Nutritional Benefits Of Lentils
Full of protein, vitamins and significantly lower amounts of unhealthy fat.
Lentils are highly nutritious. Loaded with essential macronutrients, vitamins and minerals, these legumes can help you meet a number of your daily nutrition needs. In fact, the CNN.com health library recommends replacing red meat in your diet with lentils because they have ample protein content and significantly lower amounts of unhealthy fat.
Lentils are perhaps most beneficial because of their complex carbohydrate content. A 1 cup serving of boiled lentils contains about 40 g carbohydrates, or about 18 percent of the minimum 225 g needed by most adults. Similarly, a 1 cup serving of lentils contains a whopping 16 g dietary fiber. Fiber's positive effects on cardiovascular and digestive health make this carbohydrate highly important to the diet, and the fiber content in lentils can significantly help achieve the recommended 38 and 26 g needed by male and female adults, respectively.
A 1 cup serving of boiled lentils contains nearly 18 g protein. Protein plays a significant role in the diet, helping to build new tissue and repairing damaged tissue. Most adults need from 50 to 175 g of this macronutrient each day. While lentils, lacking certain essential amino acids, are not a complete protein on their own, when paired with rice and other grains they provide a biologically complete source of protein.
Lentils are low in total fat with only 0.75 g per 1 cup serving. Lentils also contain just a trace of saturated fat with 0.1 g per 1 cup serving, and they are free of cholesterol. This gives them a clear advantage over other high-saturated-fat and high-cholesterol sources of protein such as red meat and dairy. The majority of the fat in lentils is unsaturated. While saturated fat and cholesterol raise serum cholesterol levels and increase the risk of strokes and heart attacks, unsaturated fats help reduce cholesterol levels.
High in Minerals
While lentils contain multiple minerals, a 1 cup serving contains more than 50 percent the daily value for adults for iron, phosphorous and copper and nearly 50 percent the daily value for manganese. Lentils are low in sodium, a mineral that can raise blood pressure when consumed in excess. Minerals are inorganic substances that play vital roles in energy metabolism, healthy bone tissue growth and central nervous system function.
A 1 cup serving of lentils contains over 100 percent the daily value for the B vitamin folate and more than 25 percent of the daily value for the B vitamins thiamin, pantothenic acid, and vitamin B6. The body needs B vitamins to convert nutrients, particularly carbohydrates, into usable energy, to produce red blood cells and to maintain immune system function.