Eating healthy can help reduce people’s risk for heart disease, blood pressure, diabetes, osteoporosis, several types of cancer and maintain a healthy body weight. I absolutely love lentil soup. It is my second favorite soup after Jamaican chicken soup with dumplings. I enjoy eating lentil soup with or without meat. But I recommend lowering meat consumption by at least 15 percent. Why do I love lentil soup so much? Well my mother introduced this ancient bean into our diet early on during my childhood and made excellent lentil soup. So I fell in love! There are great some benefits to eating lentils that you may not be aware of. Lentils are a nutritious ingredient that is high in protein and fiber. They are a member of the legume family and come in red, brown, black and green varieties. These beans are an excellent source of folate, iron, manganese, potassium, selenium and calcium. Lentils are cheap to buy, quick and easy to prepare.
You might ask yourself “what is the big deal about these beans? They are also a very good source in zinc, copper, riboflavin, niacin, magnesium, and pantothenic acid. Did you know that lentils can also help prevent constipation? Remember when I talked about fiber intake in the last blog highlighting the importance of eating breakfast including oatmeal? Well it turns out that plant foods like lentils which are high in fiber also prevents constipation thereby promoting a healthy digestive tract. Dietary selenium comes from nuts, cereals, mushrooms and lentils! A number of recent studies implicated that selenium may prevent inflammation, chronic diseases such as cancer and diabetes and improves our immune system. The fiber content in lentils is also associated with a reduced risk of colorectal cancer. According to American Heart Association, an increase in fiber intake can reduce LDL cholesterol (low density lipoprotein) aka “bad cholesterol.” Also some studies reveal that it protect our hearts’ health.
But ladies and gentlemen, have you ever thought to yourselves, “the older you are the more tired you become?” Well your fatigue may be due to iron deficiency. Lentils are a great source of hon-heme iron. One cup of cooked lentils contains over 1/3 of daily iron needs which is great for women aged 18 to 50 years susceptible to iron deficiency. Our bodies can easily absorb non-heme iron. Make sure to schedule an appointment to see your primary care physician about iron deficiency. You might need additional iron supplements and other dietary means to boost your iron levels. Ladies, if you’re pregnant please be aware that folate is very critical for preventing congenital disabilities. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is strongly recommended that all women during their childbearing years should consume 400 micrograms of folic acid every day. It is found that one cup of lentils contain almost 90% of the required folate that needed per day. Please visit your Obstetrician for recommendations for folic acid intake. Every woman and her pregnancy is different.
However, if you are planning to increase your overall fiber intake, please make sure to drink plenty of liquids to prevent constipation. Too much fiber may cause constipation. Be careful with consuming excessive amount of fiber because you may want to avoid the embarrassment of passing gas (flatulence)!