Lentils are one of nature’s nutrient powerhouses.
They contain generous doses of fiber, protein and iron, which are all vital to maintain healthy weight, digestion and energy levels.
What I love most about lentils is that they’re inexpensive, incredibly versatile and super easy to make. You can whip up anything from salads to soups to veggie burgers and even get fancy with a vegetarian pate. I always keep a jar of dried lentils stocked in my pantry for any time I want to make something easy, filling and delicious.
Here are 5 reasons why you should consider adding lentils into your diet, especially if you’re a vegetarian or vegan (but also if you’re a meat eater as well.)
Lentils contain both insoluble and soluble fiber. Soluble fiber absorbs water and creates a gel in your stomach, which helps slow down digestion and makes you feel fuller. Insoluble fiber adds bulk to your stool, which helps to prevent constipation and therefore is essential in healthy digestion and immune health. Fiber is essential to maintaining heart health and numerous studies have shown its benefits in reducing bad cholesterol and reducing the risk of heart disease.
Because fiber slows down digestion and makes you feel more satiated, you will be less likely to overeat and have more balanced blood sugar levels as well. This will prevent extreme high and low energy swings and give your body a steady stream of slow burning energy throughout the day.
Along with other beans and legumes, lentils are a great source of plant-based protein. Adequate protein is essential to curbing your cravings, helping your muscle and tissue repair and regenerate, healthy hair and balance energy levels.
Iron is the main component to hemoglobin, which carries oxygen from your lungs throughout your body and gives blood its deep red color. If you don’t have enough iron, you can’t make enough red blood cells and this can lead to iron deficiency anemia. Iron is also important for muscle, skin hair and brain health. Many people that have iron deficiency experience extreme fatigue, weakness, brittle hair and nails, weakened immune function and difficulty focusing.
Despite common thinking that most vegetarians and vegans are iron deficient, studies have shown the contrary. The reason for this is that a healthy vegetarian and vegan diet is rich in iron containing foods such as nuts, seeds, beans, dark leafy greens, healthy grains such as quinoa and buckwheat. Because plant-based sources of iron are more difficult to absorb than animal-based sources, it’s important to make sure that you’re getting adequate amounts of iron and also eating foods rich in Vitamin C, which helps in iron absorption.
5. WEIGHT MANAGEMENT
As mentioned, balanced blood sugar levels help with appetite control, better energy levels and even better moods. Because of these things, when you eat foods that are nutrient dense, such as lentils, you will be less likely to over eat and have much more energy to stay active and get through your workouts. If you’re looking to maintain or lose weight, including foods such as lentils in your diet will be a great step to reaching your goals.