Lentils are legumes grownthroughout the year all around the world, and their small round, heart-shapedor oval seeds come from pods and can be green, brown, black, yellow, orange andred in color. They have a slightly nutty flavor and they have been known fortheir nutritional values for centuries.
Health Benefits of Lentils
Lentils are abundant in iron thatbenefits women during their menstrual period, pregnancy and breast-feeding, andwhich is also valuable for the growth in childhood and adolescence. Further itsupplies the necessary energy. High protein content also makes lentils usefulfor the nutrition of children. Lentils are an excellent source of solubleand insoluble fibers. Soluble fibers regulate the cholesterol levels in theblood by enabling the removal of bile from the body. Thus, they help preventheart-related problems. Diabetics and persons with hypoglycemia and insulinresistance get their blood sugar levels stabilized thanks to the balancingpowers of soluble fiber. It also supplies the body with energy. Insolublefibers aid evacuation and prevent constipation, diverticulitis (a condition inwhich a pouch-like formations appear on the colon wall) and irritable bowelsyndrome.
Lentils are also rich inmagnesium and a vitamin called folate, both beneficial for to the heart. Folateprotects the heart by decreasing homo-cysteine, which has a detrimental effecton the heart and arteries. Resistance to free blood, oxygen and nutrient flowthrough the body is decreased thanks to the magnesium from lentils. Lentils are an excellent source ofmolybdenum, very good source of manganese and a good source of potassium,copper and vitamin B1.
Before cooking lentils, thoroughcleaning is essential, while cracked and damaged seeds should be removed.Lentils can be either soaked or cooked immediately after washing them undercold running water. The ratio of cups of lentils to cups of water needed forcooking is 1 to 3, but it should be known that lentils are better digested ifcooked in boiling water instead of allowing them to boil with the water.Cooking time for red lentils is 20 minutes, while green lentils need 30 minutesto cook. If using lentils as a salad or soup ingredient, they can be cooked5-10 minutes shorter than the recommended time. Canned lentils are alsoavailable on the market but it should be noted that canning requires cookingvegetables at high temperatures, which knocks off the nutritional value offood.
Purine-sensitive people areadvised to be carefully about their lentil intake. Purines are substances thatcan cause the build-up of uric acid resulting in kidney stones and gout. Still,purines found in plants have far lesser adverse impact on human health comparedto purines from meat and fish.