins

Stabilize Blood Sugar

High fiber and protein diet help to prevent blood glucose spikes after meals. Lentils can be beneficial for diabetics as it helps to balance blood sugar levels and reduce plasma glucose. Plant protein helps kidneys to flush out high levels of blood sugar. Protein and fiber intake slows the digestion, whereby insulin is released gradually and healthy glucose levels are maintained.

Fights Cancer

Fibers present in lentils help to decrease the risk of colon cancer and prostate cancer. Lentils also contain selenium which has anti-tumor and anti-inflammation properties. Selenium stimulates the production of killer T-cells. Lentils also contain phytochemicals such as phenolic acids, phytic acid, flavanols, flavonols, soyasaponins, and condensed tannins. This bestows lentils their antioxidant property.

Fibers in Lentils Help Decrease the Risk of Colon and Prostate Cancer

"Lentils are friendly—the Miss Congeniality of the bean world." - Laurie Colwin

Lentils Recipe

No Bake Lentil Energy Bar

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup boiled lentils red, green
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter or almond butter
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped dates, raisins, cranberries
  • 1/4 cup chopped almonds
  • 1 tablespoon honey 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1-3/4 cups rolled oats (optional)
Process:
  • Put boiled lentils in a bowl and mash with a fork upon cooling.
  • Add dates, raisins, cranberries, almonds, honey, nut butter, oats (optional) and vanilla to the bowl.
  • Mix well and spread the mixture in a baking pan with parchment paper.
  • Press the mixture to make it even.
  • Refrigerate it for 30 to 60 minutes and then cut out the bars.

Nutrition Facts for Lentils

The nutritional values of "Lentils" per 100 grams are:


Nutrition Summary
Total Calories 353
Protein 25.8 g
Fat 0.4 g
Carbohydrate 60.1 g
NutrientsAmount%Daily Value
Calcium, Ca 56 mg 5.6 %
Copper, Cu 0.52 mg 25.95 %
Iron, Fe 7.54  mg 41.89 %
Magnesium, Mg 122 mg 30.5 %
Manganese, Mn 1.33 mg 66.5 %
Phosphorus, P 451 mg 45.1 %
Potassium, K 955  mg 27.29 %
Selenium, Se 8.3 mcg 11.86 %
Sodium, Na 6 mg 0.25 %
Zinc, Zn 4.78 mg 31.87 %
Vitamin A 39  IU 0.78 %
Vitamin C 4.4 mg 7.33 %
Vitamin B6 0.54 mg 27 %
Vitamin E 0.49 mg 1.63 %
Vitamin K 5  mcg 6.25 %
Riboflavin 0.21  mg 12.41 %
Thiamin 0.87 mg 58.2 %
Folate, DFE 479  mcg 119.75 %
Niacin 2.6  mg 13.02 %
Sugars 2.03 g
Fiber 30.5  g 122 %
Cholesterol 0 mg 0 %
Water 10.4 g
Carotene, alpha 0 mcg
Carotene, beta 23  mcg
Choline 96.4 mg
Lycopene 0  mcg
View all +
Data source: USDA Nutrient Database, R25
*Percent Daily Values (%DV) are based on a 2,000 calorie reference diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower based on your individual needs.

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