Take your (edible) pulses.
Lentils have been gathered and eaten for about 60,000 years, and farmed for 10,000 years, making them one of the world’s oldest food sources. They are technically an edible pulse in the legume family that grows on a bushy plant. But I never quite know what to do with them. After learning more about their flexibility and health benefits for this week’s Healthy Habits, I’m inspired to use them more in my kitchen, and I hope you will be, too. Here’s why we should eat more lentils:
You will not be bored. Like Skittles, lentils let us taste a rainbow, but they are much, much healthier. According to Bon Appetit, you can use brown and green lentils in soups, stews, pureed dips and spreads. Red, yellow and orange lentils are best for Indian dishes such as curries and daal. Try French lentils in a salad. Black lentils, called Black Beluga lentils, work in soups or salads and are known for holding their shape well as they have thicker skins.
Reduce the risk of diabetes. A study at the University of Guelph, in Canada, recently found that swapping out half of the starches in a meal—such as potatoes or rice—for lentils—can significantly help the body better respond to the carbohydrates. Replacing half a serving of rice with lentils caused blood glucose to drop by up to 20 percent, while substituting potatoes with lentils led to a 35-percent drop.
And possibly a lot of other maladies… “Polyphenol-rich lentils have potential health benefits as complementary and alternative medicines, which are exerted in the form of antioxidant, antibacterial, anti-fungal, antiviral, cardioprotective, anti-inflammatory, nephroprotective, antidiabetic, anticancer, anti-obesity, hypolipidemic and chemopreventive activities,” reads a 2017 study that was published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences.
They have important amino acids. Sprouted lentils are high in methionine and cysteine. Methionine is an essential amino acid that the body uses to build and repair tissue. Cysteine is a building block important in repairing the immune system.
You’ll eat like a prince, on a pauper’s budget. Last fall, The Local France website reported that sales of Puy lentils from Le Puy, France, had shot up after Prince George’s preschool lunch menu included them. The young prince also enjoys delicacies such as smoked mackerel and lamb ragu at school. Lentils, though, are very inexpensive. I found a 20-pound bag for $16. Here’s to eating well, on less!