Superfood: Lentils

Lentil Love — The Need-to-Know

Lentils are high in protein and other essential nutrients, including folate, iron, potassium, and a slew of antioxidants, each lending a special nutritional hand .

The iron may help fight off anemia, which is especially common among those with low-iron diets, like vegans and vegetarians. And lentils are also low on the glycemic index, meaning they cause blood sugar to spike less quickly than other starches . In addition to the specific nutritional benefits, lentils can make a big difference as a whole, too.

A diet high in whole grains and legumes may boost weight loss , and lentils’ slow-burning protein and fiber may be to thank. One study found legumes can keep those bellies full an extra 2 to 4 hours, potentially making them a key to controlling appetite and slimming down . Plus, each little lentil is packed with cholesterol-reducing soluble dietary fiber. And if that’s not enough, how’s this: Another study found eating lentils can reduce inflammation, which is associated with everything from heart disease to cancer .

Let In the Lentils — Your Action Plan

Still not convinced? Just take a look at how it compares to other healthy options. For starters, lentils have three times more fiber than one serving of bran flakes (a popular source)— though we’re not sure how we feel about a nice bowl of lentils with milk. And gram-for-gram, lentils have more protein than beef. Plus they’re a cheap alternative to the beefier stuff when eating on a budget. Fans of quinoa may even be surprised to learn that for about the same amount of calories, a cup of cooked lentils has more than twice the protein and dietary fiber.

Unlike other fruits and veggies, which can leach nutrients when cooked, the body actually absorbs the calcium, iron, and zinc from lentils more easily after the lentils are cooked . To cook them, rinse under cold water and then cook in plain boiling water (no salt— it can have a hardening effect) according to package instructions. Cooking times vary between varieties but are generally under 30 minutes. But it’s important to cook those lentils all the way through— undercooked ones can cause “gastric distress.” (We’ll let your imagination take over from here.) Those with kidney problems may also want to be careful, as the phosphorous in lentils can be difficult to process.

Source: Superfood: Lentils (This website is super cool, check it out!)