Food of the Week : Lentils
This week we’re on the pulse, well the lentil. There is nothing new about these fellas, in fact, they are one of the oldest known foods in the world.
Low in calories relative to its nutrient profile, these pulses are low in fat and rich in an abundance of nutrients including vitamin B1, vitamin K, calcium, zinc, potassium, phosphorus, tryptophan, manganese and copper.
Whether we’re talking about red, brown, yellow, green, black or macachiados lentils, yellow split peas, soya beans, black-eyed pea, or kidney beans… we’re still talking about lentils.
High in soluble fibre, lentils are great for heart health thanks to their ability to reduce bad cholesterol levels in the blood. Not only is fibre great for the heart, but due to its ability to slow the digestion of carbohydrates it stabilises blood sugar levels. Good news for those with diabetes, great news for weight management. Soluble fibre forms a gel in our gut, great for digestive health, keeping our colons clean and reducing the risk of colon, throat, esophageal and breast cancer.
Lentils are also rich in folate which reduces levels of homocysteine. This amino acid is synthesised in the body, and high levels of it are associated with strokes and heart disease. Not cool. Folate is needed for energy metabolism and nervous system maintenance. It is also vital for DNA synthesis, which is why it is a key nutrient for pregnant women.
Lentils are also loaded in magnesium which is super important for blood flow and transporting nutrients and oxygen around the body and to the heart.
Lentils are often high on the ingredients list for vegetarians and vegans because of their high protein content. Loaded in essential amino acids including isoleucine and lysine, the sprouted variety are also rich in methionine and cysteine (non essential)… the kings of muscle building and growth 🙂
Due to the fact that lentils contain plant proteins called lectins which cause cytotoxicity and apoptosis inhibiting the growth of cancer cells.
One cup of lentils offers almost half of a women’s daily recommended intake of iron (almost 90% of a mans). As a non-heme (vegtie) source we don’t absorb it as well as through meat or fish, but add vitamin C (think citrus fruit or dark leafy salads including spinach) and we are able to absorb much more.
Cook with wholegrain rice as a great snack option and a complete mix of essential amino acids
Add into stews, curries and chilli’s.
Stir into soups during cooking.
Cool after cooking and use in salads.