Today, it’s all about Lentils: Everything you need to know. There is evidence that suggests that lentils have been cultivated as far back as 10,000 B.C, making them one of the first crops ever to be farmed. Lentils are more commonly found dried at the grocery store, and come in a variety of colors.
You probably use them to thicken a soup or stew, but they can also be used as a meat substitute as well. Lentils: everything you need to know.
Lentils also come packed with several nutrients and minerals that provide you with several health benefits that you may not know about. Here’s a closer examination of lentils and everything you need to know about them.
Lentils: Everything You Need to Know
Lentils are one of the few beans that you don’t have to soak ahead of time before cooking. They don’t have to be used only in soups, lentils can also be used as a meat substitute that’s full of just as much protein. Lentils can even be used as a flour alternative in order to make gluten-free baking goods.
Lentils also happen to be a protein that is incredibly cheap to buy compared to ground beef and other meat. On average, lentils cost around $.07 per serving, where ground beef is closer to $1.07 for a single serving.
Lentils are believed to be one of the first domesticated crops and have been eaten since the prehistoric Neolithic period. There is evidence of them found along the Euphrates River that dates clear back to 8,000 B.C.
Lentils (lens culinaris) are similar to beans, as they too come from the edamame family. They grow in pods that usually consist of 2 seeds in each. They come in a variety of colors and packed with tons of protein.
Lentils are more heavily produced for human consumption rather than animals. Most of the world’s production of them come from Canada and India, at around 58% combined.
Varieties of Lentils
There are a number of different types of lentils, all of which are categorized by color. Here’s a picture of six with a closer look at five varieties.
Of all the lentils, the black lentil is the healthiest choice. They are more firm in texture and have an earthy flavor. Black lentils pair nicely with chicken, fish, and other meats. Black Lentils
Yellow lentils come bright yellow in color, but other than that, they are quite similar to the red lentil. They are nutty and sweeter in flavor and cook in very little time. Yellow Lentils
The red lentil is most often found in Mediterranean, Indian, and Middle Eastern cuisine. Their texture is soft once they’ve been cooked, and they are a bit smaller. Red lentils go great with soups, stews, and in purees. Red Lentils
Brown lentils are amongst the most common types of lentils, while having an earthy and mild flavor. They are great at thickening soups, as well as in burgers. Brown Lentils
Green lentils are another very popular type. You’ll notice that they have a peppery taste, and a firm texture, but they take the longest to cook of all the lentil varieties (around 40 minutes). These are the ones I have.
One of my readers, Janet, uses lentils in several meal choices. I’m so grateful she suggested I try using them. I love stretching my meals with them. Green Lentils
Lentils happen to be a highly nutritious food that’s packed full of protein, fiber, and other minerals. They come filled with vitamin B6, iron, folate, potassium, phosphorus, manganese, and thiamin.
Lentils also have smaller amounts of copper, zinc, riboflavin, magnesium, selenium, niacin, and pantothenic acid. With all of these nutrients, lentils provide you with several notable health benefits that you should know about.
Health Benefits of Lentils
Promotes a Healthier Heart
You can find a healthy amount of potassium, folic acid, and fiber in lentils. All of these work to decrease bad cholesterol levels, thus decreasing the risk of heart disease, especially those who are high risk. With calcium and magnesium added to the equation, they can decrease blood pressure naturally.
Helps to Lessen Fatigue
People that have an iron deficiency often experience fatigue. Lentils are a good source of nonheme iron that provides you with extra energy. This type of iron is not absorbed as easily as heme iron that’s found in meat, but combining it with foods high in vitamin C, can improve their absorption.
Improves Digestion, Regularity, and Satiety
Lentils contain a decent amount of fiber, which works to prevent constipation and helps promote regularity with bowel movements. Fiber also helps with those seeking weight loss, by reducing your appetite and providing you with the feeling of fullness quicker.
May Help to Prevent Cancer
Lentils have selenium, which may work to decrease a tumor’s growth rate. It also helps to stimulate the production of T cells, which help kill diseases in our bodies.
Some of the different types of cancer that selenium may help to prevent include bladder, skin, lung, gastric, prostate, colorectal, and esophageal cancer.
Reduces the Risk of Gestational Diabetes
Studies have shown that pregnant women who consume higher levels of folate had a lower risk for getting gestational diabetes throughout their pregnancy. Doctors also encourage them to continue with this throughout breastfeeding.
Cooking with Lentils
If all you’ve ever known about lentils is adding it to soup to help thicken it, it’s time you broadened the horizon a bit. Here are hundreds of recipes that use lentils in many different ways. They can be enjoyed in bread, meatloaf, sloppy joes, Italian dishes, and even lasagna.
How to Store Lentils
Lentils don’t usually go bad when stored correctly, but they may harden in texture and take longer to cook. It’s best to put your lentils in an air-tight container and store them in a dry cool place.
They should last at least one year this way. Once you’ve opened them, it’s best to put them in the refrigerator in a tightly sealed container. Some people even choose to freeze their lentils, and they can last this way for up to 6 months.
Lentils are another one of those nutritious foods that provide you with several health benefits. They go great with soups and burgers, but they can be enjoyed in countless other ways as well.
What did you find most surprising about lentils and their many benefits? What else would you add to this resource called lentils: everything you need to know? Please stock up your pantry with items you will eat. May God bless this world, Linda
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