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 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 pre-soaking 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.

Photo: rtsubin/bigstockphoto.com

References:

Future of Food: Pulses & Nutrition. Accessed on 6 Sep 2016: http://pulses.org/future-of-food/pulses-nutrition

Video: NutritionFact.org. “Diabetics Should Take Their Pulses” http://nutritionfacts.org/video/diabetics-should-take-their-pulses/

Helmstadter, A. “Antidiabetic drugs used in Europe prior to the discovery of insulin.” Pharmazie (2007) 62(9):717 – 720. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17944329

MedicalNewsToday.com. Accessed 6 Sep 2016: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/297638.php

World’s Healthiest Foods: Lentils. Accessed 6 Sep 2016: http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=52

Singhal, P., Kaushik, G., Mathur,P. “Antidiabetic potential of commonly consumed legumes: A review.” Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr (2014) 54(5):655 – 672. Accessed 6 Sep 2016: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24261538

Thompson, S.V., Winham, D.M., Hutchins, A.M. “Bean and rice meals reduce postprandial glycemic response in adults with type 2 diabetes: A cross-over study.” Nutr J (2012) 11:23. Accessed 6 Sep 2016: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22494488

MindBodyGreen.com. “7 Health Benefits of Lentils” Accessed 6 Sep 2016: http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-5488/7-Health-Benefits-of-Lentils.html