Lentils come in many forms, including brown, green and split. Lentils are popular in India, where they used to make dhal, a lentil stew. Lentils are great with meats and also go well in salads and soups. The health benefits of lentils include intestinal health, cholesterol lowering, neural tube defect prevention and blood sugar control.
Lentils contain 678 calories per cup and 50g of protein, making then exceptionally high in protein compared to other legumes. One cup of lentils contains 230% of the daily value for folate and 112% for thiamin. Lentils are also a good source of iron and selenium. They also contain phosphorous, magnesium, manganese, copper and potassium.
Lentils Beans for Intestinal Health
All legumes are a rich source of fibre, both soluble and insoluble. Insoluble fibre helps increase stool weight, thereby preventing constipation and insoluble fibre helps attract water into the colon to soften stools. A high fibre diet can help prevent colon cancer, diverticular disease and other diseases of the bowel.
Lentils for Cholesterol Lowering and Reduced Heart Disease Risk
Another health benefit of lentils is related to their fibre content. Soluble fibre, found in legumes, helps mop up cholesterol in the digestive tract, thus preventing its absorption. In addition, legumes are rich in folate, which plays a role in homocysteine lowering and magnesium, which helps lower blood pressure.
Lentils for Blood Sugar Control
Soluble fibre can bind to sugars in the digestive tract and prevent their absorption. Legumes contain carbohydrate in an exceptionally low GI form, which means eating them can help improve blood glucose control, which can help in both the prevention and treatment of diabetes.
Lentils for Vegetarian Health
Legumes contain two very important ingredients often in short supply in vegetarian diets: iron and protein. Combining legumes with wholegrains, for example with rice, creates a complete protein (one that contains all 8 essential amino acids).
Lentils for prevention of neural tube defects
Because legumes are rich in folate, they have applications in preventing neural tube defects. Eating folate rich foods pre-pregnancy and during pregnancy can help the fetal spinal column to develop normally.
Legumes are on of the few plant foods that contain a high purine content. Purines are typically found in high protein animal foods. Foods high in purines can contribute to high uric acid levels, which increase the risk of uric acid kidney stones and an arthritic-like condition called gout. People with pre-existing gout or uric acid stones or those with elevated blood uric acid levels may need to reduce their intake of lentils.