Lentils are the crown jewel of the legume family. Lentils are the go-to protein of vegans, because they contain few calories yet are packed with nutritional value – the ultimate combination. And that’s before mentioning how simple and quick lentils are to prepare, leaving you feeling full longer.
Before we dive into the juicy details, here’s a quick history lesson. Lentils are among the first crops to undergo agricultural processing in the east. Archeological evidence strongly suggests that lentils were consumed over 10,000 years ago, and the book of Genesis even contains a famous lentil stew transaction between Jacob and Esau.
Considering humans have been around for 2.5 million years, 10,000 years may not seem like such a long time – but consider that bread, everyone’s favorite carb, has also been in consumption for roughly 10,000 years. However, bread hasn’t been the subject of agricultural processing, which isn’t to say it didn’t undergo numerous other modifications over the years. In fact, modern day bread only vaguely resembles ancient bread, but lentils – those have remained practically the same.
If that doesn’t convince you of the crucial role of lentils in human history, consider that they were grown since before the agricultural revolution of the old world, and went on to form part of many cultures’ flagship dishes. Examples include Arabic mejadra, Indian Dal and Ethiopian yellow lentil stew (often given to babies as their first taste of solid food).
Thanks to their exceptional durability in times of drought, lentils are an easy crop to grow, and have always been considered relatively inexpensive. Most modern day lentils originate in Canada or India.
- Lentils are a great source of nutritional fiber.
- 100 gr of cooked lentils contain only 116 calories, and 25 gr of protein – making them the second best source of protein among legumes, after soy.
- Lentils are a great source of iron, magnesium and other minerals.
5 Health Benefits of Eating Lentils:
- Cholesterol management: Thanks to an abundance of nutritional fiber, lentils effectively decrease LDL (“bad cholesterol”) levels.
- Heart health: Consumption of magnesium and iron has been proven to benefit the flow of blood and oxygen throughout the body.
- Sugar levels: Nutritional fiber contains a low glycemic value, which helps stabilize blood sugar levels.
- Energy: The consumption of complex carbohydrates and high quality protein enables the body to burn energy (glucose) slowly.
- Weight loss: Lentils contain few calories, zero fat, and fiber that contributes to a lasting full sensation, making them a great food to consume for weight loss or to maintain a healthy weight.
Along with all of the wonderful benefits cited above, it’s important to be aware of lentils’ one shortcoming. Don’t fret though, since we’ll also tell you how to overcome it. Lentils contain anti-nutrients which limit the availability of some of the minerals they contain. However, by sprouting the lentils or placing them in water for a prolonged period of times, it’s possible to significantly decrease the effect of these anti-nutrients.
Lentils can be used in multiple ways: Use them to prepare special spreads, or add them to salads for an extra shot of protein. Lentils are also easily sprouted, further increasing their nutritional value.