Lentils are among the world’s best legumes and staples in many parts of the world. Use this article to learn about the various types of lentils available, their nutritional profile, their benefits, how to cook them, and any other piece of information.
If you were to visit India, North Africa, America, and Europe, you would not be surprised to realize that almost all their restaurants have lentils as a main aspect of the menu. These are legumes available in various colors, including puy, green, and yellow, and can be found in groceries with or without husks. Because they are rich in proteins and fibers, lentils are quite famous and an important aspect of the diet. Keep reading to know everything you need to know about lentils.
Types of lentils
As precious legumes valued across the world, lentils are available in different types, including;
Black in appearance and resembling caviar, these lentils are used as a major base in preparing warm salads.
This is the most common type of lentils, and you are likely familiar with it. It is used mainly in preparing stews in kitchens. Having the unique ability to keep their shape throughout the cooking period, brown lentils are great and have a characteristic earthy flavor.
Red and yellow
If you are a fan of dal, the red and yellow lentils must be great for you. Preparing these lentils is easy as you just split and go into fast cooking them. Besides, the red and yellow lentils are sweet to eat and have a unique taste resembling nuts.
Are you wondering why lentils would be described as puy? Well, this is a description used for lentils whose origin is the French LePuy region. About a third of this class of lentils are green and possess a unique peppery taste.
This is also a common category of lentils. You can find various sizes, all of which make great recipes. If you like using Puy lentils but find them expensive, green lentils might just be the right substitute you need.
While all the above-described types make good lentils that can be used for different recipes, each contains different types and likely amounts of phytochemicals and antioxidants, which might inform a person’s choice apart from the dish being prepared.
The nutritional profile of lentils
One reason why people across the globe cherish lentils as a component of the diet is because these legumes are not just easy to incorporate into the diet but boast of a rich nutritional profile. Below are some of the major constituents of great nutrients and dietary components found in lentils;
Lentils are among the greatest legumes when it comes to the heavy package of fiber in them. In any type of lentils you take, you will reap both soluble and insoluble fibers, all of which have a role in the human body. For the human body to have balanced blood sugar levels and cholesterol levels, soluble fibers are needed. These help minimize the chances of suffering from stroke and diabetes. The insoluble fibers make great food and environment for the gut microbiota and also prevent constipation and other digestive issues.
Lentils are rich in calories, with protein constituting 26% of these. These proteins are a great energy source and useful in weight management. They help a person keep full long after eating. As if that’s not enough, proteins are the primary building blocks of cells, tissues, and organs, which basically constitute life.
Vitamins and minerals
If you thought that vitamins can only be found in fruits and vegetables, you might be surprised to learn that some legumes like lentils are also a great source of vitamins and minerals. Lentils boast of magnesium, a critical mineral that helps in maintaining a steady flow of blood.
Vitamin B deficiency is common, especially among pregnant women and other groups of people who might need it the most. Yet, taking lentils provides your body with about 90% of the folate you need daily. This helps pregnant women to facilitate the newborns with the needed nutrients for cellular development.
The nutritional package of lentils does not end at that. Other key dietary components you can enjoy by taking lentils include iron, pantothenic acid, niacin, calories, fats, thiamine, and carbs, all of which the body needs.
Health benefits of taking lentils
In nutrition and dietetics, the nutritional profile of a given type of food usually says a lot about the food’s health potentials. So is the case with lentils; they are quite beneficial because of their rich nutritional profile. Besides, the antioxidants and phytochemicals in lentils add more value to them and boost their nutritional value. Here are some of the health benefits of taking lentils;
- Blood sugar and cholesterol control; some studies link the soluble fibers in lentils to a check of cholesterol and blood sugar levels, which in turn lowers a person’s risk of contracting stroke and heart diseases.
- Controlling Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and other digestive issues; the insoluble fibers in lentils help reduce the risk of IRS and other common digestive issues.
- Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits; lentils are rich in phytochemicals, including flavanols. These have been found to have powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant abilities. Some lab results even show that these phytochemicals can help with cancer control.
The other piece of information you likely want to have is how lentils are cooked. It may come as good news to you that cooking lentils is an easy process that typically takes your 20-30minutes only. Unlike most legumes which require soaking, you don’t have to soak lentils. Still, you might want to soak them overnight to reduce antinutrients such as lectins, trypsin, and phytic acid. Once split, put the lentils in a pot, add water and a pinch of salt, and boil for 5minutes while covered. After this, you can uncover them and let them simmer for 15-20minutes. You could rinse them with cold water because they can continue cooking even after removing them from heat.
Lentils are great legumes that you might want to incorporate into your diet. They vary in types and include green and puy lentils, but they are all great proteins. This article has shared all you need to know about lentils, include the nutritional profile, health benefits, types of lentils, and even how to cook them.