Lentils are an excellent source of six important minerals, two B-vitamins, and protein with virtually no fat. The high folate content in lentils helps to lower the amino acid homocysteine, which is known to cause damage to artery walls and is considered a serious risk factor for heart disease. The magnesium in lentils also provide cardiovascular benefits, as magnesium improves the flow of blood, nutrients, and oxygen throughout the body. Studies show magnesium deficiencies are associated with heart attack and immediately following a heart attack, a lack of sufficient magnesium promotes free radical injury to the heart.
Lentils are rich in dietary fiber, both the soluble and insoluble type. Research studies have shown that insoluble fiber not only helps to increase stool bulk and prevent constipation, but also helps prevent digestive disorders like irritable bowel syndrome and diverticulosis. A study involving 10,000 Americans published in the Archives of Internal Medicine confirms that eating high fiber foods, such as lentils, helps to prevent heart disease. The high fiber content in lentils keeps blood sugar levels from rising rapidly after a meal and helps to lower cholesterol. If you have insulin resistance, hypoglycemia or diabetes, legumes like lentils can really help you balance blood sugar levels while providing steady, slow-burning energy.
Lentils are also a great source of iron, which is particularly important for menstruating, pregnant, or lactating women and growing children and adolescents. Boosting iron stores with lentils is a good idea because, unlike other sources of iron such as red meat, lentils are not rich in fat and calories. Iron is an integral component of hemoglobin, which transports oxygen from the lungs to all body cells, and is also part of key enzyme systems for energy production and metabolism.
We can’t think of any reason not to consume this super-food. Check out our favorite recipes!
1 cup brown or green lentils, washed
4 cups + 1 TBS vegetable broth
1 medium onion chopped
3 medium garlic cloves chopped
2 medium carrots, diced
2 medium celery stalks, diced
2 cups finely chopped kale
2 tsp curry powder
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes (do not drain)
3 TBS chopped fresh cilantro
Salt, black pepper, crushed red pepper to taste
Urban Clinic recommended additions:
Potato (1 large baking potato cut in small squares)
1. Rinse lentils in strainer and sort through, removing debris.
2. Chop onions and garlic and let sit for 5 minutes.
3. Heat 1 TBS broth in medium soup pot. Healthy Sauté onion in broth over medium heat for 5 minutes stirring frequently, until translucent.
4. Add garlic, carrots, and celery. Continue to sauté for another couple of minutes. Add curry powder and mix to bring out its flavor.
5. Add rinsed and drained lentils, 4 cups broth and tomatoes. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium low, and simmer uncovered until lentils and vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Add kale and simmer for another 10 minutes. Add cilantro and season with salt and pepper to taste.
This recipe is perfect for a slow cooker. Try our additions and serve over brown rice.
Lentil and Ginger Stew
1tbsp olive oil
1 leek, diced
2 carrots, diced
250g (9oz) Puy lentils
1.4 litres (2½ pints) hot vegetable stock
200g (7oz) cherry tomatoes on the vine
2.5cm (1in) piece fresh ginger, grated
25g (1oz) almonds, roughly chopped
100g (3½oz) spinach leaves
1. Preheat the oven to 200°C (180°C fan) mark 6. Heat 2tsp oil in an ovenproof pan. Add leek and carrots; fry for 6-8 mins.
2. Stir in the lentils, coating them with the mixture, then pour in the stock. Season, cover and bring to the boil, then turn down the heat.
3. Transfer to the oven for 20 mins or until lentils are just tender with a slight bite.
4. After lentils have been cooking for 10 mins, put the tomatoes into a roasting tin, drizzle with remaining oil and roast for 8-10 mins.
5. Meanwhile, remove skin from oranges with a sharp knife and cut into slices, reserving juice.
6. When lentils are cooked, add orange slices, juice and remaining ingredients. Spoon into bowls with the tomatoes.
Spiced Pumpkin and Lentil Salad
¾ cup French green lentils
6 cups peeled seeded sugar pumpkin or butternut squash, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 to 5 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika
½ teaspoon salt
4 cups baby arugula
11 ounces soft goat cheese, crumbled
¼ cup thinly sliced mint leaves
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper
1. Preheat oven to 375F/ 190C.
2. Toss the pumpkin/squash with 2 tablespoons oil, the cumin, paprika, and salt until all the cubes are well-coated in the marinade. Arrange then in single layer on a baking dish and roast for 20 minutes. Turn each piece so that all the sides get the chance to turn nice and crispy, and roast for another 10 to 15 minutes until tender. Leave to cool.
3. While the pumpkins/squash is in the oven, prepare the lentils. Soak them in cold water for about 10 minutes, then drain and boil them in salted water for about 20 to 30 minutes, until tender. Drain, rinse under cold water and drain again.
4. To assemble the salad, combine the lentils, pumpkin/squash cubes, and oil from the baking dish with arugula, half of goat cheese, mint, vinegar, and enough oil to just coat each ingredient. Divide among plates and sprinkle the remaining goat cheese over.