A short history of lentils
Lentils are consumed since prehistoric times; in the past it has been considered a source of protein for poor people that could not afford meat, just like beans and legumes. Fossil records show that lentils have been the first legumes exploited in the food industry
Their shape resembling a lens - hence the name lentil – is also recalling the shape of a coin and this is the reason why in certain countries like Italy there is a tradition of eating lentils on New Years Eve , as a wish for prosperity , luck and fortune for the year just begun.
Lentils are an excellent source of protein, fiber , iron, magnesium and potassium, and it is estimated that their iron content is far superior than meat , however the absorption of iron and protein is almost reduced of little biological value. The reason for this is the fact that proteins contained in lentils (and legumes in general) are deficient in cysteine and methionine (essential ammyno acids) which decreases assimilation of all amino acids . A great solution to overcome this issue is to combine lentils to cereals (pasta or grains).
100 grams of lentils have approx 332 kcal. Their composition is approx:
51 % carbohydrates
24 % protein
14 % of fibers
1 % fat
Here is a list of the most important chemical components contained in lentils:
Antioxidants: isoflavones, niacin,
Improving memory and concentration: thiamine
Balance energy metabolism and reduce blood triglycerides: vitamin B3
Lentils are particularly suitable for those suffering from anemia, physical and mental fatigue and malnutrition . They are also rich in fiber - therefore facilitate intestinal transit - and antioxidants , which are useful to balance the activity of free radicals. It seems that the lentils are also suitable for diabetics because they slow down the absorption of carbohydrates.
Last but not least , lentils properties seem to stimulate the production of milk and keep it constant over time, therefore are particularly suitable for mothers who are breastfeeding the baby.
Lentils are not recommended for patients with gout and of uremia, because of the high concentration of purines.
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