Lentils are a healthy powerhouse. Today registered dietician, Zannat Reza from Food For Happiness give us 15 healthy reasons to add lentils to your diet. You'll be blown away by what they bring to your diet!
This post is brought to you by Canadian Lentils. Learn more about how you can get creative with lentils and take part in the Lentils Recipe Revelation Challenge.
Quick! Name a pantry staple that is convenient and delivers big-time health benefits. If you said lentils, you’re right. These culinary gems are a must-have in every kitchen. Lentils are fuss-free as there’s no need to soak them before cooking. Cooking lentils is as easy as 1-2-3 (rinse, boil and season). Whether you’ve got red, green or black lentils, you can whip up a delicious, healthy meal in no time at all.
You’ve probably heard that lentils contain heavy hitters such as protein and fibre. But there’s so much more to lentils. According to Canada’s Food Guide, one serving is ¾ cup of cooked lentils. Each serving contains a powerhouse of goodness.
1. Lentils Contain Protein
With 19 grams of hunger-busting protein in every serving, lentils supply your body with the protein needed for muscle repair that takes place every day. Protein also helps curb your hunger and appetite for several hours after a meal.
2. Lentils are a Very High Source of Fibre
With 12 grams of fibre in each serving, lentils help slow down digestion and helps you feel full. (Note: women need 25 grams of fibre a day, men need 38 grams a day).
3. Lentils are Gluten Free
If you’ve got celiac disease or are gluten intolerant, lentils can be part of your eating repertoire.
4. Lentils Are Naturally low in sodium.
Great news for those with high blood pressure, dried lentils have virtually no sodium. If you’re using canned lentils, be sure to rinse and drain well to keep sodium in check.
5. Lentils Are A Good Source of potassium:
Potassium is the yang to sodium’s yin, meaning it can help lower blood pressure. Lentils are considered high in potassium.
6. Lentils Contain Over 100% of your daily folate needs:
One serving of lentils contains more than 100% of your daily needs for folate. How fantastic is that! Folate helps your body make red blood cells and keeps your heart healthy.
7. Lentils are an Excellent source of iron:
Iron is key to getting oxygen around your body. Because lentils are a vegetarian source of iron, you need to combine it with a vitamin C-rich food so your body can absorb it properly. Pairing it with tomatoes, lemon juice or peppers will do the trick.
8. Lentils are an Excellent source of manganese:
Manganese often flies under the radar but this multi-talented nutrient is a key player in blood clotting, calcium absorption and regulating blood sugar levels, among other things. Manganese is also needed for your brain and nerves to work properly.
9. Lentils are a Good source of vitamin B6 and thiamin:
These B vitamins help your body unlock energy from carbohydrates and protein.
10. Lentils are a Good source of magnesium:
Magnesium helps keep your heart healthy and lowers blood pressure. It’s also important for keeping your muscles, bone and nerves in order.
11. Lentils Are a Good source of zinc:
Zinc strengthens your immune system and helps your body develop properly.
12. Lentils Are A Source of selenium:
Selenium plays a key role in keeping your immune system in shape.
13. Lentils Are Good for your heart.
The soluble fibre in lentils helps lower LDL (or bad) blood cholesterol levels by interfering with your body’s ability to absorb cholesterol from foods. This makes lentils a heart healthy food.
14. Lentils Help Keep your blood sugar level even.
The dynamic duo of protein and fibre make lentils a low glycemic index food. This means it slowly releases sugar into the bloodstream, which is great news for everyone and especially people with diabetes.
15. Lentils Help With keeping a lower body weight.
Studies have shown that people who eat foods like lentils have a lower body weight.
(Note: all nutrient values and comparisons are based on ¾ cup cooked lentils; protein & fibre numbers sourced from Pulse Canada, all else from Canadian Nutrient File)
If you’re looking for more reasons to love lentils, they are also a low cost alternative to meat. You can easily swap in lentils for meat or make your meat dishes go further. This stuffed spaghetti squash dish is a great example of using a lentil meat sauce to boost the protein and fibre content of your meal. As well, adding lentils to a sweet dish counters the sugar hit to your body, like in these lentil brownies.
Lentils are also a great Canadian food story, with Saskatchewan as the leading lentil-growing province. In fact, Canada is the largest exporter of lentils to the rest of the world. So, show your true, patriot love and power up your body with lentils.
Have you got a great, creative lentil recipe? You could win some great prizes (a $2500 grand prize and 4 runner up prizes of a $750 amazon gift card each). Get all the details for the Lentil Recipe Revelations Challenge with Canadian Lentils!
15 Healthy Reasons to Love Lentils was written by Zannat Reza of Food For Happiness. Zannat is a Registered Dietician and food and communications expert who works with clients like Health Canada, Ontario Minsitry of Health and Long Term Care, Dairy Farmers of Canada and more.