[pull_quote_left]Lentils have been part of the human diet since Neolithic times and were one of the first domesticated crops in Mesopotamia. They are a good source of soluble and insoluble fiber that help reduce bad cholesterol and averts rapid increases in blood sugar, which assists with weight management and the prevent of diabetes[/pull_quote_left]

Do ou think that you can only get protein from animal food sources? Well, that is somewhat true when you consider the amount of protein available in such sources. However, the real answer is no, as protein comes from plant sources as well. Plants are just as alive as animals in terms of cellular structure, so they have protein content as well.

Every plant contains either a little bit or in some cases a lot of protein, and legumes are an especially protein-rich plant source. The American Heart Association guidelines for coronary heart disease advise us to incorporate more fiber in our diets in order to protect us from heart and vascular diseases. Since animal fat and animal sources are not the first recommend choice, getting protein and fiber from a source that grants a healthier outcome is much better. And those better choices are legumes! They are full of soluble and insoluble fiber and also protein, just what we are looking for a better health. Moreover, beans are high in minerals and fiber without the saturated fat that is normally found in some animal proteins. Thus, it is not surprising that they are considered among the world’s healthiest food.

Much research has been conducted examining and questioning the health benefits of legumes. A meta-analysis conducted by Australian researchers looked at legumes effects on obesity-related measurements that included waist circumference, body mass index (BMI), calorie intake and satiety. The showed that people who consumed legumes regularly in their diets had a reduced risk of obesity. Therefore, adding legumes to your diet may help you keep fuller longer and help you manage your weight.

When it comes to heart health and weight management, the all-star legume is lentils. Lentils have been a part of the human diet since Neolithic times, and were one of the first domesticated crops in Mesopotamia – as archaeological evidence shows that they were consumed more than 10,000 years ago. Turkey has some of the best land for lentil cultivation, and in terms of volume produced, it is the third-biggest lentil producing country after Canada and India.

The color of lentils varies from brown and black, to yellow and orange. Their seeds require different cooking times according their type, but 100 grams of uncooked lentils provides around 350 calories on average. About 27 percent or their calories come from protein, the third-highest plant protein source after soybeans and hemp. About 10 percent of orange lentils is composed of fiber, whereas green ones are composed of about 30 percent fiber.

Lentils are a good source of soluble and insoluble fiber that helps reduce bad cholesterol. The fiber content not only reduces cholesterol but also prevents rapid increases in your blood sugar, which assists with weight management and in preventing diabetes. They have tremendous amounts of minerals and vitamins as well, including molybdenum, folic acid, magnesium, iron, zinc, potassium and B-vitamins. They are tiny in size but a giant in health benefits.

Soluble fiber in lentils forms a compound in the digestive tract, which acts like a gel that transports cholesterol of your body. Soluble fiber also increases the size of your stools, which prevents constipation as well as aids in the prevention of irritable bowel syndrome and other gastrointestinal conditions.

Research along with new guidelines has shown that eating high fiber foods reduces the risk of heart disease. Lentils do provide the amount of fiber that is necessary for this, but they are also a great source for folic acid and magnesium, which contributes to heart health tremendously. Folic acid reduces the amount of homocysteine in your blood – a compound that has been shown to be a serious risk factor for coronary heart disease. On the other hand, magnesium relaxes the muscles of your cardiovascular system, which aids in alleviating hypertension. Magnesium improves blood flow by vasodilatation, and thus increasing oxygen and nutrient transfer throughout the body. Research has also shown that a lower level of blood magnesium is associated with heart disease; so, don’t wait to order a meal made of lentils.

Fiber and complex carbohydrates found in lentils also aid in increasing energy levels. Complex carbohydrates are digested slowly when compared to simple ones, so the energy they provide lasts longer. They provide steady and slow-burning energy, which will make you feel fuller and allow you to stay active longer. Additionally, the iron content of lentils also aids in energy metabolism as well. Research has shown that the more fiber you consume, the lower levels of both blood sugar and insulin – the hormone that helps blood sugar get enter cells – you will have. As you may have heard, increased blood sugar slowly burns you from the inside and ages you more quickly, so why not go for high fiber and complex carbohydrate diet with legumes for longevity?

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