|Posted by email@example.com on June 9, 2016 at 8:00 PM|
From peppery green lentils to the creamy red variety, these delicious legumes are very versatile and healthful. They are alkaline forming in the body and so are a fantastic replacement for more acidifying forms of protein, such as meat, eggs and dairy. They also offer all kinds of nutrients your bones crave.
In addition to nourishing bones, lentils offer general health benefits as well, which we’ll take a look at in today’s post. And you’ll also find a creative, delicious pH-balanced lentil recipe that’s family-friendly and ready in minutes.
Let’s get right to it, beginning with some fascinating facts about lentils.
The History of Lentils
Lentils are the seeds of a plant called Lens ensculenta. Each pod contains one or two lens-shaped lentil seeds, and there are many varieties, each classified by their size. They come in quite a variety of colors, including brown, green, red, orange, and yellow. Sometimes they are whole and sometimes split in half. The green and brown lentils maintain their firmness and shape with cooking, whereas the other colors tend to cook into a porridge-like consistency.
Humans have been eating lentils for thousands of years. In fact, archeologists have found lentil seeds in the Middle East dating back 8,000 years. Lentils were often consumed with wheat and barley, two other grains that originated in that area.
Sometime before the first century A.D., lentils were brought to India and are now closely associated with Indian culture, where they form the basis of dal, a dish flavored with spices like turmeric, coriander, and cumin.
Lentils’ Nutritional Profile
One of the primary ways in which lentils are good for bones is through their nutrient content. Many of these nutrients are essential for bone health.
- Folate is also known as B9, and it is a moiety in the body’s biological processes that convert bone-weakening homocysteine into harmless amino acids. Lentils contain about 358mcg of folate, or 90% of your daily needs, per cup.
- Potassium is a very important electrolyte that, among other roles in muscle and nerve function, is essential for balancing sodium intake. Lentils contain almost 731mg of potassium per cup.
- Fiber is high in lentils – nearly 16 grams per cup. Fiber helps keep your digestion regular and absorbs toxins in order to eliminate them from your body. Additionally, fiber aids in liver health by preventing toxin-containing bile from reentering the bloodstream during the latter part of digestion.
- Copper, Manganese, and Zinc are found in lentils, .50mg, 1mg, and 2.51mg per cup, respectively. These are included together because this essential trio helps form the ever-important superoxide dismutase antioxidant, which protects your bones from oxidative damage.
- B Vitamins: B1 (thiamin), B5 (pantothenic acid), and B6 (pyroxidine). Lentils have around 1/3 of a milligram per cup of B1, 1.26mg of B5, and a little over 1/3mg of B6.
- Protein is important for building bone. It helps stabilize blood sugar (more on that in a moment) and is required for muscle building. In turn, strong muscles stimulate bone to strengthen when you exercise. Lentils provide nearly 18mg of protein per cup.
Beyond Vitamins And Minerals: More Health Benefits Of Lentils
Lentils provide some remarkable, healthful benefits in addition to bone-building nutrients. Here are some of the ways these legumes boost your health.
Lower Blood Sugar
Lentils’ high fiber content means they are digested slowly, helping you feel fuller longer and keeping blood glucose levels stable. High blood sugar is quite damaging to your bones, depleting your body of essential minerals like magnesium and calcium, and promoting the formation of Advanced Glycation End products (AGEs), which destroy collagen. In addition, high blood sugar produces cravings for acidifying, sugary foods, which keeps the sugar-damage cycle going.
Lentils help stave off cravings as I mentioned above, and they produce a feeling of fullness that lasts a long time thanks to their fiber and protein content. Also, they are nearly fat-free and very low-calorie, and that’s pretty remarkable for a food that leaves you feeling very satiated.
Lentils contain iron, a component of hemoglobin that transports oxygen to your cells. Along with anemia, an iron deficiency leads to unusual fatigue, weakness, and irritability.
How Can You Get More Lentils In Your Diet?
There’s more to lentils than just cooking them and eating them plain (although they can be delicious prepared that way). They can be added to soups and stews, and made into healthful dips. Lentils also make an excellent base for veggie burgers, lentil loaves, as a meat replacement in dishes like chili con carne, and they mix well with vegetables and whole grains.
The following recipe takes advantage of the meaty texture of green or brown lentils.
Lentil Loaf With Tomato Glaze
- 2 cups uncooked lentils and 4 cups of cooked lentils
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped super-tiny (half cup or so)
- 2 stalks celery, chopped super-tiny (half cup or so)
- 2 chopped carrots super-tiny (half cup or so)
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 1/4 cup tomato paste (or ketchup if none)
- 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley or 2 tablespoons dried parsley
- 1 teaspoon thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons ground flaxseed
- salt and pepper
- 1/2 cup ketchup
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons vinegar
- If using uncooked lentils, boil 2 cups of them in 5 cups of water. Leave them until they are soft.
- Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees.
- Chop the onion, celery and carrot as tiny as possible. I pulse them in the food processor until they’re tiny.
- In a skillet add olive oil to heat and add the vegetables.
- When they are already starting to brown, stir in the garlic. Leave it for about 10 min. They’re ready when the garlic is cooked.
- Add the lentils with the remaining ingredients and cooked vegetables in a large bowl.
- Add salt and pepper.
- Put the mixture into a loaf pan prepared with a piece of parchment paper first. It is better if the paper comes out of the mold, it makes it easier when transferring to a serving platter.
- Press the mixture with a spoon and top it with the glaze. I add, about half of it. (To prepare the glaze, just mix all ingredients in a bowl.)
- Put the lentil loaf in the oven for 30-45 min. basting with remaining glaze until it is browned and feels firm.
Eating Your Way To Better Bone Health
It never ceases to amaze me how various foods have so much to offer for our bones, especially those that are outside of our cultural "norm". Sometimes we need to make a change in order to see a change in our bone health. So give lentils a try in your meals.