9 Reasons To Add Lentils To Your Diet

Lentil salad in a bowl with tomatoes

 

I love lentils. They are inexpensive, versatile, nutritious, and believe it or not, a proud Canadian food product.

 

Most would be surprised to learn that Canada only started to grow lentils in the 1970s. Canada now exports 67% of the worlds lentils making Canada the world’s largest lentil exporter – most of which goes to India.

 

Including more lentils in your diet makes sense.

 

They provide a boat load of nutrition in a small package and are easy to prepare; even if you are a novice cook, lentils won’t let you down in the kitchen.

 

Check out Lentils Canada

9 Reasons To Add Lentils To Your Diet

1. Cancer fighter

Lentils have a lot of nutrients that have been shown to reduce the risk for cancers such as fiber, folate, B vitamins, and lectins. Lectins are a unique type of plant protein and studies suggest they have the ability to reduce cancer cells from growing.

 

2.  Fabulously fibrous

Lentils are high in fiber; a 1 cup/250 ml serving provides 15 g of fiber or 40% of the recommended daily amount for men and 60% of the recommended daily amount for women.

 

Asparagus & Lentil Salad with Chives & Cider Vinaigrette

 

3. Blood sugar balance

Both fiber and protein help to control the rate at which carbohydrate from food is digested and absorbed by the body and lentils has both of these nutrients. By slowing the rate of digestion, lentils help to ensure a steady blood sugar after eating to provide sustained energy  throughout the day.

 

4. Plentiful in potassium

Everyone thinks that sodium is the only thing to think about when it comes to blood pressure but that would be wrong. Potassium is a powerful ally, more so than sodium. Simply getting more potassium in your diet will do more for lowering blood pressure than lowering sodium will.

 

Lentils have a lot of potassium; 1 cup/250 ml has over 700 mg of potassium; as much as 2 medium bananas. Note: lentils also contain magnesium; another important mineral needed for healthy blood pressure.

 

Potassium Lowers Blood Pressure – Harvard Medical School

 

Bowl of lentil soup

Photo credit

 

5. Energy for days

Lentils provides carbohydrates; a source of energy not only for working muscles but your brain as well. Because lentils are rich in fiber, they provide a slow released form of energy; as part of a meal, lentils will give you the staying power you need to get you through the day.

 

6. Gut-tastic

Our gut is full of bacteria; microorganisms that help to keep us healthy by helping with digestion, making certain nutrients, stimulating the immune system, aiding the production of gut-associated neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin.

 

The gut love fiber as a food source and lentils gives them the fiber they need. Fiber also helps the gut by promoting regularity; let’s face it, who doesn’t like a good poop?

 

Dietary Fiber Alters Gut Bacteria, Supports Gastrointestinal Health

 

7. Lowers cholesterol

While I’m not a huge pusher of lowering LDL cholesterol as the be all and all when it comes to cardiovascular health, lentils, and their fiber content have been shown to promote a healthy balance of blood fats/lipids including LDL & HDL cholesterol, triglycerides.

 

As well as, promoting healthy blood sugar & insulin levels all of which play a role in heart/cardiovascular health.

 

8. Protein

Lentils are a great source of plant-based protein. Although most of their calories come from carbohydrate, they are some of the highest protein-containing plant foods. 1 cup/250 ml serving as 18 g of protein. Your muscles will thank you.

 

9.  Amazing antioxidants

Mention antioxidants and everyone thinks of blueberries, pomegranate, or the expensive goji or acai berry, as well as, green tea and the like. But lentils, and all pulses [chickpeas, dried peas & beans] are rich in antioxidants for a fraction of the cost.

 

Antioxidant activity and phenolic content of lentils (Lens culinaris), chickpeas (Cicer arietinum L.), peas (Pisum sativum L.) and soybeans (Glycine max), and their quantitative changes during processing

 

 For all things lentils and loads of recipes, visit Lentil Canada’s website

 Bowl of Beluga Lentils Photo credit

 

Photo credit: (Creative Commons): Robin Jolin, William Jones, Justin Marx

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