Lentils form an important course of diet in the Indian food. Dal (lentil preparation) is almost compulsorily served whether you are eating at home, in a restaurant, at a function, at a religious function or at a marriage. The method of preparation may be different in different parts of India, as lentils are found in a number of varieties. If red masoor is liked in certain parts, arhar dal looks appealing in the thalis (plates) in certain other parts of India. There are many reasons for you to add lentils to your eating plan. The main reason is they are high in nutrition and low in calories. They are quick and easy to make and have a wonderful taste. Let us see why we should add lentils to our diet.
High protein: Lentils have the highest protein among all nuts and legumes. They make up the proteins in vegetarians. This is one of the best health benefits one can enjoy.
Folic acid: Lentils are exceptionally high in folic acid which can help prevent certain birth defects and may also prevent dementia and bone fractures in people with osteoporosis. It supports nervous system, aids in energy metabolism and is required for the synthesis of DNA and red blood cells. If our diet lacks adequate folate we are more likely to develop depression, heart disease, cancer and vision-related problems or hearing loss. It is specially important for pregnant women to include folate-rich foods like lentils in their diets. Pregnant women who eat at least 600 micrograms of folate daily may lessen the risk of their child being born with a birth defect. Folate reduces the homocysteine levels, a risk factor for cardiovascular diseases.
Fiber: The soluble fiber in lentils helps lower blood cholesterol levels in the body, thus reducing the risk of stroke as well as reducing the cardiovascular diseases by keeping the arteries clean. It also improves digestive health and helps in preventing constipation. In addition, fiber and its complex carbohydrates in lentils help in steady and slow burning of energy.
Vitamins & minerals: High levels of magnesium in lentils go a long way in protecting the heart. Magnesium helps in better blood flow. Magnesium also plays an important role in relaxing the muscles that lines inside of the arteries. This helps lower the blood pressure and allows blood to flow more freely.
High in iron: Lentils are loaded with iron and are a great way to stock up the body’s iron storage especially for people who don’t eat red meat and for vegetarians. Iron serves as protection against anemia. People who are deficient in iron may develop anemia or neurological problems like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Iron also carries oxygen throughout the body which is important for metabolism and energy production.
Low in calories: Even though lentils are high in essential nutrients such as protein, fiber, minerals and vitamins, they are low in calories and have no fat. So lentils can be added to a healthy diet.
Other health benefits: According to a research, the healthy heart effect of legumes has been found to be greater in men than in women. That may be because men tend to have worse eating habits and higher cholesterol levels than women, so they might gain more from switching to healthier diet.
By Nibhanapudi Suguna