Belong to the legume varieties, lentils are edible seeds or pulses that have been consumed much in Asian countries. Lentils include 2 halves that are covered in a husk and people can remove or keep the husk as a rich source of fiber. There are some popular kinds of lentils known as black lentils, brown lentils, red lentils, yellow lentils, yellow split peas, black-eyed pea, mung bean, macachiados lentils, soya beans, kidney beans, and French green lentils that are native to each other country but provide the same benefits of lentils.
Lentils are the rich source of protein, carbohydrates, dietary fiber, essential amino acids known as isoleucine and lysine, and various minerals including iron, copper, potassium, manganese, phosphorous, molybdenum, vitamin B1, folate, tryptophan, which makes the legume varieties ideal for supporting the heart health, managing diabetes, preventing cancer, improving digestion, aiding in weight loss, dealing with anemia, boosting the nervous health, and helping pregnant women prevent atherosclerosis.
At present, VKool.com would like to show you 15 health benefits of lentils, suggested recipes & side effects. All the mentioned benefits of lentils may explain how beneficial they are why people should include them in the daily diet. For those who don’t know or wonder what the benefits of lentils, just spend a few minutes reading the article to have more information!
15 Health Benefits Of Lentils, Suggested Recipes & Side Effects
1. Improve Heart Health
Improving the heart health is known as one of the important benefits of lentils. More clearly, they lower the risks of coronary heart disease that is dangerous for health. According to a research conducted on more than 15000 people in U.S., The Netherlands, Finland, Italy, Greece, Yugoslavia, and Japan about the relation between food intake patterns and the development of coronary heart disease, specific food patterns provided different results. More clearly, among U.S. countries with larger consumption of meat, Northern Europe with larger consumption of dairy products; Southern Europe with larger consumption of fishes, vegetables, legumes, and wine; and Japan with larger consumption of fish, cereals, and soy products, people in the areas with the high legume intake are associated with the reduction of the caused by heart disease up to 80%.
The benefits of lentils for the health also depend on their source of fiber. A study before indicated that people who eat much fiber, about 20g per day, experienced 11% fewer risks of cardiovascular disease and 12% fewer risks of in comparison with those who eat less fiber, about 5g a day. In addition, people who consume water-soluble dietary fiber experienced even 10% fewer risk of cardiovascular disease and 15% fewer risk of coronary heart disease.
Not only fiber but lentils also contain considerable amounts of magnesium and folate that are both beneficial for the heart health as well. More clearly, folate can lower levels of an amino called homocysteine that is considered an important product of the methylation cycle, an important metabolic process in the body. In fact, with the presence of folate or actually vitamin B6, homocysteine is certainly converted into methionine or cysteine that are both benign otherwise, the levels of homocysteine in the bloodstream may increase causing damages to artery walls as well as further heart disease.
About magnesium, it contributes the benefits of lentils to the cardiovascular system. As you know, magnesium is actually the calcium channel blocker, which is explained that the enough presence of magnesium helps relieve and relax the veins and arteries. In other words, this mineral can lessen resistance and support the blood flow throughout the body thereby bringing oxygen and necessary nutrients to every organ. Not only does magnesium help prevent the occurrence of the heart attack but it also supports the heart after the cases of the heart attack because its deficiency can cause free radical injury to your heart indeed. in conclusion, everyone should consume foods rich in magnesium like lentils as a natural way to support the heart heath.
A study of The National Center for Biotechnology Information NCBI conducted on lentils in 2014 showed that lentil-based diets help reduce hypertension and large-artery remodeling in spontaneously hypertensive rats.
2. Regulate Blood Sugar And Manage Diabetes
Another of the health benefits of lentils is regulating the sugar level in the bloodstream, which in turn prevents further dangerous diseases like diabetes. It has been said that if you suffered from diabetes type 2, you should follow a diet with regular consumption of lentils. The reason is that lentils that are high in soluble fiber can help lower insulin and plasma glucose thereby stabilizing the blood sugar. There have been also much research on the legume varieties finding out their effects on diabetes and the results have showed that their fiber contents help slow down the rate the blood absorb food thereby keeping the sugar level constant. In addition, lentils are low in the glycemic index meaning they are slowly digested while not causing blood sugar to spike. These are the reason why lentils are highly appreciated for diabetics like that.
3. Health Benefits Of Lentils – Lower Cholesterol
Lowering cholesterol is also one of the benefits of lentils for health. The relation between cholesterol level and low- density lipoprotein (LDL), the bad cholesterol, has been revealed. The research before showed that people who consume 3/4 cup of lentils or any kinds of legumes experienced 5% less generation of LDL cholesterol. In addition, lentils can satisfy up to 50% of your daily copper requirement, a mineral counteracting the enzyme called HMG- CoA reductase targeted by cholesterol medications.
4. Prevent Cancer
The benefits of lentils for health also include the ability to counteract cancer. According to a research before, it has been indicated that plant foods rich in protein like lentils, peas, soybeans, peanuts, and wheat can give a positive effect on the cancer cells. Moreover, lectins or protein can cause cytotoxicity and apoptosis meaning that they can manage the growth of cancer as well.
Another study of The National Center For Biotechnology Information conducted in 2007 also made a comparison among 9 legumes including lentils about their antioxidant activities and the results showed a positive look on lentils meaning the legumes are really effective in preventing cancer.
5. Health Benefits Of Lentils – Improve Digestion
Similar to other types of legume, lentils can also boost the digestive process. As mentioned above, lentils are very rich in dietary fiber, a non-digestible component that is beneficial in maintaining the digestion. Additionally, fiber can make the bowel movement easier thereby preventing the risk of constipation and other problems associated with digestion. It also removes toxins out of the body and ferments healthy bacteria essential for the digestive tract.
It is advised to follow a diet with 40% high- fiber foods as a way to stay healthy without constipation. And being rich in fiber, lentils deserve to be consumed on a regular basis indeed.
According to a study of The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), lentils were indicated to give positive effects on digestibility and the blood glucose response.
6. Aid In Weight Loss
Aiding in weight loss is another of the health benefits of lentils . People who go on a diet or vegetarians always wonder how to get full without satisfying starches. The answer is cuisines with much veggie and lentils are chosen by Indian to do the trick. It has been estimated that a cup of lentils contains just 230 calories but occupies up to 63% of your requirement for daily fiber and protein, the 2 components keeping you full for longer. Therefore, you should consume lentils in any flavorful dishes as a way to maintain portion control and healthy weight time to time.
7. Health Benefits Of Lentils – Boost Metabolism
Boosting metabolism is also one of the benefits of Lentils, which depends on the rich source of vitamins like vitamin B3 essential for improving the digestion and boosting the nervous systems. In addition, the vitamin helps stimulate the metabolic process meaning it removes more toxins and harmful substances out of the body and bring more nutrients to all the parts of the body. Vitamin B3 is also indicated to control cholesterol levels and decrease the risks of some diseases like diabetes, osteoarthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, and cataracts.
8. Support Brain Health
Supporting the brain health is another of the benefits of lentils for health. It is surprising that there is no kind of foods containing more folate than lentils because the just a cup of legume can occupy up to 90% of your daily requirement for folate that plays an important role in the production of neurotransmitters, which certainly boosts the nervous system functioning. In another aspect, folate or a complex B vitamin can help prevent the risks of birth defects in pregnant women and blood disorders in common, which makes it a key nutrient for the human health indeed.
If you have ever thought that micronutrients like vitamins and minerals don’t impact your brain or the nervous system, you may be wrong. The study before has indicated that vitamins and minerals presented in lentils are really beneficial for optimizing the brain functioning. So not only people with mental disorders but everyone should consume lentils in the daily diet to facilitate the most important organ of your body.
9. Improve Electrolytic Activity
The benefits of lentils also include the ability to improve electrolytic activity that plays an important role in the proper function of your body. Lentils contain a mineral called potassium that is considered an excellent substitute for electrolytic activity, which is even better than sodium. In fact, there are many diseases related to a high content of sodium or a low content of potassium in the body, so you should increase the intake of potassium- rich foods like lentils to restrict the occurrence. Not only does potassium act as an electrolyte but it is also beneficial for the functioning of some organs like the brain, heart, and kidney.
10. Health Benefits Of Lentils – Boost Energy
For those who need much energy for daily activities, lentils are really an excellent food. As mentioned above, lentils are very rich in minerals including iron and copper that are both essential in boosting energy production. While iron makes copper facilitate red blood cells and protect against anemia, copper plays a role in transferring energy from carbohydrates into the cells. In addition, the fiber found in copper can give slow burn of energy making you fueled and full for longer.
Learn also: Healthy & Delicious Vegetarian Salad Recipes
11. Tone Muscle
Toning muscle is also one of the benefits of lentils for health. As you know, every body organ and muscles require a constant protein supply for their repair and growth and lentils, fortunately, can satisfy this protein supply. Additionally, they have all a wide range of amino acids necessary for the muscle-building and proper function of the body.
12. Support Women’s Health
Lentils are considered as a healthy food for women, especially for pregnant and breastfeeding women. The first reason is that the legume is very rich in iron which is estimated that 200g of lentils can satisfy up to 36% of the daily requirement for iron in one person. Differing from red meat that also contains much iron, lentils can supply this mineral without any fats to the body. As you know, women always need a constant supply of iron for maintaining menstrual health and experiencing a healthy pregnancy. It is the reason why they should consume iron- rich foods like lentils, which is advised 27mg per day.
The benefits of lentils on pregnant women also depend on their source of folate or Vitamin B as mentioned above. Folate plays an important role in preventing birth defects or a lack of this folic acid can cause neural tube defects. In addition, it stimulates the formation of red blood cells and maintains homocysteine levels, which is beneficial for pregnant women indeed. Folate also restricts the risks of hypertension and DNA damage even cancer as well.
13. Tips For Preparing Lentils
If you want to include lentils in your daily diet t take the best benefits of lentils for health, you should prepare them well. Firstly, it is not necessary to presoak lentils before the day of serving as other legumes and you can process them anytime. Secondly, lentils should be spread on a light colored plate and cooking surface to eliminate excess stones or debris before washed. After that, you should place the legumes in a strainer then rinse them again with cool running water.
14. Tips To Cook Lentils
To boil lentils, you need to use 3 cups of water for a cup of lentils and it will be better if lentils are placed in already boiling water than heating them into the water until boiling. When the water starts boiling, decrease the heat to simmer regime and cover the cooker. The time of boiling is recommended 30 minutes for green lentils and 20 minutes for red ones.
In addition, the cooking time can be flexibly adjusted according to the last using target. If you intend to use lentils in a soup or salad, which desires a firmer texture, you should remove them from the boiling liquid when they gain this consistency, usually 5-10 minutes earlier than normal. Or if you want to make dal or something requiring a mushier consistency, you should last long the boiling process 10 to 15 minutes to achieve this texture.
Some easy recipes:
- Make a cold salad of chopped sweet peppers and cooked lentils then flavor it with some additional favorite herbs and spices.
- Make Moroccan lentil soup by cooking lentils then adding diced your favorite vegetables and flavor with cumin, soy sauce, cayenne coriander, and turmeric.
- Add cooked lentils, leeks, and small broccoli florets to buckwheat soba noodles then mix them together. Season the mixture with olive oil, garlic, and ginger.
15. Possible Side Effects
Beside various benefits of lentils for health, you should pay attention to some possible side effects when consuming the legumes. And although they can be consumed alternative to meat, poultry, or fish, they also own some disadvantages as follows:
Kidney Stones: The consumption of lentils can cause the risks of kidney stones in some cases. It has been shown that some kinds of lentils like soybeans, re-fried beans, soy foods, and peanut butter contain a high number of oxalate compounds that are possible to form kidney stones. So, people should consume lentils at a moderate rate and those who already have kidney stones have to avoid legumes and lentils.
Kidney Diseases: not only kidney stones but further kidney diseases are also possible side effects of lentils. In fact, the over- consumption of protein take a stress on the kidney preventing from eliminating toxins from your body, which is one of the main causes of kidney stones. You should remember that the average amount of protein for each body is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight, so don’t take in more than this number.
Fermentation and the formation of Gas: After consuming lentils, you can find some discomfort in your stomach because lentils can ferment and then release gas. As you know, gas is actually the matter of digestion. So, if you consume lentils, you should chew them slowly and avoid a large amount.
In brief, it can’t be denied the benefits of lentils for the health but everybody should be aware how to consume the legumes to take advantages and avoid unexpected side effects.
After reading the article on 15 health benefits of lentils, suggested recipes & side effects in our main Health page, hope that you can know how beneficial the kind of legumes is so that consuming it properly in the normal routine. Please let us know if you have any question by leaving them below and share with us other health benefits of lentils if you know more.