Health Benefits of Lentils very impressive for some side of human body and long life. Lentil is common crops which used as culinary purposes since long ago. Lentil belongs to legumes family and it is regard as the most ancient legumes plant that has been cultivated by human. Lentil (Lens culinaris Medik.) is a plant from Fabaceae family that popular in the world especially in South Asian countries.
According to Bahl et al, lentil is the oldest legumes that cultivated in the world. It is native to Near east, central Egypt, Mediterranean basin, Ethiopia, Southern Europe, India, Pakistan and then spread to Latin America. There is some archeological evidence which reported that lentils has been cultivated since 7500 – 6500 BC. Nowadays, India, Canada, Turkey, Iran, Nepal, China, Bangladesh are the countries which produce and consume lentils in the world. Lentil cultivated in 4.6 million hectares total area and produce 4.2 million tons of seed. The main producer of lentil today are China, Turkey, Armenia and Croatia.
Type of Lentil
There are some types of lentil that you can found in store such as
- Red lentil this lentil has most earthy flavor
- Green lentil
- Brown or Spanish pardina lentils
- Puy or French lentil with blue green colour
- Beluga or black lentil
- Yellow lentil And other varieties which produced by different countries
Lentil contains many nutrient which is beneficial for maintain healthy body. To know more about the nutrition, check the table below. In a cup of cooked lentil (about 100g) contains
0.5 g g/25%
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Health Benefits of Lentils
1. Lower blood cholesterol
Lentil contains soluble fiber which can lowers blood cholesterol. Cholesterol or LDL ( Low Density Lipoprotein) is the leading cause of arteries thickening or atherosclerosis. Instead of using meat as protein source in meal which can increase the level of cholesterol, it is better to use lentils.
2. Maintain normal blood sugar
Consuming food which has low GI or Glycemic index ( index number to measure the ability of food in increasing blood sugar ) can maintain healthy blood sugar level. Lentil has low GI or glycemic index (<55) and it can lower the sugar level within the blood.
3. Prevent diabetes
As mentioned before, lentil has low GI and it is good news for people who suffer from diabetes. Diabetes is common disease which caused by insulin resistance and the increasing of blood sugar level. It is also the sixth leading cause of mortality in this world. Low GI food including lentils are recommended to people who suffer from diabetes especially type 2. Lentil also contains fiber which can slower the absorption of sugar within the blood. We can call it as super food that can prevent from hyperglycemia and developing diabetes.
4. Promote healthy digestion
Lentil are high in dietary fiber which important to maintain healthy bowel function. The fiber content of lentil including Insoluble fiber can improve bowel movement and make it easier to absorb.
5. Prevent constipation
If you having problem with constipation, it means that your body lack of fiber. Lentils contains high dietary fiber that can improve the defecation process and soften the stool, make it easier to pass the large intestine and getting out from the body
6. Prevent cancer
Lentils are excellent source of Phytoestrogens and antioxidant which may help in the prevention of certain types of cancer especially hormone-related cancers, such as breast and prostate cancer. Antioxidant in lentil can prevent free radicals effect that can cause oxidation stress which lead to development of cancer.
7. Reduce the risk of heart disease
Heart disease is the top leading cause of death in the world. Unhealthy lifestyle and poor diet can increase the risk of heart disease. Consuming food rich in fiber can decrease the chance of developing heart disease and protect the heart from free radicals effect.
8. Promote healthy pregnancy
Lentil are good sources of folate and it can keep healthy body during pregnancy. Folate is required for the development of the fetus inside the womb. Folate also play important role in reducing the risk of neural tube defects such as spina bifida in newborn baby.
9. Treat celiac disease
Lentil just like other type of legumes is gluten-free food. Gluten is a protein which presence in some plant especially grains that can cause several health problem in some person who has gluten digestion inability or called as celiac disease. Lentil is not only delicious but it will be a good meal for celiac disease patient who need gluten-free diet.
10. Prevent anemia
Human body needs iron to produce new red blood cells and maintain normal oxygen transport. Lentil is rich source of iron (non-heme iron) that can keep healthy red blood cell and prevent from anemia ( a common health problem due to lack of red blood cells )
11. Repair body cells
Combining lentil with other type of food can make lentil as best source of protein. Lentil contains higher amount of protein rather than other type of plant food such as grain and it has similar protein number to the meat. Protein is building block of the body which develop almost all body organs and it is vital nutrient that repair the damage within the body.
12. Provide energy
Lentil contain energy from 1040 to 1430kJ per 100 g and it is similar to cereal grains. The energy from lentil comes from the carbohydrate. Consuming lentil on breakfast can keep you active during the day.
13. Help in weight lost
Lentils are a good source of carbohydrate and low in fat also low in GI or with a low glycemic index. Even lentil rich in carbohydrate but hence their carbohydrate will be slowly digested by the body. This make lentil are good food for people who want to lose weight.
14. Increase metabolism
Lentil contains B vitamins complex such Vitamin B6 which play important role in the body metabolism. Vitamin B complex are co factor of some metabolic process in the body that important in the energy production process. Consuming lentil will increase the rate of metabolism and make you fit during the day.
15. Maintain healthy skin
Lentil contains antioxidant that can prevent the skin from free radical effect. Free radical is harmful substance that can cause cell damage especially skin. Free radicals also the one who causing aging skin and wrinkle. By consuming lentil, you can keep your body fit and maintain healthy young skin.
16. Lower blood pressure
Lentil contain potassium which is important for maintain normal blood pressure and play important role in the management of hypertension. Hypertension can be serious problem and can cause stroke that lead to paralyze and death. Enjoying lentil is not only delicious but it help you to prevent from such serious health problem.
17. Maintain healthy brain
Magnesium is important in keeping all body function especially nerve and brain cell. Magnesium keep the body from several problem that can attack neural function, it also promotes the regeneration of brain cell. Lentils contain high level of magnesium that provides this benefits to your brain and prevent from some mental disease such as Alzheimer.
18. Boost immune system
Lentils contain high level of antioxidant, vitamin and mineral which can boost and strengthen immune system function in fighting inflammation and disease.
Health Risk of Lentil
Lentil contain Oligosaccharides (sugars such as raffinose (3-5%), stachyose and pentosans) which can cause abdominal or stomach discomfort and increase flatulence when consumed excessively. . When lentil enter the digestive tract it escape digestion in the gut and will be fermented in the large bowel creating more gas. Soaking lentil in water overnight can reduce the ocntent of these sugars. Lentil also contain some amount of saponine which can disturd the absorption of other nutrients.
How to Purchase, Store and Consume
Before you buy some lentil to be enjoyed as meal, it is better if you check these tips below :
- Buy some lentils which you want to use and choose the right varieties of lentil based on your cooking recipe because every varieties of lentil has different characteristic and taste
- If you purchase canned lentil better check the ingredients and make sure it doesn’t contain harmful substance such as BPA
- Dried lentil is commonly use in many other types of dish such as curry, stir fry, soup and etc. Egyptian regard lentil as staple food and it is one of the important ingredients of popular dish koshari.
- Don.t forget to wash lentil before use
- Cook lentils for about 10-40 minutes and until the skin or hulk removed
- Lentil can also be mashed and processed in many types of food.
If you still hesitate about lentil, just try it for once. It can replace the meat in some dish and make it healthier. The health benefits of lentil can be consider as good reason for you to start enjoy lentil and get healthier body.