Lentil is a high-protein product of the legume family. It grows in pods and there are several varieties of it: red, brown, black, and green. Essentially, varieties do not differ in their useful properties. Lentils are cooked quickly and easily. And low cost makes it an affordable form of high-quality protein for many people.
Lentils beans contain fiber and are the number 1 product for their content. It is in second place in the world in terms of the content of vitamin B9 (folic acid). This legume is an ancient crop. It is grown for human consumption or animal feed.
Lentil has a high nutritional value and extremely beneficial effect on the health of the body. Numerous studies have shown that increasing the consumption of herbal products like lentils reduces the risk of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Lentils give healthy color to the face and hair, increase the amount of energy and reduce weight.
1. Helps lower cholesterol.
Cholesterol promotes the formation of bile acids that enter the intestines. Due to the fact that bile acids can not be utilized, they again turn into cholesterol and clog the veins and arteries. Fiber can remove bile from the body, it absorbs bile like a sponge and utilizes it. Due to the fact that lentils are a rich source of fiber, it helps reduce blood cholesterol levels. And its reduction, in turn, leads to a decrease in the risk of heart disease and the likelihood of stroke.
2. Lentils can alleviate heart disease.
As mentioned above, due to the fiber contained in lentils, the risk of heart disease is significantly reduced. In addition, lentils are a real fount of folic acid and magnesium, which contribute greatly to heart health.
In our body, there is a substance called homocysteine. It is formed from the amino acid methionine and lives in the body for a very short time. It is derived from folic acid, vitamins B6 and B12. If these vitamins in the body are not enough, then homocysteine begins to damage the walls of blood vessels. On the damaged walls of the veins and arteries, cholesterol begins to be deposited. And his surplus, as we know, leads to heart attack and stroke. That is why folic acid is very important for the proper functioning of the cardiovascular system.
Magnesium improves blood circulation, making oxygen and nutrients easily flow into all cells of the body. Use lentils – it will protect you from heart disease.
3. Normalizes the digestive system.
Fiber also helps prevent constipation and other digestive disorders (for example, diverticulosis or irritable bowel syndrome). We already know how fiber works, it is like a sponge that absorbs all the toxins and slags. In addition, it contains a lot of water, it also saturates the fecal masses with it, facilitating their removal from the intestines.
Among legumes, lentils are a leader in coarse fiber, which contributes to the normal digestion and removal of toxins from the body:
4. Stabilizes blood sugar levels.
And back to the fiber. This dietary fiber slows down the rate at which carbohydrates enter the bloodstream and, thus, maintains a constant level of sugar without sudden changes. Lentil not only does not raise sugar but also reduces the level of glucose in the blood if it has increased.
5. Lentils are a storehouse of protein.
Of all the legumes and nuts, lentils are in third place in terms of protein content. 26% of lentil calories is protein, which makes it a great dish for vegetarians and vegans.
6. Fights fatigue and energizes.
Iron deficiency is a major cause of fatigue. Women aged 18 to 50 years are particularly sensitive to iron deficiency. One cup of boiled lentils contains more than a third of the daily iron requirement. This vitamin distributes oxygen throughout the body, stimulates energy production, and speeds up metabolism.
7. Promotes weight loss.
Although lentils contain a huge amount of healthy nutrients, such as fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals, it still contains a relatively small amount of calories and contains almost no fat (only 1.5 g, which is 2, 3% of the daily norm). One cup of cooked lentils contains about 295 calories, which is only the fifth part of the required calories per day. That is why using lentils, you can get rid of extra pounds, but remain full.
8. Lentils help remove cancerous substances from the body.
Selenium is a mineral found in lentils. It is not in most other products. Selenium prevents inflammation, reduces tumor growth, and improves the immune response to infection, stimulating the production of T-cells that kill the disease. This mineral also plays a role in the enzymatic function of the liver and helps to detoxify certain cancers from the body.
9. Promotes muscle growth.
In order for our body and our internal organs to function properly, we urgently need a constant, regular supply of high-quality protein from food. Lentils contain the necessary amount of protein for the proper functioning of the body, and their amino acid composition satisfies all the needs for protein nutrients.
10. Prevents atherosclerosis.
According to research data, the use of lentils allows the body to accumulate a sufficient amount of antioxidants, which will help reduce the chances of atherosclerosis. Antioxidants contribute to the elimination of free radicals and, thereby, eliminate damage to cells and genes.
11. Improves electrolytic activity.
Lentil contains potassium, which is considered the best source of replenishment of electrolytic activity. Indeed, many diseases are associated precisely with the fact that there is too much sodium in the body and too little potassium. In addition to its main action, potassium contributes to the proper, coordinated work of the kidneys, heart, and brain.
12. Excludes breast cancer.
Folic acid contained in a large number of lentils prevents the formation of malignant tumors in the mammary glands. It neutralizes cancer cells.
13. Blocks PMS symptoms.
In periods of PMS, a woman is prone to mood swings, apathy, depression, and irritability. Lentil contains the amino acid tryptophan, which carries the hormones of happiness. Regular use of lentils contributes to a good mood and adds vitality, and also eliminates possible back pain.
14. Relieves symptoms in menopause.
Lentils contain vitamins that promote nerve regulation (calcium, tryptophan, B vitamins). Thanks to these vitamins, women who have reached the stage of menopause will be able to transfer their symptoms much easier.
15. Contributes to the proper course of pregnancy.
In addition, the lentil has another major advantage for women: it is extremely useful during pregnancy. 100 grams of lentils contains 90% -120% of the daily norm for the body of folic acid (vitamin B9). This legume culture is necessary for pregnant women. Due to their properties, lentils will ensure the proper development and formation of the nervous and cardiovascular systems of the child.
16. Cleans and makes the skin shine.
To lentil was useful for the skin, it must be used in masks for the face. The most sought-after variety for such masks is red lentils. It serves as an excellent basis for peeling masks, cleansing masks, and masks that tighten pores. Thanks to these masks, natural shine appears on the skin, the skin becomes soft and tender.
17. Eliminates acne and wrinkles.
Lentils contribute to the proper functioning of the sebaceous glands, which helps reduce the risk of acne, inflammation, black spots. The number of wrinkles is reduced, and the risk of age spots is reduced several times.
18. Relieves prostate diseases.
By eating lentils of red or brown varieties, men can get rid of inflammations in the prostate gland. When combined with lentils with medicines of the corresponding action, blood circulation in the groin area is improved, the risk of prostatitis is reduced.
19. Leads to healthy potency.
Since lentils normalize blood flow and clear blood vessels, it will help men get rid of the problems associated with erectile dysfunction.
Harm and contraindications
1. Violates the digestive tract.
Do not abuse lentils. Unaccustomed to it, you can eat a lot, which naturally affects the work of the digestive tract. Excessive consumption of beans can lead to unpleasant heaviness in the stomach, bloating, gas formation, stomach cramps, and accumulation of toxins in the intestines. This is due to excessive consumption of fiber, which is part of lentils. To avoid side effects, drink plenty of water, increase the portions of lentils gradually.
2. Promotes the formation of kidney stones.
Lysine, which is part of lentils, has a peculiarity to accumulate in the body. With the constant consumption of lentils, there is a risk of kidney stones. If you already have kidney stones, stop using lentils.
3. Violates kidney function.
Consuming large amounts of protein has other side effects. It can exert pressure on the kidneys with increased leaching of protein from the body. Ultimately, this may affect overall kidney function.
4. Violates heart activity.
In addition, lentils are rich in potassium. This mineral can negatively affect the activity of the heart, which can lead to numbness of the limbs. Follow the daily portion of lentils, do not overeat it.
5. Can cause allergies.
Lentils are a potential allergen. Lentil croup is contraindicated in people with intestinal problems and bile ducts, as well as those suffering from gout.
The nutritional value of one serving of lentils (100 g) and the percentage of daily value:
Calories 295 kcal – 21%;
Proteins 24 g – 29%;
Fats 1.5 g – 2.3%;
Carbohydrates 46.3 g – 36%;
Cellulose 11.5 g – 57.5%;
Water 14 g – 0.55%.
B1 0.5 mg – 33%;
B2 0.2 mg – 11%
B5 1.3 mg – 13%;
B6 0.4 mg – 18%;
B9 358 mg – 90%;
PP 2.5 mg – 27%.
Potassium 731 mg – 21%;
Calcium 83 mg – 8%;
Silicon 80 mg – 266%;
Magnesium 71 mg – 18%;
Sodium 55 mg – 4%;
Sulfur 163 mg – 16%;
Phosphorus 356 mg – 36%;
Chlorine 75 mg – 3%.
Iron 6.6 mg – 37%;
Zinc 2.5 mg – 17%;
Copper 0.5 mg – 25%;
Selenium 0.2 mg – 35%;
Manganese 1 mg – 49%;
Chrome 1 mg – 21%.
Additional useful information about lentils
How to use it?
Basically, lentils are eaten, as well as usual groats (for example, peas). Therefore, the main and most popular way of cooking is boiling.
Lentils can be boiled and eaten as a lentil porridge. Boil lentils should be simmered for 15 minutes. It does not need prior soaking. Lentils can be added to the soup, like any other legume. With any method of preparation, it equally reveals all its beneficial properties.
Lentils are perfectly digested so that they can replace bread and any other cereal. When you are cooking lentils, add thyme spice to the dish. He is able to perfectly highlight all the tastes of this legume culture.
Add to salad.
In addition, lentils can be added to salads. Before adding to the salad, it must be boiled beforehand. Lentil salads are always tasty and satisfying.
Use in canned form.
To save time, you can buy canned lentils. However, if you purchase such a product, make sure that the aluminum can is not made with BPA (a chemical commonly found in the lining of aluminum cans). This can cause health problems.
You can also eat sprouted lentils. To do this, rinse the beans well, then soak them in water for two to three days, changing the water every 24 hours. This procedure will positively change the composition of lentils, increase the number of amino acids, vitamins and minerals.
How to choose?
There are many different types of lentils available in the markets, with a palette of colors from brown to green, from yellow to red. Lentils may also vary in size.
Some of the most popular types of lentils are:
- Brown (Spanish) – cooks quickly, blends perfectly with meat and vegetables.
- French green (with dark red or blue-green color) – such lentils are sold poorly and cooked for about 1 hour. Great for adding to salads, as after boiling retains its appearance.
- Red (has an earthy flavor) – cooking time is minimal, suitable for mashed potatoes or cream soup.
- Black (also called “beluga”) – looks like black caviar, suitable for many dishes.
The type of lentils you want to buy depends on what you use for them. Different types of lentils have different textures and tastes. Lentils with husks remain more solid when cooked compared to lentils without husks, which are boiled softly. But since all types are similar in taste and provide the body with the same nutrients, you can easily alternate its types.
Distinctive signs of bad and good lentils:
- has a crumbly structure;
- does not have condensation on its packaging;
- no different grains in size and color;
- does not contain extraneous particles, mold, bugs;
- has a smooth shape.
Bad lentils have:
- low quality;
- damaged packaging;
- expired shelf-life;
- different color of beans;
- bean stains;
- crumpled and damaged beans.
How to store?
With proper care, lentils can be stored for a long time. A distinctive feature of this culture is its ability to absorb moisture.
- Lentil should not be stored in containers in which condensation may form.
- Keep it in a dark, cool, and dry place.
- Throw away the product if it smells damp and rot.
- Boiled lentils should be stored strictly in the refrigerator and not longer than 6 days.
- Boiled lentils can be frozen.
- After defrosting, it can change its consistency but does not lose its beneficial properties.
History of lentil
Lentil seeds were found in archaeological excavations of ancient settlements in the Middle East. Thanks to these excavations you can determine the age of lentils. She is at least 8 thousand years old. As a result of the migration of the tribes of the Middle East, lentils were distributed throughout Africa and then migrated to Europe. Historians have suggested that slaves were fed lentil soup to be strong and resilient, and therefore workable.
Historically, Indians have been among the largest consumers of lentils. About a quarter of the world’s production of lentils today is from India, most of which is consumed and never exported. The Indian diet often includes a main dish called dhal (or lentils), which is an ancient recipe and part of the daily diet in India.
In other parts of the world, such as Israel and Ethiopia, lentils also provided a high percentage of nutrients for a growing population. In the tradition of Jewish mourning, lentils were prepared for the mourners, along with boiled eggs, because their round shape symbolizes the life cycle from birth to death.
Ethiopians consumed lentils to provide the body with the necessary amount of calories, fiber, and protein. Especially fed lentil babies for their rapid growth and development. And they used it in the period of famine.
In ancient Greece, lentils were made from flour, added to bread products. Lentil stew was the cheapest dish and equated to food for the poor. Only in the 18th century, noble people began to use lentils.
Lentils were brought to Russia in the 12th century. During a period of severe drought and a bad year (the end of the 19th century), only lentils were born, and it was she who saved many people from starvation. After this incident, Russia began to actively grow lentils, and the country took the leading place in the export of lentils in the World. But later, this culture began to grow unprofitable due to the prevalence of the cold climate in the country and India began to take the first place.
At present, the tradition of lentil consumption is being restored in many countries. Dishes from it can be found in the menu of the world’s best restaurants, but of course mainly in Asia, where she found popularity.
- Lentils was one of the first plants cultivated by humans, along with wheat, barley, and peas.
- Lentils were brought to Russia in the 11th and 12th centuries under the name of suavite.
- Lentils are not able to accumulate harmful or toxic substances.
- In ancient times, lentils were valued as medicinal plants.
- In France, lentils are considered “royal food.”
- In Brazil, lentils are a symbol of wealth and well-being.
- During World War II, the American government called on its citizens to feed on lentils in order not to “undermine” the country’s economy at a difficult time.
- The mention of lentils is found in the books of the Old Testament. She was the main food of our ancestors.
- At the end of the 19th century, there was a severe drought in our country, and only lentils were renowned for glory, thus protecting our people from hunger.
- Only 8% of Americans consume lentils.
- Lentils were found in ancient Egyptian tombs, dated 2400 BC. e. Perhaps the ancient Egyptians used it as an aphrodisiac.
- Lentils are believed to give children vitality and diligence.