Around the world, people enjoy the health benefits of lentils, part of a group of proteins known as pulses, which also includes beans, peas, chickpeas. Naturally gluten-free, lentils are rich in dietary fiber, protein, calcium, potassium, zinc, and iron. They help lower cholesterol and are a great addition to the diet especially for people diagnosed with blood glucose disorders.
Prior to the use of pharmaceutical medicines, lentils were used to treat diabetic conditions. When included with a meal, the high fiber content helps prevent blood glucose from rising rapidly after eating. Although calorie dense (230 cal/ one cup serving), lentils are low in fat and very filling – you won’t be hungry after a lentil meal!
You can find lentils in the bulk bin aisle or in prepackaged containers. When purchasing in bulk, try to buy organic and make sure there is no moisture in the bin or in the packaging. Look for whole, not cracked lentils. Store them in an airtight container in a cool, dark and dry place. They will keep up to a year. When buying canned lentils, watch for added salt or other preservatives. Unlike other canned veggies, lentils do not lose much of their nutritional potency.
Lentils are easy to prepare (no presoaking required as with other dry beans). Wash and strain lentils under cool water before cooking. You can boil lentils and store in the fridge for later use in casseroles, soups, rice or pasta dishes, salads, spreads/hummus, or soups. Cooked lentils stay fresh in the fridge in a covered container for about three days.
This week, try my Curried Lentil Soup.