Lentils represent a variety of pulse that originates from India. There are numerous types of lentils, as their color ranges from green to brown and even black. All the varieties are very rich in nutrients, and according to numerous studies, they also bring many health benefits.
Nutrition of Lentils
First of all, lentils represent a very reliable source of proteins, with around 26 percent of their mass being represented by these compounds. In addition, lentils contain the following vitamins and minerals:
- Folic acid (vitamin B9)
- Thiamine (vitamin B1)
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
With so many vitamins and minerals, it comes to no surprise that lentils are so beneficial to the human body and provide the following health benefits:
1. Cholesterol Reduction
This effect is caused by the soluble fiber that is found in lentils. As this fiber binds LDL (low-density lipoprotein), the blood cholesterol levels drop considerably. In addition, studies suggest that the liver produces less cholesterol when consuming lentils, fact that also influences the overall amount of cholesterol in the body.
2. Regularization of Blood Sugar Levels
The same soluble fiber that helps reduce cholesterol also traps carbohydrates. As a consequence, the digestion and the assimilation of these nutrients are slowed down and wide swings in blood sugar levels are no longer possible.
3. Digestion Improvement
It is a known fact that foods rich in fiber influence the digestion. This is also true with lentils, which are able to increase the amount of feces. Constipation can be easily treated if lentils are consumed regularly. Besides that, the fiber found in lentils also helps in the prevention and treatment of diverticulosis, a health problem characterized by the presence of multiple tiny pouches in the colon wall.
4. Weight Loss
Lentils also include insoluble fiber in their composition, which leads to a sensation of satiety in much shorter time than other foods. As a consequence, people eat less and manage this way to get rid of the extra pounds.
5. Cancer Prevention
Studies conducted by the Department of Nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health, Boston revealed that both lentils and peas are able to reduce the risk of breast cancer. One of the reasons is that both these foods are rich in flavones, a class of antioxidants that has antioxidant properties. While the results of these studies are not entirely certain, they represent the premise of future research.
6. Cardiovascular Disease Prevention
One last role of the fiber found in lentils is to help in the prevention of heart coronary problems. As fiber reduces blood cholesterol levels, there is less plaque forming on the walls of the arteries, and the risk of stroke or other cardiovascular diseases drops dramatically.
However, the fiber is not the only element that contributes to the health of the cardiovascular system. The folic acid and the magnesium found in this food also play an important role in the health of the heart. Folic acid reduces the level of homocysteine, which a compound equally dangerous for the heart and the artery walls. Magnesium, on the other hand, promotes better blood flow, fact that allows more oxygen and nutrients to be carried to the organs.