If you haven’t been eating lentils until now, it’s time to start incorporating this incredible food into your diet. Lentils are affordable, versatile, and easy to make, and their nutritional content really can’t be beaten. They’re rich in many nutrients including protein, fiber, folate, vitamin B6, thiamin, niacin, pantothenic acid, riboflavin, vitamin K, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, manganese, and selenium. This ancient food has been nourishing people for over 9,000 years. Lentils are considered a staple food in certain parts of the world, most specifically in Asian countries, such as India. Interested to know how lentils can benefit your health? Keep reading to find out!
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is known as the “silent killer” for a reason. With virtually no symptoms, hypertension can go unnoticed until a person begins to experience one of the dangerous conditions which it causes. Long-term high blood pressure can lead to stroke, heart attack, heart failure, kidney disease, and vision loss. The American Heart Association recommends the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) eating plan for people with hypertension. The diet focuses on plant-based foods and lean protein, as well as limiting sodium intake, while increasing intake of nutrients which help to lower blood pressure, such as potassium, calcium, and magnesium. Lentils are excellent food for lowering blood pressure because they are rich in both potassium and magnesium, as well as fiber, which helps to reduce cholesterol levels - another benefit to heart health.
Atherosclerosis is a condition in which the arteries become narrow over time due to buildup of plaque on the inner lining of blood vessels. Atherosclerosis can lead to coronary heart disease (CAD), which is the most common type of heart disease in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It can also cause heart attack, stroke, peripheral artery disease, and kidney problems. Atherosclerosis occurs when there is too much cholesterol in the bloodstream, leading to plaque buildup in the blood vessels’ inner walls. Lentils help to reduce the total cholesterol levels and ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol levels because of their high levels of soluble fiber. They’re also an excellent protein-rich replacement for animal protein, which can raise cholesterol levels when eaten in excess.
Lentils are high in essential mineral iron, with 6.6 milligrams (mg) — or 37% of your recommended daily intake (RDI) — per one-cup serving. About 70 percent of the iron in your body is stored in your red blood cells (hemoglobin) which are responsible for transporting oxygen from the lungs to the rest of your body. Iron deficiency can lead to a condition called anemia, in which there is a lack of healthy red blood cells in the body. Symptoms of anemia include fatigue, lightheadedness, dizziness, weakness, rapid heart beat, pale skin, and insomnia.
Lentils are rich in many nutrients which are essential to a healthy pregnancy, including protein, fiber, folate, and iron. Folate is also referred to as vitamin B9, or folic acid in its synthetic form. Deficiency in this essential nutrient has been linked to severe birth defects known as neural tube defects such as spina bifida and anencephaly. That is why doctors recommend folic acid supplementation for women who are trying to conceive, and who are pregnant. Iron is important for pregnancy because of the increase in blood volume that pregnant women experience. Women usually have up to a 50 percent increase in blood plasma, and about a 30 percent increase in red blood cells during pregnancy. Oxygen is carried by red blood cells to the growing baby through the umbilical cord and placenta. That is why it is so important for pregnant women to receive enough iron with which to facilitate the production of red blood cells. A one-cup serving of lentils contains 358 micrograms (mcg) of folate, or 90% of your RDI, and 6.6mg of iron, or 37% of your RDI.
Foods high in fiber help to stabilize blood sugar because they slow the release of carbohydrates, preventing a spike in blood glucose levels. This is especially important for those with diabetes, insulin resistance, or hypoglycemia. One cup of lentils contains 15.6g of fiber, which is 63% of your RDI. They are ranked as “low” on the glycemic index scale, making them a perfect food for those who need to watch their blood sugar levels.
As mentioned above, lentils are high in fiber. Foods high in fiber help to prevent bloating, gas, cramping, and constipation because fiber absorbs water and bulks up a stool, encouraging healthy digestion and elimination. This can bring relief to people who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome, diarrhea, or constipation.
Lentils contain phytoestrogens, which research shows, may help to fight hormone-related cancers, such as breast cancer. The highest cancer rates are found among populations with Western lifestyles that include diets high in meat and fat, and low in fiber. Asian populations with largely plant-based diets have a much lower incidence of cancer. Lentils are an excellent nutrient-dense plant-based food. They fit in well with a plant-based diet due to their high protein and high fiber content.
There’s a reason you’re seeing a plethora of Buddha Bowls, fermented foods, and vegan dishes all over the internet. In recent years, research has pointed to plant-based diets for health and longevity. Plant-based diets help to reduce the risk of cancer, chronic disease, inflammation, obesity, and diabetes. Luckily, there are plenty of plant foods which provide high levels of protein, including lentils. A one-cup serving of lentils provides about the same amount of protein as a 2-oz piece of chicken breast.
Lentils are a perfect food for dieters and healthy eaters. They are rich in fiber, which helps to keep you full and satisfied for a long time after eating. When you eat foods that are high in fiber, you’ll be less likely to snack in between meals. Snacking is a primary cause of weight gain. Studies show that diets high in plant-based foods, like lentils, lower the risk of obesity. Also lowered are the risk of diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and other health issues related to unhealthy weight.
The fiber content in lentils ensures a steady release of energy. Other foods offer a quick fix followed by a crash in energy. These rises and falls in energy levels are caused by eating foods with refined carbohydrates and sugars. They go into the bloodstream quickly and cause your blood sugar to rise and fall. That's why you sometimes feel sluggish and slow after a meal. Lentils are the opposite. They provide a steady release of energy. So you’ll be alert all day and ready for anything life throws your way.
This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.