They’re not only hearty, warming and the quintessential comfort food, but lentils are the most nutritious member of the legume family. The nutty, earthy pulses are packed with vitamins, macronutrients and fibre, making them the perfect addition to your plate – especially if you’re a plant-based eater.
Without further ado, here’s a lesson in lentils!
Health benefits of lentils
Protein is the building block of the body, and essential for bone, muscle, skin, hair, hormone and digestive health. Lentils have a pretty impressive ratio: 18 grams per cup. That’s more protein than an egg! Vegetarians and vegans, you’ve found yourself a winner.
Along with aiding red blood cell function, iron is brilliant at boosting metabolism, mood and digestion. You know when you’re feeling a bit flat, and your doctor says it’s a good idea to check your iron levels? That’s why. While plant-based foods like beans, oats, chickpeas, quinoa and pumpkin all contain iron, lentils are the star, with over 30 per cent of the average person’s daily iron needs in one cup. Not bad, huh? Throw them into a salad with some of the above ingredients, and you’ll have one balanced, seriously iron-rich meal.
Something of a quiet achiever, vitamin B6 is key to lifting your mood and metabolism. It promotes energy, enhances mental clarity (and thus, productivity) and helps the body to relax during times of stress. Lentils boast high levels of vitamin B6, so eat up.
When you have a big meeting or busy day ahead, load up on lentils. They’re super rich in folate, a B vitamin that promotes healthy brain function. Talk about brain food! Folate also plays a vital role in cell repair, metabolism, DNA synthesis and heart health.
As you already know, fibre is one of the cornerstones of a healthy diet. It helps food to move through the digestive tract, allowing for good, regular bowel movements. It also revs up the metabolism, reduces cholesterol, and assists with keeping blood sugar levels stable – so you don’t ride on the crash-and-burn rollercoaster all day long. Lentils are 44 per cent insoluble dietary fibre, and it doesn’t get much better than that! They’re also lower in starch and natural sugar than other legumes, making them easier to digest.
Lentils are also a fab source of phytochemicals, vitamins A and C, potassium, calcium, magnesium and complex carbs for a happy, healthy body. If that isn’t perfection…’
How to eat lentils
Lentils as versatile as they are nutritious. The green and brown varieties have a nuttier flavour, while the reddish ones are a bit sweeter. Easy to cook, they’re all great in salads, stews, casseroles and soups. For a quick weekday lunch or dinner, we’re partial to Amy’s Kitchen Lentil Vegetable Soup. Along with lentils, it contains organic veggies (think green beans, tomatoes and spinach), olive oil, spices, garlic and sea salt and pepper. De-lish.
What's your favourite way to incrorporate lentils into your meals?