Incorporate a Serving of Lentils into Your Diet
By Catherine Morgan on January 22, 2011
BlogHer Original Post
January is BlogHer's Month of Little Steps to Health & Fitness, and we want you to share your favorite easy health tip! Click here to see how to play along. And check out all the tips so far in the Month of Little Steps to Health & Fitness series.
Question: Can a person learn to love lentils? The thing is, I've been trying to incorporate as many healthy foods into my diet as possible -- salmon, broccoli, spinach, and whole grains are among my favorites. But lentils? Up until recently, they haven't been my thing. I guess it's because they just aren't very visually appealing. I know, stupid reason, but I'm just being honest about it.
But today I stand before you as a changed woman. I've begun to eat lentils, and I actually believe I am learning to love them. Not only are they uber-nutritious, they are quite versatile in the many ways you can add them to you diet. Most importantly, they are very easy to prepare and require no soaking (rinsing yes, soaking no). You see, as much as I want to incorporate healthy foods into my diet, I still want everything to be quick and easy to prepare.
So, before I tell you some of the ways anyone can easily add lentils to their diet, let me first tell you about the many reasons why you should.
Lentils contain a high level of proteins and are a great source of dietary fiber, folate, vitamin B1, minerals, and even iron.
Lentils can be helpful in lowering cholesterol and preventing heart disease.
The soluble fiber in lentils helps to eliminate cholesterol by binding to it. And there is also evidence that lentils my slow the liver's ability to manufacture cholesterol.
Lentils aid in digestion.
Because of their high levels of fiber, lentils help to bulk-up the size of stool (speeding up the journey of waste products to elimination and reducing constipation). Fiber may also help reduce the risk and symptoms of diverticulosis (a condition where small pouches form in the colon wall).
Lentils can be helpful to patients with diabetes.
The soluble fiber in lentils can trap carbohydrates, and in turn slow digestion and absorption of carbohydrates (helping to prevent wide swings in blood sugar level throughout the day).
Lentils aid in weight loss.
Fiber rich foods like lentils buck-up making you feel more full even when you may be eating less. It also helps speed up the rate at which your food passes through your digestive track. Also, the protein in lentils can help suppress hunger.
Lentils are also a great source of iron for energy.
In addition to providing slow burning complex carbohydrates, lentils can increase your energy by replenishing your iron stores. Particularly for menstruating women, who are more at risk for iron deficiency, boosting iron stores with lentils is a good idea -- especially because, unlike red meat, another source of iron, lentils are not rich in fat and calories. Iron is an integral component of hemoglobin, which transports oxygen from the lungs to all body cells, and is also part of key enzyme systems for energy production and metabolism. And remember: If you're pregnant or lactating, your needs for iron increase. Growing children and adolescents also have increased needs for iron.
So, now that you know the health benefits of lentils, you might be wondering how you can incorporate them into your diet.
I started by adding them to healthy (low sodium) soups, and found they helped the soup fill me up much faster. I've also like to make taco salads using ground turkey, so I started mixing already cooked lentils in when I cook the ground turkey, and I don't notice the difference in taste at all. I'm also planning to add lentils to some extra-lean ground beef to make burgers on the grill. I may even go as far as to try making veggie burgers using lentils -- I found this video on how to make them, and they actually look pretty good.
From Healthy Vegan Recipes On Video -- Lentil Burger Recipe
What do you think? Could you learn to love lentils? Are you already using lentils as part of your healthy diet? Do you have any great recipes using lentils that you can share with us? Let us know in comments.
Photo Credit: WoodleyWonderworks.
Contributing Editor Catherine Morgan
Also at Catherine-Morgan.com
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