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The lentil is an edible legume. There are four main categories of lentils: brown, green, red/yellow, and specialty. Brown lentils are the most common variety.

Thought to have originated in the Near East or Mediterranean area, lentils have been a source of sustenance for our ancestors since prehistoric times. They are the oldest pulse crop known to man and one of the earliest domesticated crops.

  1. The carbonized remains of lentil dated to 11,000 BC from Greece’s Franchthi cave are the oldest known remains.
  2. Lentil artifacts have been found on archeological digs on the banks of the Euphrates River dating back to 8,000 BC and there is evidence of the Egyptians, Romans, and Hebrews eating this legume.
  3. The word “lentil” comes from the Latin lens, and indeed, this bean cousin is shaped like the double convex optic lens that took its name from the lentil.
  4. In the 18th century, King Louis XV’s wife, Marie Leszczynska, made lentils fashionable among royalty and they were nicknamed “the queen’s lentils.”

5 Health Benefits of Lentils

Protein Rich

Lentils are a rich source of protein (26% of lentils’ calories are attributed to protein) making them a great alternative to meat or fish. Lentils are the third-highest in protein, by weight, of any legume or nut.

Like other legumes, lentils are low in a couple of essential amino acids, namely methionine and cysteine. This is easily addressed by combining lentils with cereal grains such as rice or wheat.

Lower Cholesterol

One 8-week study in 39 people with overweight or obesity and type 2 diabetes found that eating 1/3 cup (60 grams) of lentils each day increased levels of HDL (good) cholesterol and significantly reduced levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides.

Digestive Health

Lentils are especially rich in prebiotic fiber which promotes digestive function and ‘fuels’ the beneficial gut bacteria which are so important for our health. Lentils help prevent constipation and other digestive disorders like irritable bowel syndrome and diverticulosis.

Increase Energy

Iron deficiency is a common cause of fatigue. Not getting enough iron in the diet can affect how efficiently the body uses energy.

Lentils contain a high amount of iron, which is needed by the body for optimum hemoglobin production. About 36% of the iron of the Daily Recommended value can come from eating 1 cup (200 grams) of lentils every day. Iron deficiency is a common cause of fatigue.

Women aged 18 to 50 years are particularly susceptible to iron deficiency. Not getting enough iron in the diet can affect how efficiently the body uses energy.

Heart Health

Several studies have shown that high fiber foods reduce your risk of heart disease. Lentils are also a great source of folate and magnesium. Folate lowers your homocysteine levels, a serious risk factor for heart disease.

Magnesium improves blood flow, oxygen and nutrients throughout the body. 

Studies have found that the potassium, calcium, and magnesium in lentils can decrease blood pressure naturally. Foods high in these minerals form a key partTrusted Source of the DASH eating plan. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) recommend this diet for bringing down blood pressure.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), lentils are one of the best food sourcesTrusted Source for potassium.

Discover our best lentil recipes…

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