10 Lentils Nutrition Facts And Health Benefits
Whenever it comes to having Indian flatbread and rice in South Asian countries, lentils are a common food staple. Found in almost every household, this protein-rich pulse is a must-have vegan food for abundant health benefits.
Belonging to the legume family, lentils are edible seeds. Not just in South Asian countries, lentils are widely consumed worldwide and are a common food staple in Turkey, Jordan, Morocco, and other countries. Lentils are available in different colors and each has its own benefits. The following are some nutrition facts and important health benefits associated with this plant-based protein.
Lentils Nutrition Facts
Lentils are low-cost, highly nutritious food staples. For example, they're a powerhouse of vitamin potassium, zinc, magnesium, fiber, and vitamin B. Lentils are also a great source of minerals such as iron. Here are some general nutritional benefits of lentils (cooked, boiled, without salt). Here are the nutritional facts of 100 grams of lentils:
- Protein: 9.02 g
- Vitamin B6: 0.178 mg
- Fiber: 7.9 g
- Carbs: 20.1 g
- Folate: 181 µg
- Iron: 3.33 mg
- Potassium: 369 mg
- Magnesium: 36 mg
- Zinc: 1.27 mg
- Copper: 0.251 mg
- Phosphorous: 180 mg
- Manganese: 0.49 mg
- Fat: 0.38 g
Apart from the mentioned nutrients, lentils are also a source of niacin, selenium, pantothenic acid, riboflavin, etc. Thus, if you want a healthy balanced diet, adding lentils is a wise choice.
Amazing Health Benefits of Lentils
Packed with nutrients, lentils are a rich source of plant-based protein and fiber. Not just limited to protein and fiber, nutrient-rich lentils have amazing health benefits. Let's discuss a few of them.
1. Full of Polyphenols
Polyphenols - active compounds that help the body fight against various harmful agents. Harmful agents include UV rays, agents that may lead to heart disease and other chronic illnesses.
Having lentils, a polyphenol-rich food provides long-lasting health benefits. Polyphenols in lentils have antioxidant, antibacterial, antiviral, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory properties. Not just that, it has been noted for its anticancer, antidiabetic, nephroprotective, anti-obesity, and various other activities. As per the studies, including lentils in the diet may lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risks of cancer.
2. Lowers Blood Pressure
We know that in order to lower high blood pressure, we need to add food rich in potassium. And, lentils are a good source of potassium. Consumption of lentils loads the body with potassium, leading to the excretion of excess sodium from the body. Eventually, lowered blood pressure.
According to the studies of DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension), pulses such as lentils in diet help lower blood pressure. Only 100 grams of split red lentils have potassium more than a banana. Additionally, lentils are a great source of protein, making them a perfect substitute for red meat for patients with high blood pressure.
3. Protects Heart
Protecting the heart is very crucial as it pumps blood and helps the body function. An easy to prepare and delicious to have, lentils are one of the heart-healthy foods that you must include in your diet. It helps fight against various diseases and protects your heart.
Lentils have folate that protects the heart. On top of that, it supports the formation of red blood cells. Rich in folate, fiber, iron, and vitamin B1, lentils support your heart health. Consumption of lentils helps lower cholesterol and blood pressure too. This is associated with lower risks of heart disease and other chronic disease.
4. Supports Digestive System
Here's another reason to love lentils. Lentils are one of the high-fiber foods that support the digestive tract by feeding good bacteria in the gut.
Fiber helps the digestive system work as it should and protects against various diseases. Fiber also helps in reducing the risks of colorectal cancer. According to research, fiber is essential to regulate bowel movement and boost the immune system. Fibrous foods such as lentils keep us active and healthy as it helps maintain strong gut health. Having lentils prevents constipation, gas, bloating, etc. Fiber in the food absorbs water which helps in digestion and elimination.
5. Stabilizes Blood Sugar
Lentils are ranked 'low' in glycemic index. Low glycemic foods are excellent for those who need to keep watch on their blood sugar levels. Moreover, lentils are high in fiber and fiber helps stabilize blood sugar.
Fiber in the lentils prevents spikes in glucose levels. It does so by slowing down the release of carbs. Prevention of spikes in glucose levels is essential to those suffering from diabetes and those with insulin resistance and hypoglycemia. With a low glycemic index and high fiber content, lentils are the perfect food to stabilize blood sugar.
6. Helps Fight Cancer
According to research, the consumption of food with phytoestrogens is linked with a decreased risk of cancer. It helps prevent hormone-related cancers, such as breast cancer. The good news, lentils contain phytoestrogens.
Western lifestyles have more fat and meat in the diet with less fiber. This makes the individuals prone to various diseases including cancer. The inclusion of plant-based foods in the diet results in a lower incidence of cancer. Lentils are amongst the top plant-based protein foods. Along with that, the fiber content in lentils makes it a perfect food to be included in a plant-based diet and prevent various diseases.
7. Aids In Weight Loss
If you are looking to lose weight and maintain a healthy weight, include plant-based foods in the diet. Moreover, lentils are the best plant-based healthy foods you can add to your diet.
Multiple snacking leads to putting on weight. Foods like lentils that are rich in fiber keep you full and satisfied. This reduces the urge to snack. Reduced snacking is directly linked with the maintenance of a healthy weight. The lower the risk of obesity, lower the risk of diabetes, and other health issues caused by unhealthy weight. Thus, include lentils, a plant-based nutritious food in the healthy balanced diet plan and achieve the desired weight.
8. Prevents Anemia
Anemia is a health condition caused by iron deficiency. Symptoms of anemia include fatigue, weakness, dizziness, pale skin, insomnia, etc. This condition can be improved or prevented by having lentils.
As a iron-rich food, lentils help prevent anemia. Iron is essential to the body as it is stored in the red blood cell which is responsible for transporting oxygen to the body. Lack of iron leads to a lack of required oxygen in the body and eventually to various health symptoms and sometimes chronic illness.
9. Pregnancy-friendly Food
All of the nutrients essential for a healthy pregnancy are available in lentils. Nutrients such as iron, folate, protein, and fiber are available in huge amounts in lentils. Lentils are pregnancy superfoods that serve iron to the body and prevent constipation. Folate is recommended for women trying to conceive or pregnant to prevent birth defects. It prevents birth defects such as spina bifida, and anencephaly.
Iron is also important during pregnancy because it results in an increase in blood volume. With an increase of 30% in red blood cells during pregnancy, iron is essential to supply oxygen to the growing baby through the umbilical cord and placenta.
10. Prevents Atherosclerosis
A condition developed by the building up of plaque on the inner lining of blood vessels, leading to the narrowing of arteries is known as atherosclerosis. This condition can lead to coronary heart disease, the most common type of heart disease in the United States.
The condition occurs when too much cholesterol builds up in the bloodstream. This ultimately leads to plaque build-up. Consumption of lentils provides fiber. Fiber helps reduce the 'bad' cholesterol level in the body. Lentil provides plant-based protein which is an excellent replacement for animal protein.
Ways To Include Lentils In Your Diet
You can prepare lentils in different ways and consume them easily as a part of your diet. Like any other pulses or legumes, lentils need not be soaked overnight. You can simply rinse and drain the lentils and toss them for debris. Some easy ways to include lentils in your diet are:
1. Add lentils to salad. For this, you will need to boil the lentils until tender.
2. You can make a lentil soup or stew and have them as a meal.
3. Use lentils as a meat substitute in lasagna, bolognese, tacos, burritos, etc. You can soak the lentils or get pre-cooked canned lentils.
4. Make a lentil dip and enjoy it with various dishes.
5. Make lentil chips, or crackers and enjoy them as a snack. Or, get lentil pasta and enjoy a healthy lunch.
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