What are the benefits of lentil foods?

In this brief guide, we will answer the query, “What are the benefits of lentil foods?” and will discuss some benefits of eating lentils.

What are the benefits of lentil foods?

The legume family includes lentils. In appearance, they resemble a little bean, grow in pods, and come in a variety of colors. High in protein and fiber, they are also an excellent source of these nutrients. Lentils have been classified among soft seed-coated pulses that require shorter cooking time, and thus have smaller losses in nutrients as compared to those with hard seed coat (1). Because of their inexpensive price and ease of preparation, lentils are a popular source of high-quality protein for people all around the globe. The benefits of lentils belong to:

·         Good for heart health

·         Prevent cancer

·         Good for pregnant women

·         Good for digestion

What are lentils?

Lentils are among the oldest and healthiest foods on the planet. The lentil plant, Lens culinaris L., is a member of the Leguminoceae family. Beans have been grown in the western United States since 8,000 B.C. when they were originally cultivated in the Middle East. The bean was formerly considered a poor man’s meal in Greece, whereas in Egypt it was generally considered a delicacy.

In the early 16th century, the lentil was brought to the Americas from Europe. People began to see it as a cheap, high-protein meat substitute during World War II.

A variety of lens-shaped beans are available. Brown, green, and red are the most prevalent colors. The gluten-free meal is favored by nutritionists because of its high nutritional value. As a canvas for other foods and flavors, rice is a popular choice for chefs.

Benefits of lentil food

Protein, fiber, and minerals may all be found in lentils, as well as complex carbohydrate fractions, particularly the resistant starch and oligosaccharides, and also phytochemicals (1). Many lifestyle-related health issues may be minimized by eating a wide variety of plant-based meals.

Those who consume more plant-based meals are less likely to die from cardiovascular disease and other causes, according to research published in the Journal of the American Heart Association in 2019. However, the type of plant-based meal is important to be defined. Healthful plant-based diets, which included whole grains, were more strongly inversely associated with type 2 diabetes mellitus and coronary heart disease than the overall plant-based diets. In contrast, greater adherence to less healthful (unhealthful) plant-based diets, which included refined carbohydrate sources, were associated with a higher risk of these conditions (2).

Plant-based meals are frequently rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals, and may have antioxidant characteristics, making them an excellent source of nutrients. Antioxidants fight free radicals, which may cause inflammation and cancer in the body.

Lentils are good for a healthy heart

Fiber, folic acid, and potassium are all found in lentils. All of these nutrients are beneficial to the heart. The harmful cholesterol low-density lipoprotein (LDL) may be reduced by eating more fiber, according to the American Heart Association (AHA). Not only can fiber reduce cardiovascular disease risk, but it may also decrease the illness’s course in those who are already at risk. The hypocholesterolemic effects of pulses to be related, in estimated order of importance, to soluble dietary fiber, vegetable protein, oligosaccharides, isoflavones, phospholipids and fatty acids, saponins and other factors (1).

A research found that lentils possess angiotensin I-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor activity, which may possess pressure-lowering effects. Another research showed that lentils could exert a beneficial effect in reducing the extent of hyperhomocysteinemia by virtue of their high content of folate, and thus in ameliorating coronary heart diseases (1).

Lentils are a good source of important nutrients, including fiber and vitamins. They are also a good source of protein and may be used as a meat substitute in meals.

The risk of heart disease is reduced when a person substitutes meat for a high-fiber item like lentils in their diet.

Lentils and pregnancy

Folate is abundant in lentils. To avoid neural tube abnormalities, folate is essential. In 100 g whole lentils and split lentils, there are 479 and 204 micrograms of folate, respectively (1). Folate serves as a cofactor in one-carbon metabolism essential for nucleotide synthesis and methylation. Low folate intake leads to increased homocysteine levels,which is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease and stroke (3).

As an added benefit, prenatal intake of this vital vitamin has been shown to lower the incidence of gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes is less likely to occur in women who take more folate during pregnancy, according to 2019 research of 14,553 expectant mothers (3).

According to the CDC, women of reproductive age should drink 400 micrograms (mcg) of folate or folic acid daily at the very least. Pregnant and nursing women should raise their consumption, according to the CDC (3).

Lentils help in preventing cancer

Tumor growth rates may be slowed by selenium, according to certain studies. A person’s immunological response to infection may be boosted if T cells are stimulated as a result of taking this drug. T-cells are anti-infectious.

Cancers of the colon, prostate, lung, bladder, skin, esophagus, and stomach may be less common if selenium supplements are used, according to the NIH. Even though studies on selenium’s cancer-prevention properties have shown conflicting findings, experts must continue their investigation. Colorectal cancer may also be linked to fiber intake, a 2019 meta-analysis of 405 studies found. Mechanism of dietary fiber may decrease the risk of colorectal cancer by increasing stool bulk, diluting fecal carcinogens, and decreasing transit time, thus reducing the contact between carcinogens and the lining of the colorectum. Also, bacterial fermentation of fiber results in the production of short chain fatty acids, which may have protective effects against colorectal cancer (4). 

In addition, lentils have shown significantly the highest polyphenolic content among different pulses. Polyphenolics have shown chemopreventive ability against cancer with several plausible molecular, genetic and biochemical mechanisms (1).

Lentils help in battling exhaustion

Fatigue is often caused by an iron deficit. A lack of iron in the diet might impact the body’s ability to properly use energy. Heme and nonheme iron are the two forms of iron that exist. Non Heme iron is found in plants, including lentils. Heme iron may be found in animal products like meat and fish.

Non Heme iron is a vital source of iron for those who avoid meat for health or other reasons. Nonheme iron, on the other hand, cannot be absorbed by the body in the same way as heme iron. Adding vitamin C-rich foods like citrus, berries, and peppers to your diet can help your body better absorb it. 

Because bioavailability of iron from lentils could be adversely affected by natural chelating agents present in pulses, this adverse effect could be minimized by cooking, germination and fermentation of lentils prior to ingestion (1).

Lentils help in reliability, satiety, and digestion

By acting as a “bulking agent” in the digestive tract, dietary fiber aids in weight reduction by increasing satiety. Increased satiety and decreased hunger are two benefits of consuming more fiber in one’s diet. A person’s calorie consumption may be reduced using this method. Preventing constipation and promoting regular bowel movements are two benefits of eating lentils because of their high fiber content.

Other FAQs about Lentils that you may be interested in.

How long does lentil soup last in the fridge?

Can you eat lentils raw?

Are Lentils Vegetables?

Conclusion

In this brief guide, we answered the query, “What are the benefits of lentil foods?” and discussed some benefits of eating lentils.

References

  1. Faris, Mo’ez Al-Islam Ezzat, Hamed Rabah Takruri, and Ala Yousef Issa. Role of lentils (Lens culinaris L.) in human health and nutrition: a review. Mediterr J Nutr Metab, 2013, 6, 3-16.
  2. Kim, Hyunju, et al. Plant‐based diets are associated with a lower risk of incident cardiovascular disease, cardiovascular disease mortality, and all‐cause mortality in a general population of middle‐aged adults. J Am Heart Assoc, 2019, 8, e012865.
  3. Li, Mengying, et al. Prepregnancy habitual intakes of total, supplemental, and food folate and risk of gestational diabetes mellitus: a prospective cohort study. Diabetes Care, 2019, 42, 1034-1041.
  4. Masrul, Masrul, and Ricvan Dana Nindrea. Dietary fibre protective against colorectal cancer patients in asia: a meta-analysis. Open access Maced j med sci, 2019, 7, 1723.