The Amazing Health Benefits of Consuming Lentils
Lentils give a dish true depth and are a fantastic source of plant-based protein, but are they healthy? Kerry Torrens, a nutritionist, lists their top health advantages.
What are lentils?
The legume family’s edible lentils (lens culinaris) come in various hues, including red, green, brown, yellow, and black. They develop in pods like other legumes in the family. Lentils are a quick and often affordable food that is a great source of protein, fibre, and minerals.
Nutritional benefits of lentils
A 100g serving of green/brown lentils (boiled) provides:
- 105 kcal/446KJ
- 8.8g protein
- 0.7g fat
- 16.9g carbohydrate
- 5.1g fibre
- 3.5mg iron
- 40mcg selenium
- 30mcg folate
The Top Health Benefits of Lentils
Reduces risk of certain chronic diseases
Studies show that eating lentils daily lowers your chance of developing chronic diseases, including diabetes, obesity, cancer, and heart disease. This is because lentils, among the highest-ranking legumes for phenolic content, have a high concentration of protective plant components known as phenols. So it should be no surprise that lentils have cardioprotective, antibacterial, antiviral, and antioxidant properties.
According to studies, eating lentils daily can help you stay healthy and lower your chance of developing long-term conditions, including diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and breast cancer. Lentils include plant-based substances (polyphenols), which may have particularly potent effects. Anti-inflammatory, antioxidant (against cell damage), and neuroprotective properties of polyphenols (maintain brain health). Lentils may lower cholesterol levels in diabetics, according to studies. Additionally, the low glycemic index of lentils and the gradual rate at which blood sugar levels are affected by them may aid in preventing or managing diabetes.
Legumes, in general, are associated with a lower risk of cancer. Lentils’ fibre and antioxidant qualities may help fend against cell deterioration and stop the spread of cancer. To make any firm judgements on how lentils influence people, we must learn much more. However, we are learning more about the health benefits of the nutrients they contain, like polyphenols, vitamins, and fibre. And it is undeniable that a Mediterranean diet containing legumes like lentils may lead to improved health results for individuals.
Lower blood pressure
Salt’s negative effects, which might result in elevated blood pressure, are mitigated by potassium (hypertension). The potassium content in cooked split red lentils is above 270 milligrammes per half cup. Lentils are an excellent alternative to red meat due to their high protein content and the added benefit of lowering blood pressure. A word of caution: Whole grains should be combined with lentils to balance your diet, as they are lacking in several critical amino acids.
Support the digestive system
Prebiotic fibre, which helps with digestion and “fuels” the good gut bacteria vital to human health, is particularly abundant in lentils. Reduced risk of colorectal cancer is one of the many health advantages of a diet high in fibre.
Because they are high in fibre, folate, and potassium, lentils are excellent for the heart and for controlling cholesterol and blood pressure. Additionally, they contain energising iron and vitamin B1, which support a stable pulse. Your heart is protected by folate, which also aids in producing red blood cells. If you’re pregnant, it’s extremely crucial for the growth of your unborn child. The abundance of folate, iron and vitamin B1 in lentils also supports the health of your heart. Due to their ability to lower blood pressure and bad cholesterol, lentils may reduce the chance of developing heart disease. According to one research, lentils reduced blood pressure more than chickpeas, peas, or beans.
A good dosage of iron can provide you with the energy you need to get through the day, especially if you have anaemia. Red blood cells contain haemoglobin, which is made from iron and enables them to transport oxygen throughout the body. 15% of your necessary daily iron needs may be satisfied by half a cup of cooked lentils. If you follow a vegan or vegetarian diet, this information could seem like winning the lottery. To improve iron absorption, combine lentils with a source of vitamin C, such as tomatoes, potatoes, bell peppers, or Brussels sprouts.
Support your digestive system
Lentils are full of fibre that supports healthy digestion and feeds the beneficial bacteria in your stomach. Additionally, fibre may lower the risk of colorectal cancer. Fibre is crucial for controlling bowel movements and bolstering the immune system. We may maintain our health and activity levels by eating foods strong in fibre, such as lentils.
Helps to manage blood sugar levels
The low glycaemic index (GI) of legumes, including lentils, reduces the pace at which the energy they provide is delivered into circulation. This enhances the control of blood sugar. They are particularly full due to the high fibre content, which aids in controlling hunger.
A source of plant protein
As an excellent substitute for meat or fish, lentils are a terrific source of protein. Lentils are the third largest source of protein, by weight, of any legume or nut because they contain up to a third of their calories from protein. Lentils, like other legumes, are deficient in methionine and cysteine, two important amino acids. Mixing lentils with cereal grains like rice or wheat is handled.
Are lentils safe for everyone?
Lentils are a generally healthful addition to a diet that is balanced. It’s important to remember that lentils and other legumes both include naturally occurring substances referred to as “anti-nutrients.” One of these is phytic acid, which binds to minerals like iron and zinc and makes them more difficult for us to absorb. In contrast to corn, wheat, and soybeans, lentils have a reduced phytic acid level. Furthermore, soaking and boiling might lessen these anti-nutrients.
There have been reports of lentil allergies in several regions of Europe, most notably in Spain, where they are reportedly more widespread than peanut allergies. This is assumed to be connected to the fact that lentils are frequently used as a meal for weaning in Spain. You may be more susceptible to a lentil allergy if you already have an allergy to other legumes like chickpeas and peas.