Today we are going to talk about lentils because lentils deserve a special place in our diet. Lentils are definitely one of the healthiest foods ever. In this article I summarize why.
Lentils are a superior source of protein
Lentils contain more protein than meat. Lentils contain 23-25 g of protein per 100 g. In comparison, meat contains 18-20 g of protein per 100 g. A standard portion of lentils (70-80 g dry weight) therefore contains a considerable portion of your daily protein needs. Do you want to know exactly how much protein you need per day? Please read this article.
Lentils are high in lysine
Lysine is one of the essential amino acids. Essential amino acids cannot be produced by the human body. So, you have to get them through food. Lysine is a so-called “limiting” amino acid. This means it’s only found in small amounts in some food categories (mainly grains in this case). So, if your diet is mainly based on grains (as is the case with most Dutch people because we eat bread all day long and we eat pasta in the evening), you may well develop a structural lysine deficiency.
The main role of lysine is to participate in protein synthesis. Furthermore, lysine is known to be necessary for the growth and development of children. Children’s need for lysine is twice that of adults. In addition, this amino acid promotes the absorption of calcium. Lysine also plays a role in collagen production and tissue repair.
Lentils contain an average of 1700 mg of lysine per 100 g, which is about how much you need per day. Do you want to know more about lysine? Then read this article.
Lentils are a super source of fiber
Lentils contain an average of 15-18 g of fiber per 100 g. For reference: as a woman, you need about 30 g of fiber per day, and as a man – 40 grams. Fibers are indispensable for a healthy diet. On average, in the Netherlands we eat much less fiber than we should. We eat no more than 20 g of fiber per day. Eating lentils more often will definitely help to significantly increase the amount of fiber in our diet.
Lentils contain 0.8-1.0 mg of vitamin B1, also known as thiamine, per 100 g. The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of vitamin B1 is 1 mg per day. With a portion of lentils, you have almost reached your RDA!
The RDA of vitamin B11 (also known as vitamin B9, also called folic acid) is 300-400 mcg/day. Lentils contain about 500 mcg of folic acid per 100 g. A portion of lentils therefore provides approximately 100% RDA for vitamin B11.
Lentils are budget-friendly
Besides all the nutritional values mentioned above, lentils are very budget-friendly. A half kilo package of lentils costs less than three euros and contains about seven servings.
Lentils are sustainable
Lentils are much more sustainable than, for example, meat or most meat substitutes. And even more if they come from your own country or a neighbouring country. By eating lentils more often, you are not only doing something good for yourself, but also for the planet.
How do you prepare lentils?
The most common types of lentils available in Central Europe are green, brown, black, red and yellow lentils. Lentils can be whole or split. Whole lentils with their skins intact will take longer to cook but will hold their shape; split lentils without husks cook very quickly and break down into a puree. These differences in texture determine which recipes they are used in.
Preparing lentils is easy. Always read the instructions on the packaging because the preparation time varies per type. Most lentils are done in 20-30 minutes.
Lentils are an excellent base for thick soups. Mainly red and yellow lentils are well suited for soups.
Lentils are of course also the basis for dhals.
You can also recreate all kinds of traditional meat dishes with lentils, such as Bolognese sauce, meat- balls and burgers.
Cooked whole lentils (black, brown and green) can be used as a basis for warm or cold salads or so-called bowls.