With the increasing awareness of the benefits of a plant-based diet, various previously ignored ingredients have come to the limelight now. Lentils are one such entity that has been around for ages. We have always been told to finish our bowl of dal so that we get our dose of proteins. It could be urad dal (black lentil), masoor dal (red lentil), toor dal (yellow lentil), etc. But did you know that apart from being rich in proteins, lentils have a host of other health benefits as well? Among these lentils, red lentil or masoor dal is one of the most widely used lentils in India owing to its ease of use. It is highly nutritious and flavourful thus making it an ideal choice for healthy everyday cooking.
Lentils Benefits and nutrition
This low calorie and high protein superfood is also a great alternative to refined flour which has zero nutrients. Hence companies have developed nutritious gluten-free pasta made of red lentils. So, even when you are enjoying a delicious bowl of pasta, you do not compromise on the health factor. Find below the nutritional facts of red lentil:
- Excellent source of plant-based protein: As previously mentioned, red lentils are a good source of protein. 1 bowl (about 50g) of cooked red lentil contains 12 g of protein which basically translates to 30% of your recommended daily protein intake. Thus making it an awesome source of plant-based protein for vegans and vegetarians.
- Good source of fiber: Red lentils are a very good source of fiber. 1 cup of cooked red lentil contains 15g of fiber which translates to about 45% of your recommended daily fiber intake.
- High in essential minerals: Red lentils are a good source of iron and magnesium.
- Low in calories: Red lentils are perfect for those watching their calorie intake. 1 bowl of cooked dal contains only 168 calories.
- Rich in vitamins: Red lentils serve as a good source of vitamins especially folate which is a type of B vitamin.
Learn about nutritional benefits of lentils
Below are 6 health benefits of red lentil that will convince you to start including them in your diet:
Boosts heart health
Being rich in fibre, magnesium and folate; red lentils help to support a healthy heart. Magnesium improves the flow of blood, oxygen and nutrients throughout the body. Folate helps to prevent damage to artery walls thereby reducing the risk of heart problems. The fibre content in red lentils helps in maintaining healthy cholesterol levels in the body.
Helps in weight management
Red lentils help in effective weight management since they have a low calorific value apart from being rich in fibre and protein. Due to these two nutrients, we tend to feel fuller faster and for a longer period of time thus avoiding the urge to binge on unhealthy snacks in between meals. It also helps us to avoid overeating and eventually helps us to prevent piling on unnecessary weight.
Helps to build immunity
The abundance of essential vitamins, antioxidants and minerals in red lentils helps to build the body’s immune system. Antioxidants also help in destroying free radicals and minimise damage to cells and tissues, thus serving as an anti-ageing agent that promotes healthy skin.
Supports healthy pregnancy
It is beneficial to include red lentils in the diet of pregnant women. This is because, red lentil is a good source of folate, which is highly essential for foetal brain development and to prevent birth defects.
Helps to stabilize blood sugar levels
Red lentils have a low glycemic index and are high in dietary fibre. The combination of these two factors ensures the prevention of sudden blood sugar spikes. Thus supporting stable blood sugar levels for diabetics.
Red lentil provides slow-burning complex carbohydrates that take longer to break down and provide more lasting energy in the body. Apart from this, red lentil is a good source of iron which plays a major role in the transportation of oxygen in blood and energy production. Since Iron deficiency is one of the major causes of tiredness and fatigue, red lentils would make a good addition to the diet especially for menstruating/pregnant women, children and adolescents who are at more risk for iron deficiency.
Now that you know the umpteen benefits of eating red lentils, you must add it to your diet. You can make the traditional masoor dal or try other recipes of red lentils. Eating healthy is the key to a healthy body.
(With inputs from Priya Prakash, a Biotechnologist and Co-Founder of Naturally Yours)
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