Lentils are plant-based proteins and dibble pulses, usually harvested from plants in the legume family. Lentils are used often in food, either cooked or sprouted, across the world. In fact, they have been in the diet from around the Neolithic period . As veganism and vegetarianism have grown, lentils have become a popular and effective way to ensure that people get enough proteins in their diet.
Lentils come in many types and varieties, of which the following are only a few: beluga lentils, French green lentils, Indianhead lentils, Eston green lentils, yellow or tan lentils, and masoor lentils.
So, what’s in lentils?
A lot of protein! And according to the USDA National Nutrient Database, lentils are also a great source for Vitamins A, B, C, D, E, and K, as well as minerals sodium,, magnesium, iron phosphorus, potassium,Calcium, and zinc .
A typical serving usually contains around 116 kcal when cooked. Lentils are also a great source of dietary fibre, and are known to have the second highest ratio of protein per calories of any legume .
Why are they good for us?
1) General health
According to a study by Mudryj et al. in 2014, pulses have a variety of health benefits that make them a biologically and economically important crop all across the world . The study states that pulses have antioxidant and anti-carcinogenic properties due to the phytochemicals, saponins, and tannins that they contain. Regularly having pulses can also prevent the occurrence of cardiovascular disease and its risk factors like high blood pressure or high cholesterol, platelet activity, and inflammation. Pulses’ high fibre content makes them a good source of nutrition for people with diabetes because they have a low glycaemic index, which helps regulate sugar and insulin levels.
2) Good substitute for meat
For a lot of people who are worried about antibiotics in meat, or simply want a meatless diet and are weaning themselves off of meat, getting the necessary amount of protein from other sources can be a concern.
Pulses are a great replacement for meat, for they not only provide adequate amounts of proteins, but also a large number of other essential nutrients and plenty of fibre. Pulses can be added to soups, casseroles, meat sauces as a substitute, curries, rice, and more to add both texture and flavour.
Remember how you’re supposed to eat five fruits or vegetables a day? Well, pulses are so nutritious that one portion can contribute to this requirement. Whether or not you have other sources of protein in your diet, including pulses can be both nutritious and cost-effective.