Vegetable seeds that grow in pods, such as peas and lentils, are considered part of the legume family and are extremely beneficial to include in your diet.
Why are lentils so good for you?
First, they are an excellent source of dietary fiber, both the soluble and the insoluble type. Insoluble fiber encourages regular bowel movements, prevents constipation, and helps prevent colon cancer. While soluble fiber reduces the risk of heart disease and regulates blood sugar for people with diabetes.
Lentils have a low glycemic index so your rise in blood sugar after eating them is moderate and steady. Legumes are also low in fat, low in calories and can help improve satiety and keep you feeling full.
Also, 3/4 of a cup of cooked lentils will provide more potassium than a large banana along with 13g of protein. With 25% protein, Lentil is the vegetable with the highest level of protein other than soybeans. Lastly, they are a great source of folic acid, provides 90% of the recommended daily intake, which protects the artery walls and prevents heart disease.
Studies have found an association between consuming at least one serving a day of legumes (about 3/4 cup) — which includes chickpeas, lentils, peas and beans — and 5 percent decreased levels of LDL cholesterol over a period of six weeks.
So how can you eat more lentils?
- Add cooked lentils to your salads
- Add cooked lentils to sauces, hummus, salsa, guacamole or vegetable dips
- Add cooked lentils in with ground turkey or lean beef when making lettuce wraps or fajitas
- Add cooked pureed lentils into baked goods
- Roasted lentils as a snack or add them to homemade protein/granola bars
- Make them as a simple side dish by stewing them with garlic, chopped onions, chopped celery, and tomatoes
- Check out the great recipe below!
Healthy Recipe: Lentil Marinara & Zucchini Spaghetti
1 cup dried green lentils
2 cups water
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2-15 oz cans organic tomato sauce
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon dried thyme
6 medium zucchini, spiraled into pasta
salt and black pepper to taste
Add lentils and 2 cups of water to a medium pot. Bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer and cook until lentils are tender and liquid is evaporated, about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, add 1 tablespoon olive oil to a pan over medium heat. Add the onion and saute for 5 minutes, or until translucent. Add the garlic cloves and saute for an additional minute. Add the tomato sauce, basil, oregano, thyme, and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer on low for 20 minutes.
When lentils are done cooking, add them to the sauce and simmer for an additional 5 – 10 minutes.
In a separate pan, add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and saute the zucchini pasta for 5 – 10 minutes, until desired tenderness is achieved.
Divide the pasta among four plates and top with lentil marinara. Serve hot. Enjoy!