Increased grocery bill gets you worried? Too much meat in your diet? Well, how about turning some of your meals completely vegetarian?
Replacing three or more meals per week with vegetarian options such as beans and lentils can improve your health and it is the basis of the healthy Mediterranean diet. Beans and lentils and other legumes offer protein, vitamins, minerals and fiber with no added fat or cholesterol. Beans and lentils also count toward your daily vegetable servings to support good health.
Lentils are not only a great source of protein, but are also fat-free, high in fiber and rich in a number of essential nutrients. Adding lentils to your diet offers a number of health benefits, from helping you control your weight to promoting heart health.
Lentils Are High In Fiber
Having almost 8 grams of fiber in a 1/2-cup serving, lentils are high in fiber. Most Americans and Europeans get just 15 grams of fiber a day, where they needat least 30 grams. Eating more high-fiber foods like lentils not only helps you meet your daily needs, but might also help you better manage your weight.
Vegetarian Source of Iron
According to the World Health Organization, not having enough iron in your body is the most common nutritional disorder in the world. Not getting enough iron in your diet can make you to feel weak and tired. Lentils are a good source of iron, with 3.3 milligrams in a 1/2-cup serving.
From a daily intake point of view, ff you are a woman you need 18 milligrams of iron a day, and women over the age of 51 and all men need at least8 milligrams a day.
However as your body is not in position of absorbing iron so much from plant-based foods such as lentils as it does from meat sources, a healthy and most nutritional trick is to combine your lentils with a food rich in vitamin C, such as peppers or combine them with crabohydrates like noodles which can help improve absorption.
Lentils For Weight Management
The fiber and protein in lentils can help you feel satisfied, so you eat fewer calories overall. The lack of saturated fat in lentils also makes them friendly to your waistline. One cup of lentils contains between just 200 and 230 calories.
The Health Benefits of Lentils
Lentils, being a food source for thousand of years, are cultivated very early in the history of mankind. It provides lot of health benefits, such as the following:
Lentils Are Good For Muscle Generation: Did you know that your muscles need a constant supply of protein for repair and growth of the body?. Lentils contain all the essential nutritional elements that your body needs to grow muscle and to function smoothly.
Lentils Can Control Diabetes: A study published at the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition by Anderson and Bridges showed that lentils was found to be the food amongst any other, with the hier dietary fiber. The dietary fiber this is found in lentils helps in controlling blood sugar levels. It also slows down the rate at which food is absorbed by the blood and thus maintains the sugar level constantly.
Lentils Promote Heart Health: Since lentils have miniscule amounts of fat, are an ideal source of protein without … the weight, therefore helping your heart to be more healthy. Lentils contain magnesium, which helps in relaxing cardiovascular muscles and helping to lower blood pressure.
Lentils Prevents Atherosclerosis: In the Journal Of Food Science, research conducted by Xu, Yuan, and Chang at the Department of Cereal and Foods Sciences in North Dakota showed that if you consume lentils on a regular basis, you can provide your body of a constant supply of antioxidants that decrease the chances of developing atherosclerosis. Also, these antioxidants play a role in neutralizing free radicals and thereby preventing cell and gene damage – that means, you delay aging.
Professor Jeya Henry, a leading nutritionist at the Functional Food Centre at Oxford Brookes University, also quoted that “If you take more of your protein from vegetable or plant-based foods, good studies have shown that you will live longer,”
Considering that in Greece, Spain or Italy, where people eat more legumes than meat, they tend to have lower rates of cardiovascular disease and live longer.
Here Are Some Cooking Suggestions
Most people tend to cook lentils in plain water which maintain their low calories, but you may find the taste completely dull.
Here is a trick: Improvise, and cook them in low-sodium vegetable stock to add more flavor. In Greece, oldwives tend to add freshly grated tomato and garlic, with a few bay leaves for extra taste to make a healthy soup.
Lentils come in several varieties, but the most common are brown, green and red lentils.
Brown lentils can almost disolve to a puree when you cook them. Best cook them as soup or add them to a stew.
Green lentils have a rich nutty flavor and do not become mushy, so you can serve them hot, add some turmeric and combine with a grilled chicken breast. They also make a fantastic salad for lunch.
Red lentils cook faster than the other two and have a mild flavor. Because they become mushy, best thing is to puree them and add them to savory recipes like mince meat, meat loafs or puree salads/dips.
Alternatively you can try a hand-made lentil salad which has carefully boiled brown lentils mixed with noodles to help you absorb more vitamins and dietary fiber, which you can find it here.