Get Excited for the Benefits of Lentils
By Carol DiPirro • October 24th, 2010 • 10264 Views
They are not the most exciting food. They don’t fill your house with an enticing aroma. Yet with a mild flavor that is earthy and comforting, they will draw you in on a cold fall evening. They’ve been part of the human diet since first cultivated in the Near East about 10,000 BC. The lentil plant is now grown worldwide for the many nutritional benefits its simple little seeds offer.
Lentils, a small but nutritionally strong member of the legume family, are a very good source of cholesterol-lowering fiber. Not only do lentils help lower cholesterol, they are of special benefit in managing blood-sugar disorders since their high fiber content prevents blood sugar levels from rising rapidly after a meal. Lentils also provide good amounts of important minerals, B-vitamins, and protein-all with virtually no fat. The calorie cost of all this nutrition? Just 230 calories for a whole cup of cooked lentils. This tiny nutritional giant fills you up--not out, which is always a plus.
Lentils are legumes, they grow in pods that contain either one or two lentil seeds that are round, oval or heart-shaped disks and are oftentimes smaller than the tip of a pencil eraser. They may be sold whole or split into halves with the brown and green varieties being the best at retaining their shape after cooking. Compared to other types of dried beans, lentils are relatively quick and easy to prepare. They readily absorb a variety of flavors from other foods and seasonings and are available throughout the year. Lentils should be stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. Stored this way, they will keep for up to 12 months. If you purchase lentils at different times, store them separately since they may feature varying stages of dryness and therefore will require different cooking times. Cooked lentils will keep fresh in the refrigerator for about three days if placed in a covered container.
Lentils may be prepared in a number of ways; by combining them with beans, rice, or a variety of vegetables. To prepare, always begin by cleaning them thoroughly. First, remove any debris or stones from the lentils then remove the cracked and damaged lentils. Lastly, place the lentils in a strainer and wash them under cold running water. Lentils can be cooked without presoaking as well. Use three cups of water for each cup of lentils and boil them...
Nutrition, Dietary Fiber, Healthier Diet, Health Promoting Foods, Eating for Energy, healthy recipes