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Lentils and their nutrition, the rule of preparation of this food

Updated: Mar 4

  • Lentils are a type of edible seed from the legume family. The food has an extremely high-quality nutritional value. Its quality is reflected in terms of nutritional composition, and very simple and quick preparation, unlike other “harder” legumes, such as beans. Lentils are popular in the food world. The history of its diet dates back to present-day Central Asia.

  • Lentils grow in pods that contain two seeds each. The seeds have an oval and flattened appearance, like a disk, from which they got their name. Lentil seeds are tiny, although they can be smaller than that. You can see it on sale in the form of a whole disk or half of a disk, and in different colors, and these are the characteristics by which we distinguish the types of lenses.

  • Lentils have an excellent ability to absorb different aromas and spices, and are the most popular in Indian cuisine. Due to its rich nutritional profile and proven positive impact on health, it adds to the value of your daily intake of micronutrients and various bioactive compounds. Lentils are prepared very simply and quickly. There are only a few steps you need to follow to cook lentils perfectly:


Before cooking, it is necessary to first rinse the lentils with cold water to get rid of possible impurities on the surface of the seeds;

  • Lentils are always cooked in a ratio of 3:1, that is, you add 3 times the amount of liquid (water, stock, etc.) to the quantity of lentils;

  • As soon as the lentils boil, reduce the temperature to simmer, and cover the pan.

A few more notes:

Whole lentils, such as brown or green lentils, need about 20–25 minutes to cook, while varieties of red or yellow lentils, which are smaller and halved, need less time, 10–15 minutes;

Lentils should be salted after cooking, not before, because in that case they can be quite tough and less tasty;

Lentils do not need to be soaked before cooking like other legumes.


Types of lenses

  • Types of lenses are characterized by a spectrum of colors that vary from yellow and red to brown or greenish brown. Several types of lentils are available for sale, and those commercial types are mostly used in the kitchen. These are some of the most popular types of lentils:


Brown lentilsthe type that is consumed the most. Due to its starch composition, it has a simple “earthy” taste. It is excellent for longer cooking, like stews, because it keeps its shape.

French “green” lentilsthis type comes exclusively from the French province of Le Pay. It is similar in color, except that the third of the lens is streaked with green. They have a note of slightly strong and spicy taste, and retain their shape during cooking.

Green Lentils – This type varies in shape and size and is usually considered a cheaper variant of French green lentils.

Yellow or red lentil – is a much smaller and halved disk shape. It cooks much faster than the others. It is ideal for making quick and popular Indian dishes, and has a slightly sweet taste.

Black lentil — a type of small lentil that got its name because of its distinctive black color. Unlike red or yellow lentils, black lentils retain their shape when cooked and are characterized by a better ability to absorb other spicy aromas.


Nutritional value

  • Lentils are extremely healthy food. It has an excellent, rich nutritional profile that certainly adds to the variety and quality of our diet.

  • According to the USDA, the largest nutritional database, a 100 gram serving of lentils has 352 calories, of which 63% of calories come from carbohydrates and 25% from protein. It is very low in fat like most vegetables, and only about 1% of energy comes from fat. Water makes up about 8% of the total composition of the lens.

Proteins


  • Lentils are very rich in proteins. There are about 25 grams of protein per 100 grams of lentils, which is a splendid amount of protein for a plant-based food. In that sense, it can be a magnificent alternative to meat.


Among legumes, they are the second richest in proteins, while soybeans take first place. It has a good ratio of essential and non-essential amino acids in the protein. During cooking or any other heat treatment, the protein properties remain the same and are not lost.


Carbohydrates


  • As we said, 63% of the composition of lentils is carbohydrates - there are about 63.5 grams of carbohydrates per 100 grams.

  • About 11 grams of carbohydrates belong to fiber. There are 10.7 grams of dietary fiber per 100 grams of lentils, so this amount meets about 11% of the daily fiber needs. Among other legumes, lentils have the highest percentage of insoluble fiber.

  • Lentils are known for their extremely high starch content. The uniqueness of this starch is reflected in its ability to be digested slowly (insoluble fibers also greatly contribute to slower digestion), so lentils have proven to be a good food for diabetics.

  • Part of the carbohydrates in lentils are prebiotics. Prebiotics are very important compounds for our body. They have the role of feeding intestinal bacteria (intestinal flora, intestinal microbiota or gastrointestinal microbiota), which is very significant for maintaining a healthy balance of the organism. The amount of prebiotics ranges from 12 to 14 grams per 100 grams of lentils.


Minerals and vitamins


  • Lentils are very low in sodium and fat, and on the contrary, they are rich in the mineral potassium. The correct ratio of potassium to sodium would be 1:30, which makes lentils an excellent food for obese people and people with cardiovascular diseases.

  • Lentils are rich in iron minerals, and with 100 grams of food, they meet about 50% of daily needs. Studies have shown that frequent consumption of cooked lentils has a proven effect on lowering the risk of getting anemia.

  • Lentils are also rich in minerals zinc (35%), magnesium (13%), phosphorus (40%), and calcium (6%).

  • As for vitamins, it is rich in vitamin B complex, of which folates (vitamin B9) stand out the most. The amount of 100 grams of food satisfies, even, 90% of the daily needs for folates. Due to the rich sources of folate and potassium, and iron, and the poor source of sodium, lentils are an excellent food for pregnant women, nursing mothers and developing children.

  • Lentils are also moderately rich in vitamins C and K. You can see all other values ​​of minerals and vitamins, as well as other nutrients, in our table of detailed nutritional values ​​of lentils.


How to prepare them

  • Some nutritionists believe that cereals provide the body with all the necessary nutrients, because they are rich in vitamins, minerals and contain the most vegetable proteins. In order to extract as many useful ingredients as possible from cooked dishes, we need to know how to properly prepare these foods, especially how to prepare lentils.


  • Proper cooking of lentils ensures that you preserve the beneficial ingredients. Wash the lentils first under running water to remove the husks and damaged grains. After that, you can soak the lens in water and let it stand for 2–3 hours. In this way, the lentils will swell, which will greatly facilitate and speed up cooking.


  • When cooking lentils, add some salt and limontus. If the lentils are difficult to cook, add 1–2 pinches of baking soda to the pan, as it helps to cook the lentils and beans faster and easier. Drain the cooked lentils and cover them again with warm water.

  • The cooking time of lentils depends on the different types of lentils:


Red lentils are cooked for 10–15 minutes;


Brown lentils are prepared in about 25–30 minutes;


Green lentils are cooked for about 40 minutes;


Orange lentils are cooked for about 20 minutes on the stove.


  • Red lentils are less well known than green. It is a good source of microelements and suits both young and old. It is a good choice for people who are on a diet and want to eat healthy, but do not have too much time to prepare other dishes.


  • The cooking time of green lentils is almost the same as that of red lentils, there are slight differences. When cooking red lentils, it is best to put them in boiling water. Place a pot of water (about 2 cups) or broth on the stove. Add 1 cup of washed lentils and stir.


  • When it boils, reduce the heat of the stove, cover and let it cook. Five minutes before the lentils are cooked, remove them from the heat and add salt to taste. You can also add 2–3 tablespoons of olive oil — that way the lentils will have a more delicate taste, and you can also add other vegetables — carrots, onions, peppers.

Don't forget green spices, such as celery, rosemary, bay leaf, parsley!


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