Within the daily diet of the human being are fruits, proteins, meats, vegetables and legumes, grains, which are essential for good health.
Among these are lentils, which are seeds that come from a plant belonging to the Fabaceae family , which grows once a year. This plant gives off a pod containing the seeds or small rounded grains, which contain rich nutrients.
For people who are not used to eating meat, lentils represent a great substitute, due to the large amount of protein and iron that they contribute to the body.
The immune system requires iron to function well in the body, in order to prevent anemia, help in the good health of nails, hair, skin and combat fatigue or exhaustion.
Lentils comprise one of the most common foods within the family meal, which is sometimes classified as a humble food, without taking into account the benefits it can be for health regardless of the social level of the person who eats it.
What are lentils?
Lentils are considered one of the foods that have a large amount of nutrients, vegetable proteins, which, when combined with rice, provide a high level of proteins similar to those provided by foods that come from animals (meats white and red).
They are one of the grains that contain a lot of fiber, being of great help in the case of digestive disorders.
Likewise, they contain minerals, vitamins and iron, which act when suffering from low hemoglobin, due to vitamin B-12 deficiency, allowing it to rise to normal values; Apart from this vitamin, the consumption of lentils provides phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, vitamins B1 and B2, znc and potassium, necessary for good health.
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Origin of lentils
The origin of lentils dates back about 11,000 years ago, originating from the Middle East, Syria specifically, called the Fertile Crescent, Turkey, Anatolia, Syria; where they can be found, currently, in the wild.
It is said that in Israel the first signs of its cultivation were found, with an approximate antiquity between 7000 and 9000 years; so it can be said that it is one of the first cultivated plants; spreading across the Mediterranean through Greece.
Egyptian civilizations stood out for the great cultivation of lentils and were considered the first to export lentils in ancient times. Lentils were said to be the food of royalty, because in 1200 BC, a painting from the time of Ramses III shows a servant preparing food with this legume.
In turn, it is said that it was the food given to the workers while they were in the construction of the pyramid of Cheops.
However, the Greeks and Romans determined that lentils was a food only for the poor.
On the other hand, in the fifth century, Hippocrates the doctor, mentioned the therapeutic benefits of lentils, so he prescribed a broth of this legume for liver patients.
During the Middle Ages, due to scarcity and hunger, the lentil regained value as a food.
Currently, the United States, Turkey and Spain are the countries that produce the most lentils; in Spain the areas with the highest cultivation are Valladolid, León, Burgos, Castilla, Toledo and La Mancha.
Scientific name of lentils
Lentils are known by the scientific name of ” lens culinaris”, from the Latin lens, lentis, which means “lentil”; This analogy is related to the fact that the lentil seed has the shape of a biconvex lens.
Composition of lentils
Within the composition of lentils is molybdenum (uric acid metabolism, sulfur, sexual activity in men) at high levels (148mcg), more than the ideal daily amount; iron (37%), manganese (49%), potassium, copper, zinc, phosphorus (10% each) and in small amounts selenium and calcium; proteins, fats, carbohydrates, fiber, energy (kcl), vitamin B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, C, K, E, choline, amino acids, fatty acids, saturated fatty acids, unsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids, acids omega6 fats, sugars such as fruit, maltose, lactose, glucose, sucrose, galactose.
It can be said that one cup contains approximately 358mcg of folic acid, more than the 90% recommended daily.
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How are lentils grown?
- The cultivation of lentils is carried out at the end of winter, preferably in cold climates, and in the autumn, when the climate is warmer.
- The seeds are soaked a day before, so that the growth is stronger.
- The moistened seeds are sown at a distance of about 15 to 20 centimeters approximately; growth is fast.
- Irrigation, it is watered at the beginning of the plantation, then it does not need much water, it tolerates drought and takes advantage of rainwater.
- The land or soil where it is planted must be permeable (allow water and air to flow), well drained, to prevent the plant from rotting before its growth.
- It requires sunlight, and it adapts to any climate.
- The temperature should be between 6-28 ° C.
- The care must be special, since it must be free of weeds around, take care of pests, diseases such as aphids, weevils, fungi.
- Harvesting is done in late summer or spring, it should have a color between green and yellow.
- With the help of a dalla, the plant is removed and then begins to separate the grains of the plant.
Characteristics of lentils
Among the characteristics of the lentil plant it is detailed: it belongs to the legume family or fabaceae, whose stem is between 30 to 40 cm, fragile and striated, with many branches, the leaves are of the oblong type (oval), stipula of the branches of the plants are lanceolate, tendrils (a kind of branch or leaf that protrudes from the plant, to hold on), the flowers are white, with small purple veins which are on an axillary peduncle that supports them ; the fruits are a small pod containing two to three seeds, which are usually of a variety of colors, such as brownish green, brown, gray, green, red, black, of a brown color, some have a small surface splashes of a darker color, and they are disc-shaped.
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Types of lentils
There are different types of lentils, which are detailed below:
- Castilian blonde or queen : light green color, of regular size and is the most consumed.
- Ermine blonde: it is larger and its consumption is very little.
- Verdiña: its size is small, easy to cook.
- Pardina: it is small grain, a little bigger than the verdiña, easy to cook
- Beluga: black, small and rounded, they look like caviar; they are hard to find in the markets.
- Urad ty : they are white grains, they come from India and have a high protein content.
- Verde Du puy : they are low in starch, with a nutty aroma, they come from Aurvenia, called “the caviar of the lentils”.
- Crimson or Canadian : it is of Turkish origin and the cooking lasts just 10 minutes, and it is excellent for pureeing.
- Red Chief : it is an Egyptian lentil, which is consumed in Pakistan, known as Masoor Dahl.
Benefits and properties of lentils
Used in weight loss diets
In weight loss regimens there should be no shortcuts, you must comply with a good balanced diet and lentils are legumes that can be included, in addition to an exercise routine, it accelerates the metabolism to help lose weight healthily.
- They contain fiber, and it is essential to help lose weight, it benefits the digestive system, keeping it clean and functioning as it should be; the fiber provides a feeling of fullness for much longer; helps lower blood cholesterol levels, which in turn leads to decreased appetite. What affects consuming fewer calories and in less quantity, favoring weight loss.
- Lentils are considered a low-fat protein; that is, approximately half a cup of lentils has 9 gr. of protein and just 115 calories, giving you a feeling of fullness, without the worry that too many calories have been consumed. Additionally, it helps in the development of muscle mass, which leads the metabolism to work more and produces a greater weight loss.
- Due to its high content of soluble fiber, lentils, when digested, produce a type of gel that adheres to bile and carbohydrates, causing a decrease in the level of absorption of food by the body, which favorably affects the reduction of appetite and the burning of calories that are consumed.
- The consumption of lentils increases energy: due to its soluble fiber content, it helps to break down carbohydrates slowly, in turn, they provide lasting and constant energy, vital for the best metabolic functioning in the training and exercise process.
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Recommended for cholesterol and constipation
The consumption of lentils helps in lowering blood cholesterol.
This legume has different beneficial nutrients to combat dyslipidaemia (plasma cholesterol level and high triglycerides), and hypercholesterolemia, in addition to being rich in iron, intervenes to increase hemoglobin and control anemia.
Lentils are rich in fiber and therefore do not cause constipation, this legume helps the intestines and colon work better and constantly, allowing a better and followed evacuation.
They help the intestines have a normal movement, thanks to their content of vitamins B1 and B2, phosphorus, zinc, magnesium and iron.
A recommended recipe that helps against constipation is lentil stew.
Benefits of lentils for diarrhea
Certain concerns have been raised if consuming lentils is appropriate when diarrhea or gastroenteritis occurs, because a diet based on water based on rice, apple, potatoes, carrots and any other food that accelerates the process is recommended. digestive.
However, there is no contraindication that limits the intake of lentils when suffering from this condition, because it neither produces it nor worsens it, on the contrary, it can be beneficial and nutritious.
What is recommended is to consume lentils when it is tolerable to this legume, taking into account the condition and state in which the person is, and the causes that caused the diarrhea.
Good for gastritis
People who suffer from gastritis must adhere to a diet, which can be said should be special, they must take care of the food they eat, because there are certain foods that have a negative effect on the stomach area, in such case, they can worsen the symptoms.
These legumes are not recommended to be consumed whole by people suffering from gastritis, because the body takes longer to digest them, which affects an increase in the production of stomach acids and therefore, exacerbate the discomfort caused by this condition. .
Therefore, it is advised that, if the person wishes to consume lentils, with this condition, it should be those that are of the broken grain type and prepare them as a puree or pâté, which will facilitate better digestion.
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What kind of food are lentils?
Lentils belong to the legume type, which have been determined as a staple food in both diet meals, because they offer and provide great nutritional and culinary possibilities, determined in certain places as an important star ingredient in certain dishes.
The great nutritional power that it provides, in addition to its antioxidant action, makes it a very valuable legume in the kitchen, since it can be combined with other types of food, either white fish, white meat, red meat, vegetables, citrus fruits , allowing take advantage of all its properties and enjoy its great taste.
Its high content of proteins, minerals, vitamins and fiber, make this legume of great value in the daily diet for any individual who wants to eat healthy, as well as patients suffering from diabetes, pregnant women, supplement in vegetarian meals, providing verifiable benefits to the body, as well as, if you want to gain muscle or muscle mass.
Do lentils produce gas?
While it is true that lentils provide great nutritional value for the body, it is also true that their consumption causes certain side effects that tend to be unpleasant and very uncomfortable, such as abdominal inflammation and gas, which makes them people, limit or condition their consumption.
What leads lentils to produce this unpleasant effect comes from their composition, which are the so-called oligosaccharides such as stachyose, raffinose, and verbascosa, a group of molecules that the body cannot digest, therefore, they remain accumulated right in the large intestine, which generates both the formation of gases and their bad smell.
To avoid this unpleasant discomfort, its consumption should be alternated and in a moderate way. However, the secret lies in how to prepare them, because it is one of the ways in which oligosaccharides disappear, so it must be taken into account:
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- Adding spices to cooking facilitate digestion, such as cumin, fennel, rosemary or thyme.
- Add a tablespoon of baking soda, this helps in the preparation and favors the digestive system.
- Soaking the lentils for approximately 24 hours will cause the shells or walls of the same to soften and break, and consequently, the oligosaccharides.
- Preferably, buy lentils that do not have skin or shell, for example, orange or pink lentils.
- An effective way that helps to counteract gas formation is by grinding legumes, preparing creams, purees, pates or soups.
What do lentils contribute to the body?
- Lentils contain fiber, an important ingredient that promotes intestinal function and transit, in addition to preventing constipation, and helps lower blood sugar levels.
- Due to its content of vitamins belonging to group B, (B2, B3, B6, B9 (folic acid), they act in the formation of red blood cells, hormones and cells, which in turn help prevent and control anemia; In the case of pregnant women, it helps to prevent problems in the development of the fetus (spina bifida), it collaborates in a better function of the nervous and immune system; it helps to stabilize blood sugar levels during pregnancy, it participates in preventing the formation of stones or kidney stones, it counteracts physical and mental fatigue, it is considered an excellent ingredient in eye care.
- Lentils have carbohydrates, which provide energy, so that the body performs its vital functions in the best way, it also allows for better daily physical activity.
- The iron provided by lentils helps the iron contained in the body to move better through cells and organs, in addition to strengthening the immune system, it also allows regulating body temperature and the thyroid gland, preventing fatigue, as well. how to help keep skin, hair and nails in good condition.
- The muscular and nervous system requires the magnesium provided by lentils for optimal functioning; helps to strengthen bones and allows the heart rate to remain stable, generating protection in the walls that line the blood vessels; the immune system is also favored because it improves the action against agents harmful to health.
- Lentils provide a certain amount of sodium and potassium, which allow a better balance of water required by the body and, in turn, makes the cardiovascular system function healthily.
- It improves memory and intellectual functions, due to the phosphorus it provides, in addition to favoring pregnant women in the production of breast milk.
- Lentils turn out to be a great antioxidant thanks to the zinc it provides, intervening in healthy bone growth, allowing the body to make better use of vitamin A.
- The proteins that lentils provide to the body, contribute to a better formation of muscle mass and greater muscle function.
- The Vitamins A and E that these legumes have, act as antioxidants, protecting the body against free radicals and the appearance of some pathogens, help to delay the appearance of degenerative diseases, provide protection to sight, promote better blood circulation in the body and is essential for an ideal development in the growth stage.
- The calcium provided by the consumption of lentils intervenes in nerve impulses, in addition to contributing to a better functioning of the muscles, secretion of hormones, maintaining the heart rate, helping in the proper formation of bones and teeth, and it becomes important to help counteract blood clotting.
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Healing properties of lentils
Among the healing properties that can be attributed to lentils are mentioned:
- They act as an effective laxative, small lentils promote intestinal digestion and control the formation and accumulation of gases.
- Because it is one of the nutritious foods, it can be considered the most complete because 55% of its content is starch, 25% is protein and fat, chloride and phosphate, which is very favorable for the health of the body.
- Due to its tannin content, it helps fight and control anemia.
- They provide strength and strengthen the nerves in convalescent people.
- It is a great nutritional supplement for children and diabetic patients.
- In case the person is suffering from hair loss, it provides iron and nutrients that help in this condition.
Diabetes and lentils
Diabetes is a disease that is reflected by the high level of sugar in the blood and by the inability of the pancreas to produce insulin; so the consumption of lentils is very beneficial for people who suffer from this disease.
They are a great source of protein, fiber, low in carbohydrates, as well as providing nutritional value, due to their contribution of B vitamins and minerals such as iron, magnesium, zinc, phosphorus, potassium and calcium.
In an investigation carried out by the St. Michael Hospital in Toronto (in Canada), it ensured that the daily intake of lentils or any other type of beans, would help to considerably control the level of sugar in the blood, in the case of patients with diabetes type 2, and in turn, reduce the risk of suffering a cardiovascular attack.
If the person has any doubts to consume lentils, you can mix it with any other vegetable (spinach, artichoke) it will help reduce the level of carbohydrates and the fiber will allow its digestion to be much slower.
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It is important to highlight that lentils have a very low glycemic index and therefore, a very low glycemic contribution, which means that the carbohydrates contained are processed very slowly and therefore, the so-called postprandial glucose peaks (post-meals) are very low. , compared to cereals and other root vegetables.
As regards, the diabetic can consume lentils and does not run the risk of suffering from hyperglycemia, unless he decides to combine it with some sugary food, such as chocolate, dessert; with the understanding that hypoglycemia is not attributed to the lentil but to the combination of foods that was made.
How do lentils benefit during pregnancy?
During pregnancy, women require a healthy and balanced diet, lentils represent a complete source of nutrients, which are necessary during pregnancy and after childbirth.
The consumption of this legume, provides carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins B1, B2 and B6, folates, iron, magnesium, copper and zinc in small amounts, so they can provide, among other things, doses of iron, which help to counteract the possible presence of anemia during pregnancy, in addition to fiber, a nutrient that helps in the evacuation process, that is, it acts against constipation, a very common condition in this stage of women.
Additionally, lentils provide certain folates, which interfere in some malformation in the fetal nervous system, spina bifida and anencephaly.
They are considered a nutritious food, which provides constant energy, beneficial in healing and after delivery, in addition to collaborating in the production of breast milk.
Due to its zinc content, it helps to strengthen the immune system and therefore, the healing of wounds.
On the other hand, both the iron and the folic acid that lentils provide, help with the good circulation of the baby, in case of breastfeeding, together with magnesium, they contribute to a better development of the baby’s nervous system.
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Lentils are considered an ideal food for pregnant women, due to their great nutritional value.
Advantages and disadvantages of lentils
Among the advantages that can be attributed to the consumption of lentils, we can mention:
- Being one of the legumes rich in protein, it is a food of economic value, healthy and helps to keep glucose and cholesterol under control.
- Provides nutrients, antioxidants, improves intestinal function, as well as digestion, helping the body work better.
- Since its origins, lentils have been characterized as the main source of food for various civilizations, who chose to consume and cultivate lentils compared to other legumes.
Among one of the disadvantages that can be attributed to the consumption of lentils, is that, if the person suffers from any disease that affects the rheumatism, kidneys, arthritic manifestation, sickness of the stomach, heart or circulation in general, because they are foods highly concentrated in nutrients and proteins, they should be consumed knowingly.
How to prepare the lentils?
To cook the lentils it is advisable to use cold water, instead of using hot water, it should be taken into account that, when finished cooking, the lentils can stick and remain as a stew, so it is advisable not to leave them cooking for a long time but be slow.
The container or casserole where the lentils are to be prepared will determine the cooking time that is needed, for example, if it is a clay casserole, it will require approximately one hour to an hour and a half of time, instead, if it To use a pressure cooker, the lentils will be ready within half an hour.
It is important to take into account how they are going to be prepared and what to accompany them with, in order to make a good choice of recipe and enjoy the flavor of this legume.
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Contraindications of lentils
Lentils, being a legume with a very good taste and nutritious, turn out not to be indicated in certain situations:
- When the person has a diagnosis of Gout or a high level of uric acid: Lentils should be consumed in less quantity, due to the high purine content (degradation of uric acid) of these foods.
- In case of allergies: although lentils do not have gluten, when they are processed in factories they can use cereals with gluten, it is advisable to read the packaging well in order to avoid any allergies.
- People who are allergic to these legumes, the intake of lentils or other legumes (soybeans, peas), nuts or seeds is not recommended.
Recipes with lentils
Lentils with chorizo
- A cup of lentils, approximately 375gr.
- Of water liter and a half.
- A carrot, tomato, paprika, potato, bay leaf, a medium onion, garlic (2 cloves).
- Chorizo (100 gr.)
- Vegetable oil (approximately 50 ml)
- Salt to taste.
(this preparation is for 4 people)
- Leave the lentils in a bowl with water overnight, so that they are clean, or they can also be washed just before cooking.
- Peel the carrots, the potato and chop them into small squares, the chorizo cut into slices, when ready, leave it to reserve.
- Place the lentils in a pot and add a liter and a half of water, then add green pepper cut lengthwise and pointed, the tomato cut in half and a bay leaf.
- Heat the pot over high heat, when it is about to boil, lower the heat and add the chopped and reserved ingredients, along with one or two small tablespoons of salt.
- Stir the lentils a couple of times, leave over low heat for approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour and a quarter, this will depend on the quality of the lentils, so it is recommended that, after 45 minutes, check if they are hard or soft; if they are still hard, cook for a few more minutes so that they cook well.
- While the lentils are cooking, prepare a sauce to give it more flavor.
- Peel the onion into pieces, chop the garlic into slices and then pour it into a pan with 50 ml of oil to cook them; The onion should be golden brown or crisp. When that happens, turn off the heat and add a small level tablespoon of sweet paprika, 150 ml of water and stir for 10 seconds.
- After placing in the grinder to make it like a paste, it is added to the lentils so that the flavors are better integrated.
- When the lentils are ready, they must be removed from the heat, remove the tomato, the paprika and the bay leaf.
- Serve to taste.
Lentils With Vegetables
Ingredients to prepare homemade vegetable lentils
- Brown lentils (400 gr. Approximately).
- 2 large onions, 2 potatoes, 2 garlic cloves, 6 carrots, a bay leaf.
- Sweet paprika from the vera (1 small spoonful).
- 2 large tomatoes, green pepper and ½ red pepper, 1 large leek.
- Black pepper and salt to taste.
Preparation of vegetable lentils
Lentils with vegetables, compared to traditional ones, do not have meat, but vegetables are added, such as leek and peppers, which give it a great flavor.
- Chop the onions, garlic, leek and peppers into very small pieces so that they melt during cooking.
- Peel the carrots, potatoes and tomatoes, cut the tomatoes into 2 parts, the carrots are thinly sliced and the potatoes into small pieces
- In a saucepan, place the extra virgin olive oil, the onions, the leek and the garlic cloves, fry everything for 10 minutes so that the flavors mix well.
- Add the bell peppers, sliced carrots, tomatoes, and bay leaf. Sauté for 2-3 minutes.
- Add a dessert-type teaspoon of sweet Vera paprika (you can mix sweet and spicy it depends on taste).
- Stir quickly with a wooden spoon so that it does not burn, place the drained lentils, stir again so that everything comes together well, about 3 minutes.
Final presentation of widowed lentils
- Pour cold water, until the container or container containing the lentils is almost full, in case of rectifying the amount of water, it is complemented with warm water in order not to cut the cooking.
- About half an hour after cooking, add the chopped potatoes, pepper and salt to taste.
- Lower to medium heat and cook slowly, for half an hour, it should be stirred in spaces using a wooden spoon, to avoid sticking.
- It should be tested if they require more cooking, for which an additional half hour is needed.
- After they are ready, remove from heat.
- Serve in a deep plate, place a chopped boiled egg, in order to complement the dish and make it more provocative.
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Nutritional information for lentils
- Lentils represent a great source of nutrients, among which are: carbohydrates, which are absorbed very slowly, which helps to keep glucose levels stable.
- The vegetable proteins provided by lentils are indicated (each 100g provide 25 g of protein, which is equivalent to 160g of meat or whole wheat bread), but in the end they turn out to be incomplete, because they lack essential amino acids, such as methionine (fat control)
- When combining lentils with cereal, for example, rice, which is rich in essential amino acids, would complement such as methionine, becoming a protein of high biological value, compared to the protein provided by foods that come from animals.
- Lentils contain fiber, and therefore provides a large dose compared to those provided by vegetables, that is, 100g provide 12% of the fiber that is required to be consumed daily.
- The consumption of lentils, provides approximately 8.6 mg of iron per 100g, representing a triple amount compared to that provided by meat; However, the iron in lentils (ferric), allows its absorption to be stronger than when consuming meat (ferrous), if it is consumed combined with vitamin C (fruits, dessert or pepper salad), it would considerably favor its absorption.
- The minerals provided by the consumption of 100g of lentils would be approximately 412mg of phosphorus, which represents the necessary and recommended daily half; When the lentil is cooked, for every 100g it contributes 12% of the necessary magnesium daily.
- As for potassium, it provides what is necessary for good bone health, antioxidants such as zinc and selenium that act to protect the body’s cells against free radicals.
- Lentils are rich in vitamins belonging to group B, such as niacin or vitamin B3, along with pyridoxine, riboflavin and thiamine, contribute to a better functioning of the nervous system.
- In addition, it contains high amounts of folate, and vitamin B9, helps the body transform it into folic acid.
Kathie Sand always saw the world of beauty as the terrain on which to build her professional career, a goal that was clear to her when she was only 15 years old. Her great concern to expand knowledge led her to settle in Paris where she studied hand in hand with the best beauty professionals and with the most advanced techniques for skin care.