Lentils can provide plenty of fiber, protein, zinc, iron, potassium, folate and B vitamins. In fact, just ¾ cup of cooked lentils provide 12 grams of fiber and 13 grams of protein.
Lentils come in many varieties from the dark green variety, to the small red kind and the plump ones. The red ones are prefect in soups, while the green ones are more suitable for salads. Here are the amazing health benefits of lentils.
Health Benefits of Lentils:
1. Diabetes Management
A study which was conducted by Anderson and Bridges showed that in the categories of foods, dietary fiber was known to be high in the case of the legume family. Lentils, along with peas and beans, belong to the legume family.
Dietary fiber present in food such as lentils helps in controlling blood sugar levels. Dietary fiber slows down the rate at which food is absorbed by the blood, therefore maintaining your sugar level constantly.
2. Digestive Health
Lentisl contain high levels of dietary fiber, and therefore should be on your list to promote regular bowel movements. The high level of insoluble fiber present in lentils absorbs water in your digestive tract, swelling up and carrying waste out of the digestive tract. This makes lentils a great digestive regulator and helps in preventing IBS, constipation, diverticulitis, inflammatory bowel diseases and diarrhea.
To get the most digestive benefits from lentils nutrition, you should drink plenty of water so the fiber consumed has plenty of fluid to absorb.
3. Heart Health
Several studies have shown that consuming high fiber foods such as lentils reduces your risk of heart disease. Also, lentils are a great source of magnesium and folate, which are big contributors to heart health.
Folate helps in lowering your homocysteine levels, which is a serious risk factor for heart disease. While magnesium helps in improving blood flow, nutrients and oxygen throughout the body.
Low levels of magnesium have been directly linked with heart disease, therefore eating lentils will keep your heart healthy.
4. Prevents Cancer
Selenium is a mineral that is present in lentils. It is not present in most foods.
Selenium helps in preventing inflammation, improving your immune response to infection and decreasing tumor growth rates, by stimulating the production of disease-killing T-cells.
Also, it plays a role in liver enzyme function and helps in detoxifying some cancer-causing compounds in your body. The fiber content in lentils is also linked with a lowered risk of colo-rectal cancer.
5. Rich in Iron
Lentils provide slow burning complex carbohydrates, and can help increase your energy by replenishing your iron stores. Also, in particular for menstruating women, who are more at risk for iron deficiency, boosting iron stores with lentils is a good idea. This is because, unlike red meat, which is another source of iron, lentils are not rich in calories and fat.
Iron is an important component of hemoglobin, which transports oxygen from the lungs to all body cells. Also, iron is part of the key enzyme systems for metabolism and energy production. Always remember that if you are lactating or pregnant, your needs for iron increase. Adolescents and growing children also have increased needs for iron.
6. Rich Source of Folic Acid
Lentils are a good source of vitamin B-complex, such as folic acid or folate. The consumption of folic acid by pregnant women helps in the prevention of birth defects.
According to a study by Susan J. Duthie, at the Rowett Research Institute in Aberdeen, UK, lack of folic acid most often results in neural tube defects. Folate that is present in lentils helps in the formation of red blood cells, which is good for pregnant women, and also plays a key role in maintaining homocystine levels. Also, it is known to be effective against DNA damage and hypertension, which may result in cancer.
7. Weight Loss
Although lentils include all the beneficial nutrients such as protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals, they contain virtually no fat and are still low in calories. Just 1 cup of cooked lentils contain about 230 calories, but still leaves you feeling satisfied and full.