Health Benefits Of Lentils: Reasons To Cook With This Legume

Health Benefits Of Lentils.

A year-round staple in most South Asian homes, lentils are a hearty addition to any meal. They work especially well in soups and stews but you can toss them into salads, mash them into patties, blend them into dips, and roast them into chips. And their quick-cooking nature makes it an easy option for no-frills dinners. That’s not all, lentils also come with a chock full of nutrition. Here are all the health benefits they provide.

1. Protects The Heart

Including lentils in your diet might prevent heart disease. Studies have associated them with an overall lowered risk of heart disease.1 2 One such study, conducted over 8 weeks in 48 overweight people, found that eating a one-third cup (60 grams) of lentils each day increased levels of “good” HDL cholesterol while significantly reducing levels of

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“bad” LDL cholesterol and triglycerides.3

In addition to this, lentils might also lower your blood pressure. One study revealed that rats that were eating lentils had greater reductions in blood pressure as opposed to rats that were given peas, chickpeas, or beans. To add to this, proteins in lentils may be able to block a substance called angiotensin I-converting enzyme (ACE) in the body which normally triggers blood vessel constriction and, in turn, increases your blood pressure.4 5 6

Besides this, high levels of homocysteine is another risk factor for heart disease. And it can increase when your dietary folate intake is insufficient. A cup of lentils offers 358 mcg of folate, which makes up for over 90% of your recommended daily intake.7 Consuming lentils regularly and keeping up with your folate intake may prevent excess homocysteine from accumulating in your body.

Finally, being overweight or obese also increases your risk of heart disease. However, since lentils are very filling, they lower your overall caloric intake and keep your heart healthy.8 9 10 11

2. Lowers Blood Sugar Levels

If you’ve been trying to manage your blood sugar levels, the polyphenols in lentils might be helpful.12 One study found that consuming lentils regularly lowers blood sugar levels.13 While the researchers were certain this benefit was not solely due to the carb,

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protein, or fat content in lentils and, in fact, due to the polyphenols (antioxidants) in them, the exact mechanism behind this is uncertain.14 15

3. Aids Digestion

If you have a weak stomach and constantly have issues with your digestion, adding lentils to your diet might help. A cup offers 15.6 g of fiber, which adds bulk to your stool and makes its passage easier.16 In doing so, it prevents constipation and keeps your bowel

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movements regular.17

4. Prevents Pregnancy-Related Complications

Folate is an important nutrient for pregnant women. It is considered critical for preventing congenital disabilities. In fact, keeping up with the required folate intake has been shown to cut the chances of early delivery by 50% or more if consumed for at least a year before pregnancy. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that women consume 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid every day during their childbearing years and a cup of lentils provides almost 90% of the required folate needs for a day.18 19 20

5. Is A Good Source Of Protein

Protein is necessary to build and repair tissues as well as make enzymes, hormones, and other body chemicals. Protein is also the building block of bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood. Keeping up with it is, hence, necessary. A cup of lentils provides a whopping 17.86 g of the macronutrient. This makes it a good protein source for vegetarians and vegans. That said, it is important to note that lentils don’t have all the 9 amino acids to make them a complete protein like meat and eggs.21

6. Promotes Thyroid Health

If you’ve been diagnosed with thyroid disorders, stock up on lentils. A cup of their serving offers o.978 mg of manganese, which makes up for 19.56% of your recommended daily intake.22 This nutrient helps enzymes function and work properly in your body. It also

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plays a role in the production of thyroxine, a vital hormone that is required for the normal functioning of the thyroid gland, which helps you maintain a proper appetite, metabolism, weight, and organ efficiency. Including lentils in your diet might help manage your thyroid hormones.23

7. May Lower The Instances Of Epileptic Seizures

The leading cause of epilepsy in adults over 35 is a stroke, caused by decreased blood flow to your brain. Manganese is known to enlarge veins and efficiently carry blood to tissues like the brain, in turn, decreasing the risk of a stroke and epileptic seizures.24 In addition to this, part of the body’s manganese content is found in the brain with several studies suggesting that manganese levels may be lower in individuals with seizure disorders.25 Lentils might, hence, aid towards lowered instances of stroke and seizures.

8. May Prevent Cancer

Including lentils in your diet might keep you from developing cancer. They are rich in polyphenols (antioxidants) such as procyanidin and flavanols, which are known to have strong antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and neuroprotective effects. One study found that lentils inhibited the production of the inflammation-promoting molecule, cyclooxygenase-2. In addition to this, when tested in a lab, the polyphenols in lentil were able to stop cancer cell growth, especially on cancerous skin cells.26

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