With a high percentage of nutrients such as protein, fiber and calcium, lentils provide a complete contribution to the body.
Lentils, belonging to the Papillionaceous Legume family, are among the legumes richest in fiber, mineral salts and vitamins , known since ancient times for their high nutritional power. The ancient Romans imported them from Egypt but the first traces of their cultivation date back to 7,000 BC in Mesopotamia.
The particular lens shape of the lentils recalls that of a coin and, not surprisingly, according to legend in ancient Rome it was used to give a “scarsella” or a leather bag containing lentils to wish economic prosperity. They have therefore become a symbol of wealth and on New Year’s Eve they are considered a good omen for the year that is about to begin .
Properties and benefits of lentils
Lentils have always been known as “the meat of the poor” thanks to the high amount of nutrients that characterizes them. In particular, these legumes:
- they represent a good source of protein (around 23g per 100g) and contain a high percentage of carbohydrates (around 51%). Precisely for this reason, they are considered a valid alternative to a meat or egg dish and, if consumed with pasta or rice, they are able to supply the necessary energy to the body;
- they are rich in vitamins and minerals , in particular vitamins A and group B – as well as iron and phosphorus ;
- fight aging and the harmful action of free radicals thanks to the antioxidant properties of flavonoids;
- have a low glycemic index reducing the risk of suffering from diseases such as obesity or diabetes;
- increase the sense of satiety and improve intestinal transit thanks to the contained fibers; they also reduce the absorption of simple sugars and fats and help to lower the cholesterol level ;
- they are suitable for those suffering from celiac disease as they do not contain gluten .
The health benefits, therefore, are really many. Yet, as with other legumes, excessive consumption of lentils can have contraindications . In particular, lentils are not recommended for those suffering from uricemia and gout because of their purine content and can cause irritation of the intestinal walls with swelling and flatulence in subjects predisposed to disorders such as colitis.
Calories and nutritional values of lentils
There are several varieties of lentils; the most valuable is the mountain one, small and dark brown in color. Then there are the skinned red lentils or those that are characterized by a larger size. The nutritional values are the same, they vary only according to whether they are cooked or raw.