Why You Should Be Eating Lentils
Are you vegan, plant-based, or thinking about making the transition over to eating a more vegetable rich diet but worry about where you’ll get high quality protein and other important nutrients if you give up eating meat or dairy? Enter: Why You Should Be Eating Lentils
What Are Lentils?
Lentils are a small seed shaped grain legume known as a pulse. That means they are harvested for for their seeds. They come in a variety of colors like red, black, green, and brown but this doesn’t take away from their health benefits. All are considered a superfood and have been named one of the healthiest foods on earth.
Growing up my grandmother always made lentil soup and we would pour it over spaghetti and dunk Italian bread into it. So good. Till this day it’s one of my favorite things to eat except now I use low sodium vegetable broth instead of beef or chicken stock.
Lentils can be made in a variety of recipes like soups, stews, poured over pasta, rice, quinoa, baked into vegetable patties, dips, and are famous in the Indian cuisine recipe, Dal. They can even be sprouted.
THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF EATING LENTILS
Eating a plant-based diet has long been associated with optimal health because it reduces a lot of the risks of disease we see on the rise today. Diseases like obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer to name a few. Loading up on quality food is key. When you start to lead a healthier lifestyle you want to eat foods that are nutritionally dense. Taking the time to get to know the food your eating is important as well because then you understand in all facets why what you’re eating is actually good for you. That is practicing mindfulness and it will benefit you on all levels: mind, body, spirit.
- Lentils are a leading source of plant-based protein. Just 1 cup of cooked lentils contains 18g. This helps build muscle, gives you energy and fuels you up properly making it easy on the stomach to digest.
- Fiber is super important. You do not want a backed up colon. You need to constantly be cleansing out your colon and going the bathroom regularly not with an urgency but aiming for at least twice a day. If you’re feeling “backed up” it’s because your diet is lacking in fiber. Fiber helps the bowels move and that’s critical in keeping healthy.
- Lentils are anti-inflammatory which helps keeps your blood sugar stable and helps prevent dry, dull, wrinkling or sagging skin.
- Lentils are low on the glycemic index which means they don’t spike up your blood sugar rapidly the way processed, sugary foods do. The potassium, calcium, and magnesium in lentils have been found to decrease blood pressure naturally.
- When you replace meat (high in saturated and trans fats) with a superfood, high in fiber and lean protein like lentils, you decrease your risk of heart disease. Lentils lower the bad cholesterol and don’t clog up the arteries.
- Eating lentils will keep you full longer, curbing your appetite, and keeping your sweet tooth at bay. Thus decreasing your intake on processed foods which in most cases, tend to cause weight gain.
- Because of the high fiber content, this helps keeps things moving in the digestive tract.
- Iron provides energy and a lot of people are iron deficient finding themselves crashing come 2 o’clock, feeling utterly exhausted. You need enough mineral iron in your body so anemia doesn’t occur. Your body needs iron to make the protein called hemoglobin. It’s super important to keep track of your iron intake when you’re eating a plant-based diet.
Lentils are a great substitute for meat and should generally be in your weekly meal routine because of all their health benefits. Incorporating more high fibrous foods like lentils will lower your risk of heart disease and give you the energy your body needs throughout the day without feeling like you’re in a food coma, sluggish, and worn down. And don’t be afraid to experiment with lentils! They are so versatile and don’t require a lot of time and prep to make. They’re low maintenance and will become a staple in your home.
My Baked Vegan Falafel recipe can be made with mashed lentils instead of chickpeas.
It is the total diet or overall eating pattern that is most important in disease prevention and achieving good health. It is better to eat a diet with a variety than to concentrate on individual foods as the key to good health.
Consuming large amounts of fiber may cause flatulence. Be sure to drink plenty of liquids as you increase your fiber intake. Do not try to get all of your fiber at one time, get a small amount at each meal or snack.
Gradually increase your fiber intake for 1 or 2 months to help prevent digestive discomfort as your body adjusts to the change. Increasing fiber intake without adequate fluid intake could lead to constipation. (Sourced medicalnewstoday.com)