Lentils Nutritional Information
Nutrition in Lentils, Lentils Health Benefits
Lentils are legumes, also called pulses, seeds of a plant whose botanical name is Lens ensculenta. They grow in pods that contain either one or two lentil seeds. Lentils are classified according to whether they are large or small in size with dozens of varieties of each being cultivated.
While the most common types in the United States are either green lentils or brown lentils, lentils are also available in black, yellow, red and orange colors. These round, oval or heart-shaped disks are small in size, oftentimes smaller than the tip of a pencil eraser. They are sold whole or split into halves. The different types offer varying consistencies with the brown and green lentils better retaining their shape after cooking, while the others generally become soft and mushy. While the flavor differs slightly among the varieties, they generally feature a hearty dense somewhat nutty flavor.
Lentils 101 - Clean Eating
Quick, easy to prepare
Compared to other types of dried beans, lentils are relatively quick and easy to prepare. They readily absorb a variety of wonderful flavors from other foods and seasonings, are high in nutritional value and are available throughout the year.
Lentils are legumes along with other types of beans. They grow in pods that contain either one or two lentil seeds that are round, oval or heart-shaped disks and are oftentimes smaller than the tip of a pencil eraser. They may be sold whole or split into halves with the brown and green varieties being the best at retaining their shape after cooking.
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Tiny but nutritionally mighty member of the legume family, lentils are a very good source of cholesterol-lowering fiber. Lentils are one of those unassuming foods that are often overlooked in our diets and on restaurant menus. This is beginning to change, and as myriad of health benefits that come from these little legumes, I have prepared these delicious lentil recipes to be enjoyed by all ages.
These recipes are enjoyed by my family members, and the results are miraculous, more energy, better diet and better health for all. Not only do lentils help lower cholesterol, they are of special benefit in managing blood-sugar disorders since their high fiber content prevents blood sugar levels from rising rapidly after a meal. Incorporating this food into our diets will help treat and prevent a range of different health problems. Lentils also provide excellent amounts of important minerals, two B-vitamins, and protein, all with virtually no fat. But this is far from all lentils have to offer. Here are the health benefits offered by this tiny nutritional giant that is lentil.
Have You Ever Eaten Lentils?
Lentils Nutrition Benefits
Lentils are high in fiber and low in calories
Lentils, a small but nutritionally dense member of the legume family, are a very good source of cholesterol-lowering fiber. Not only do lentils help lower cholesterol, they are of special benefit in managing blood-sugar disorders since their high fiber content prevents blood sugar levels from rising rapidly after a meal. Lentils also provide good to excellent amounts of six important minerals, two B-vitamins, and protein-all with virtually no fat. The calorie cost of all this nutrition is just 230 calories for a whole cup of cooked lentils.
Lentils, like other beans, are rich in dietary fiber, both the soluble and insoluble type. Soluble fiber forms a gel-like substance in the digestive tract that snares bile (which contains cholesterol)and ferries it out of the body. Research studies have shown that insoluble fiber not only helps to increase stool bulk and prevent constipation, but also helps prevent digestive disorders like irritable bowel syndrome and diverticulosis.
Jewish recipes using lentils - very unique find
From Publishers Weekly
Abadi inherited both Ashkenazi and Sephardic cuisines from her two grandmothers, and presents here the lesser known treasures from her Syrian Grandma Fritzie in a down-to-earth Middle Eastern cookbook that goes beyond the typical hummus and falafel. All recipes are kosher and many are suitable for holidays: Lamb with Lemon and Olives for Rosh Hashana or Stuffed Squash with Lemon-Mint Sauce for special Sabbaths. Many dishes, like Spinach-Mint Soup or Crushed Wheat with Chickpeas and Pot Cheese are easy for everyday light and even vegetarian meals. This well-rounded cookbook explains, in a glossary, ingredients such as tamarind paste and phyllo, provides a list of specialty stores and a menu planner, and guides the cook from appetizers, such as Eggplant Dip with Pine Nuts, to desserts (Flourless Pistachio Cookies, which are perfect for Passover), and from formal (Orange Chicken with Golden Raisins and Figs), to casual (Syrian Grilled Cheese Sandwich with Mint). Never overdone, flavors appear in combinations surprising to the typical North American palate, such as Stuffed Baby Eggplants with Apricots and Meat, and Eggs with Rhubarb. For Syrian Jewish women, cooking is an art form, shared among neighbors and families but closely guarded from outsiders. Luckily, Abadi offers these secrets in her book.
Lentils Nutrition Helps Prevent Heart Disease
Lentils are a high fiber and nutritional food
In a study that examined food intake patterns and risk of death from coronary heart disease, researchers followed more than 16,000 middle-aged men in the U.S., Finland, The Netherlands, Italy, former Yugoslavia, Greece and Japan for 25 years. Typical food patterns were: higher consumption of dairy products in Northern Europe; higher consumption of meat in the U.S.; higher consumption of vegetables, legumes, fish, and wine in Southern Europe; and higher consumption of cereals, soy products, and fish in Japan. When researchers analyzed this data in relation to the risk of death from heart disease, they found that legumes were associated with a whopping 82% reduction in risk!!
A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine confirms that eating high fiber foods, such as lentils, helps prevent heart disease. Almost 10,000 American adults participated in this study and were followed for 19 years. People eating the most fiber, 21 grams per day, had 12% less coronary heart disease (CHD) and 11% less cardiovascular disease (CVD) compared to those eating the least, 5 grams daily. Those eating the most water-soluble dietary fiber fared even better with a 15% reduction in risk of CHD and a 10% risk reduction in CVD.
Lentils' nutrition is a contribution to heart health that lies not just in their fiber, but in the significant amounts of folate and magnesium these little wonders supply. Folate helps lower levels of homocysteine, an amino acid that is an intermediate product in an important metabolic process called the methylation cycle. When folate (as well as vitamin B6) are around, homocysteine is immediately converted into cysteine or methionine, both of which are benign. When these B vitamins are not available, levels of homocysteine increase in the bloodstream--a bad idea since homocysteine damages artery walls and is considered a serious risk factor for heart disease.
Lentils' magnesium puts yet another plus in the column of its beneficial cardiovascular effects. Magnesium is Nature's own calcium channel blocker. When enough magnesium is around, veins and arteries breathe a sigh of relief and relax, which lessens resistance and improves the flow of blood, oxygen and nutrients throughout the body. Studies show that a deficiency of magnesium is not only associated with heart attack but that immediately following a heart attack, lack of sufficient magnesium promotes free radical injury to the heart.
This book presents the most comprehensive and up-to-date review of research on lentil production systems, biotic and abiotic stress management, quality seed production, storage techniques and lentils growing around the world.
Lentils High In Iron
Lentils give you energy
In addition to its beneficial effects on the digestive system and the heart, soluble fiber helps stabilize blood sugar levels. If you have insulin resistance, hypoglycemia or diabetes, legumes like lentils can really help you balance blood sugar levels while providing steady, slow-burning energy. Studies of high fiber diets and blood sugar levels have shown the dramatic benefits provided by these high fiber foods.
Researchers compared two groups of people with type 2 diabetes who were fed different amounts of high fiber foods. One group ate the standard American Diabetic diet, which contains with 24 grams of fiber/day, while the other group ate a diet containing 50 grams of fiber/day. Those who ate the diet higher in fiber had lower levels of both plasma glucose (blood sugar) and insulin (the hormone that helps blood sugar get into cells). The high fiber group also reduced their total cholesterol by nearly 7%, their triglyceride levels by 10.2% and their VLDL (Very Low Density Lipoprotein--the most dangerous form of cholesterol)levels by 12.5%.
In addition to providing slow burning complex carbohydrates, lentils can increase your energy by replenishing your iron stores. Particularly for menstruating women, who are more at risk for iron deficiency, boosting iron stores with lentils is a good idea--especially because, unlike red meat, another source of iron, lentils are not rich in fat and calories. Iron is an integral component of hemoglobin, which transports oxygen from the lungs to all body cells, and is also part of key enzyme systems for energy production and metabolism. And remember: If you're pregnant or lactating, your needs for iron increase. Growing children and adolescents also have increased needs for iron.
Lentils are mentioned in the Bible
Lentils are believed to have originated in central Asia, having been consumed since prehistoric times. They are one of the first foods to have ever been cultivated. Lentil seeds dating back 8000 years have been found at archeological sites in the Middle East. Lentils were mentioned in the Bible both as the item that Jacob traded to Esau for his birthright and as a part of a bread that was made during the Babylonian captivity of the Jewish people.
For millennia, lentils have been traditionally been eaten with barley and wheat, three foodstuffs that originated in the same regions and spread throughout Africa and Europe during similar migrations and explorations of cultural tribes. Before the 1st century AD, they were introduced into India, a country whose traditional cuisine still bestows high regard for the spiced lentil dish known as dal. In many Catholic countries, lentils have long been used as a staple food during Lent. Currently, the leading commercial producers of lentils include India, Turkey, Canada, China and Syria.
How to Store Lentils
Dried lentils, canned lentils
- Lentils are generally available in prepackaged containers as well as bulk bins. Just as with any other food that you may purchase in the bulk section, make sure that the bins containing the lentils are covered and that the store has a good product turnover so as to ensure its maximal freshness. Whether purchasing lentils in bulk or in a packaged container, make sure there is no evidence of moisture or insect damage and that the lentils are whole and not cracked.
- Canned lentils can be found in some grocery stores and most natural foods markets. Unlike canned vegetables, which have lost much of their nutritional value, there is little difference in the nutritional value of canned lentils and those you cook yourself. Canning lowers vegetables' nutritional value since they are best lightly cooked for a short period of time, while their canning process requires a long cooking time at high temperatures. On the other hand, beans require a long time to cook whether they are canned or you cook them yourself. Therefore, if enjoying lentils is more convenient for you, by all means go ahead and enjoy them. We would suggest looking for those that do not contain extra salt or additives.
- Store lentils in an airtight container in a cool, dry and dark place. Stored this way, they will keep for up to 12 months. If you purchase lentils at different times, store them separately since they may feature varying stages of dryness and therefore will require different cooking times. Cooked lentils will keep fresh in the refrigerator for about three days if placed in a covered container.
Lentils can be prepared the day of serving since they do not need to be presoaked. Before washing lentils you should spread them out on a light colored plate or cooking surface to check for, and remove, small stones or debris. After this process, place the lentils in a strainer, and rinse them thoroughly under cool running water.
For cooking lentils, use three cups of liquid for each cup of lentils. Lentils placed in already boiling water will be easier to digest than those that were brought to a boil with the water. When the water returns to a boil, turn down the heat to simmer and cover. Green lentils usually take 30 minutes, while red lentils require 20 minutes.
These cooking times can be slightly adjusted depending upon the final use. If you are going to be serving lentils in a salad or soup and desire a firmer texture, remove them from the stove top when they have achieved this consistency--typically 5-10 minutes earlier than their usual cooking time. If you are making dal or some preparation that requires a mushier consistency, achieving this texture may take an additional 10-15 minutes.
A Few Quick Serving Ideas:
- Combine cooked lentils, and chopped sweet peppers to make a delicious cold salad. Season with your favorite herbs and spices.
- Toss buckwheat soba noodles with cooked lentils, small broccoli florets and leeks. Dress with olive oil mixed with garlic and ginger.
- Moroccan lentil soup is easy to make. After cooking lentils, add diced vegetables of your choice and season with tamari, coriander, cumin, turmeric and cayenne.
Lentils Nutritional Values Chart, Lentils Calories
% Daily Value
vitamin B1 (thiamin)
How to cook perfect lentils
Lentils Recipe-Middle Eastern Lentil Soup
Easy to make lentils recipe
- 1 cup dried lentils
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 teaspoon fennel seed
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper, (cayenne)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 Tablespoon lemon juice, fresh
- fresh parsley
- 1/2 cup plain yogurt
- Rinse lentils, discard any debris or blemished lentils; drain.
- Heat oil in large saucepan over medium-high heat until hot. Add onion and bell pepper; cook and stir five minutes or until tender. Add fennel seed, cumin and ground red pepper; cook and stir one minute.
- Add four cups water and lentils. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer 20 minutes.
- Stir in salt. Simmer five to ten minutes more or until lentils are tender.
- Refrigerate, covered, overnight or up to two days
- To complete recipe, heat the soup again, over medium heat until hot. Stir in lemon juice.
- While soup is heating, chop enough parsley to measure two-tablespoons; stir into yogurt. Serve soup topped with yogurt mixture. For a special touch, top each serving with yellow bell pepper strips.
Lentils Recipe-Creamy Lentil Dip
Easy lentils dip for yourself or company
- 1/2 cup dried lentils
- 2 to 3 cups water, fresh filtered or spring
- 1-1/2 cups vegetable broth
- 2 to 3 Tablespoons dry white wine
- 1/2 cup low-fat sour cream, (or yogurt)
- 1/4 cup celery, minced
- 1/4 cup sweet red bell pepper, minced
- Make lentil puree first. Rinse lentils, then let soak in filtered water overnight. Drain and discard water.
- In medium saucepan combine lentils and broth. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Cover, reduce heat to low and cook 25 to 30 minutes or until very tender. Drain lentils and refrigerate remaining broth for another use.
- Using blender, puree half the lentils with the wine. Add remaining lentils and continue to puree until smooth, thick paste forms. If puree is too thick, add a little extra wine. Refrigerate until ready to use.
- To make dip use one cup lentil puree. Reserve remaining puree for another use. To puree add sour cream, celery and bell pepper. Mix well. Refrigerate until ready to use. Serve with baskets of mixed tortilla chips and or pita bread strips.
- Recipe makes about two cups dip.
What's for Dinner? Lentils and Rice Recipe
Legumes as a Staple of Diet
Around the world, legumes are often a staple of diet because they are a cheap form of protein that can be kept dried indefinitely and reconstituted using water.
- Lentils Soup Recipes
Looking for more recipes for nutritious lentils. This page has several interesting but easy to make recipes for lentil soup.
- How to Make Fresh Hummus Using Dried Garbanzo Beans
This recipe walks you through making fresh hummus from dried chick peas and is easy enough to do with young children.
© 2009 Paula Atwell