Lentils are versatile legumes that can be added to hearty soups, cold salads and pasta dishes. As it turns out, they are also bursting with powerful nutrients that offer a huge range of impressive health benefits. Here are the top ten reasons why you should start cooking with lentils on a regular basis.
1. Helps Lose Weight
Just a single serving of lentils provides you with around half of your recommended daily intake of manganese, which is good news for those who are trying to shed a few pounds. Specifically, manganese stimulates efficient thyroid function, boosting metabolic rate and leading your body to burn more calories per minute.
2. Good for your Heart
One cup of lentils contains 20% of the amount of potassium you should have in a day, and potassium plays an important role in the regulation of blood pressure and heart rhythm. In addition, a serving of lentils contains over 60% of your daily intake of fiber, and fiber helpfully binds to LDL (i.e. ‘bad’ cholesterol) so that it can be excreted from your body as waste. Consequently, a diet that is high in fiber helps to reduce your chances of developing cardiovascular disease.
3. Boosts Energy Levels
Lentils are an excellent source of copper, which is connected to improved energy levels. In particular, copper aids your body in the process of metabolizing and utilizing the carbohydrates you consume, providing you with lots of usable energy that can give you a boost during a long day.
4. Protects against Cancer
A research team at Harvard School of Public Health has recently revealed that increased consumption of lentils is linked to a reduced risk of breast cancer. Investigations are ongoing, but it is suspected that the connection is at least partly explained by the presence of powerful antioxidants in lentils. Lentils are also packed with folate, with one serving containing approximately 90% of your recommended daily intake. As a result, lentils may reduce your risk of developing cancers of the digestive system, uterus, lungs and cervix.
5. Lowers Risk of Neural Tube Defects
The large amount of folate in lentils can be extremely useful for pregnant women, as developing children depend on adequate supplies of folate for the development of their central nervous systems. Babies who don’t get enough folate during gestation are more likely to develop neural tube defects like spina bifida and anencephaly.
6. Prevent Anemia
The high iron content of lentils helps to make sure that enough oxygen is transported throughout your body. People with iron deficiencies can become very tired and develop anemia, so lentils could be particular useful for those who are prone to anemia. In particular, post-menopausal women may want to consume more lentils, as the female body needs greater levels of iron in later life.
7. Promote Bone Health
The folate in lentils also helps to maintain good musculoskeletal health, and studies show that people who consume the most folate are less likely to develop osteoporosis (i.e. brittle bones that are easily fractured). It is hypothesized that this correlation exists because folate deficiency allows a build of an amino acid that is linked to bone weakness.
8. Keep Blood Sugar Under Control
Lentils can regulate blood sugar levels by leading to slower absorption of carbohydrates and preventing dramatic spikes in blood sugar. This property of lentils may be of particular interest to diabetics.
9. Aids Digestive Function
Since lentils are so rich in folate, eating them helps to promote regular bowel movements and discourage constipation. In addition, a high intake of fiber is linked to a lower risk of developing colorectal cancers over the course of your lifetime.
10. Promotes Oral Health
Finally, research on cultivating healthy teeth and gums shows that lentils (as well as other foods that contain plenty of folate) can help to reduce the risk of suffering from inflamed gums and gum disease.