healthy eating, Nutrition

Functional Food Friday: Lentils and Pulses

Functional Food Friday: Lentils and Pulses

Lentils belong to the pulse family, which also includes beans and peas.  Pulses are often considered to be “nutritional powerhouses” or “perfect foods” because they contain lots of good stuff and very little bad stuff.  For instance, lentils are gluten free, cholesterol free, dairy free, low glycemic index, and very low in fat, but they are an excellent source of fiber, protein, iron, potassium, and other antioxidants.

Lentils are not only one of the most nutritious foods on the planet, they are also delicious and versatile! Lentils can replace grains or meat in recipes, and are great in soups, stews, curries, casseroles and salads. You can also bake cakes, muffins and other desserts with lentil puree. Check out this Gluten Free Almond Orange Torte made with lentil puree. Did I also mention that lentils are ridiculously inexpensive?! Lentils are probably the cheapest health food in existence! For more on information on cooking with lentils check out this website.

I especially like lentils and other pulses, because they are gluten free and provide many of the nutrients that are at risk on a typical gluten free diet.  For instance, one half cup of cooked lentils provides 12 grams of protein and 9 grams of fiber, nearly 100% daily value for manganese, and 10% of the daily value for iron and folate. To increase the absorption of nutrients in lentils and other pulses, cook them thoroughly, and add citrus, tomato or vinegar to your recipes.

The one negative side effect of eating lentils and beans is of course….. gas.  To avoid stinking up the office, incorporate lentils and other pulses into your diet in small amounts, and eat them on a regular basis.  Be sure to rinse canned and dry lentils and beans, to help reduce the side effects. Cooking lentils with spices like numeric, garlic, and ginger may also help.

Eating lentils and other pulses on a regular basis, can help support healthy blood sugar and cholesterol levels, promote a healthy weight and contribute to a healthy gut.  Lentils and beans contain a prebiotic fiber that is fermented in the colon by good bacteria. For more information on the health benefits of lentils and other pulses, check out this website.   New to lentils? Try my Slow Cooker Lentil Spaghetti Sauce!

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