Little lentils are a legume you should consume. They are cheap, filling, easy to prepare, and packed full of essential amino acids and dietary nutrients. It’s no wonder then that lentils are a common ingredient in French and Indian cuisine. Read on to learn about the top 10 health benefits of lentils.
1. Lowers Cholesterol
A growing consensus concludes that daily legume consumption reduces LDL cholesterol. Canadian researchers surveyed 26 U.S. and Canadian studies on the subject and found that people who consume 3/4 cup of legumes benefited from a 5% reduction in LDL cholesterol. Lentils posses over half your daily copper requirement. Copper counteracts the enzyme HMG- CoA reductase, the enzyme targeted by cholesterol medications.
2. Regulates Blood Sugar
If you are one of the millions of Americans suffering from type 2 diabetes, you need to start eating lentils. Legumes high in soluble fiber like lentils help stabilize blood sugar by lowering plasma glucose and insulin. Lentils are also low on the glycemic index, which means they digest slowly without causing blood sugar to spike. So eat a cup of lentils (or other legumes) a day to lower hemoglobin A1C levels.
3. Facilitates Weight Loss
An age-old question for vegetarians is “how do I get full without gorging on starches?” Veggie-heavy cuisines, like Indian, choose lentils to do the trick. A 1 cup serving contains just 230 calories. That same portion also has 63% of your daily fiber and high amount of protein, both of which keep you feeling full for longer. So eat a flavorful dish of lentils if you want to feel full and maintain portion control.
4. Digestive Aid
Fiber is a non-digestible component of plant food that keeps your digestive system moving. Doctors suggest your diet consist of 40% high fiber foods to stay regular and avoid constipation. Fiber also keeps toxins moving out of your system and ferments healthy bacteria. As a high fiber food, one serving of lentils will put you in the ideal fiber range.
5. Lowers Risk of Coronary Heart Disease
High fiber foods are an important weapon in the fight against heart disease. A study in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that adults who ate a high fiber diet had 12% less risk of coronary heart disease and 11% less cardiovascular disease. Lentils also contain high levels of folate and magnesium, both of which improve blood flow through arteries and benefit the heart.
6. Supports Brain Health
No food contains more folate than lentils, which deliver 90% of your daily requirement in just one serving. That’s a really good thing. Folate is a complex B vitamin that is a key nutrient in human health. Folate deficiency can lead to birth defects and blood disorders. Meanwhile, folate supports production of neurotransmitters that boost nervous system function.
7. Healthy Cardiovascular System
Folate-rich lentils also deliver great support to your cardiovascular system. Folate acts as a deterrent to homocysteine (Hcy), a non-protein amino acid that is correlated with blood clots, heart attacks and strokes. In recent years a wide array of studies found that folate decreases Hcy levels, leading to a reduced incidence of stroke.
8. Energy Boost
Lentils pack a 1-2 punch of iron and copper, both of which are essential in energy production. Iron requires copper to mend with red blood cells and prevent anemia. Copper also helps transfer energy from carbs inside of cells. The fiber in copper also gives slow-burning energy that keeps you full and fueled up for longer.
9. Women’s Health
When you think of iron-rich foods, a big juicy red steak is probably the first thing that comes to mind. While red meat definitely leads the way in iron, lentils don’t lag far behind. They contain nearly 50% of your daily iron requirement. That’s a good thing because iron deficiency is the biggest nutrient-related condition in the world. Women need iron to maintain menstrual health and have healthy pregnancy. Therefore, they require more iron in their diet than men, with pregnant and lactating women requiring as much as 27mg per day.
10. Attack Free Radicals
Free radicals are uncharged molecules that can start a chain reaction. Therefore, they high levels of free radicals are associated with numerous diseases. Manganese is a co-factor in the formation of an antioxidant enzyme called manganese superoxide dismutase. This antioxidant is linked to lowered levels of free radicals, decreasing your risk for various cancers.