Lentils are the edible seeds that belong to the legume family. These lentils mostly consist of two halves covered in a husk. Both the seeds are lens-shaped, probably why they are also called Lens culinaris in Latin. They are also one of the oldest known sources of food, dating back more that 9,000 years.
Lentils can be found consumed in Europe, as well as in many Asian countries. India has the largest number of vegetarians and lentils can be a substitute for meat in supplying thr required protein. One very good way to consume lentils is after they have sprouted because sprouted lentils contain methionine and cysteine. The two amino-acids are very significant in muscle building and strengthening of the whole body. Methionine is an essential amino acid that is supplied through the food and cysteine is a non-essential amino acid.
The health benefits of lentils include high protein content, improved digestion, a healthy heart, diabetes control, cancer control, weight loss, a solution for anemia and better electrolytic activity due to potassium.
Lentils contain one of the highest amount of protein originating from a plant. The amount of protein that can be found in lentils is up to 35%, which is comparable to red meat, poultry, fish and dairy products. Lentils also contain carbonhydrates. They are also a good source of dietary fiber and have a low amount of calories. Other nutritious components include molybdenum, folate, tryptophan, manganese, iron, phosphorous, copper, vitamin B1 and potassium.
• Lentils, especially sprouted ones, contain all the essential amino acids that out body requires for good muscle-building and smooth functioning of the body.
• Lentils have been found to help in controlling blood sugar levels, due to their high amount in dietary fiber. Dietary fiber slows down the rate at which food is absorbed by the blood and thus maintains the sugar levels constantly.
• As lentils have a high amount of dietary fiber, it improves digestion, if consumed regularly. It also helps in easy bowel movement, resulting in decreased constipation.
• Lentils, with their negligible amounts of fat, are an ideal source of protein withouth adding any extra fat to the body, thus promoting a healthy heart. The legume also contains magnesium, which helps in relaxing cardiovascular muscles and helping lower blood pressure.
• Lentils contain numerous antioxidant factors which can decreade the chances of developing atherosclerosis.
• It has been reported that a type of protein called plant lectins, found in lentils, wheat, peanuts, peas and soybeans have a great influence on cancer cells. These lectins cause cytotoxicity and apoptosis, meaning they have a great potential to control cancer growth.
• Lentils are a great source of vitamin B-complex, like folate or folic acid. Folate can help in the formation of new red blood cells and can also be effective against hypertension and DNA damage, which may result in cancer.
• The plethora of vitamins and minerals present in lentils are helpful in optimum brain functioning.
• Lentils are rich in potassium, which is enhances and stabilizes electrolytic activity. It also aids in the functioning of other organs, like the heart, brain and kidneys.