I never knew what a lentil was until I became a Seventh-day Adventist and began to change my diet. I soon discovered that this little legume, loaded with nutrition, is truly another nutrition-filled gift from our Lord!
“Lentils are small, disk-shaped brown, reddish-orange, or brownish-green legumes that grow on an annual bush like plant and are native to central Asia. They are used throughout the Mediterranean region and the Middle East and are especially popular in India. In the United States, lentils are often enjoyed in soup. Lentils are dried as soon as they ripen and then sold that way. There are at least fifty varieties of lentils in addition to the brown variety most common in the West, with colors that range from yellow to red-orange to green. Lentils are distinguished from beans in that they don’t contain sulfur and therefore don’t produce gas. So anyone wanting the benefits of high fiber without the social unpleasantness associated with beans would do well to check out this cool little legume.
“But the real claim to fame for lentils is the fact that they are so loaded with fiber, especially soluble fiber. Soluble fiber breaks down as it passes through the digestive tract, forming a gel that traps some substances related to high cholesterol. Soluble fiber also helps control blood sugar by delaying the emptying of the stomach and retarding the entry of sugar into the bloodstream. This is why high-fiber foods like lentils have such a low glycemic load. Because fiber slows the digestion of foods, it can help blunt the sudden spikes in blood sugar and insulin that can cause you to be hungry again an hour after eating a low-fiber meal. Those constant spikes in blood sugar and insulin can also contribute to diabetes and can make weight very hard to take off. High-fiber diets have been consistently associated with better ‘glucose control’ for both diabetics and non-diabetics, and with better management of weight. High-fiber diets also are associated with lower risks for cancer and heart disease.
“A cup of [cooked] lentils contains a nice amount of protein—about 18g. But best of all, that same cup contains a whopping 16g of fiber. Lentils are also a terrific source of folate and a good source of at least seven minerals. One cup provides 37 percent of the Daily Value of iron and 49 percent of Daily Value for manganese, an important trace mineral that’s essential for growth, reproduction, wound healing, peak brain function, and the proper metabolism of sugars, insulin and cholesterol.
“Worth Knowing: Unlike beans, lentils need no presoaking and are ready in 20 to 30 minutes. Brown and green lentils hold their shape well after cooking and are excellent for salads or other dishes where you want texture. Red lentils cook quicker and work best in purees and other dishes where softness is an advantage.” 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth, by Jonny Bowden Ph. D, pgs. 87, 88.
|1 ½ cups lentils||½ tsp. basil|
|3 cups water||1 bay leaf|
|2 tsp. onion powder||2 cups stewed or canned tomatoes (add last)|
|1 ½ tsp. salt|
|Bring all to boil except tomatoes. Simmer till lentils are tender. When done add tomatoes. Serve as is or over rice.|