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Lentils

Everyone should know what lentils are, even if you don’t like them. Lentils are edible seed pods that are part of the legume or bean family and are annual plants. They are small, slightly inflated seeds, ranging in size from round, oval to even heart-shaped disks, otherwise known as dal or dahl in India. The lentil plant’s size varies, from 15-40 cm tall with pod sacks to hold the seeds, normally they hold up to 1-3 seeds. The compound leaves are alternate, with quite a few pairs of oblong-linear leaflets about 15 mm long and ending on a spine and usually have 2-4 blue flowers that bloom along the spine but closer to the top. Lentils can also range in colours from reds, greens, browns, purples and yellows. They can also range in size from small to large, but even the larger ones aren’t that big.

Lentils have been a source of sustenance for our ancestors for protein since the prehistoric ages. Thought to have originated from the Near East or Mediterranean area. They are one of the oldest crops known to man and one of the earliest to be domesticated. Lentil artifacts have been found on the banks of the Euphrates river dating back to 8000 B.C.  There is evidence of the Egyptians, Hebrews and Romans having this in their diet as well. Although the earliest dating of the lentils comes from the paleolithic and Mesolithic layers of Franchthi Cave in Greece 13000-9500 years ago. They first cultivated the plant in Southwest Asia 8-10,000 years ago but the evidence is still unclear as to how many times it could’ve been independently domesticated, this helped the plant to become a diploid (self-pollinating).

Fun fact: Depending on location, lentils were either considered a necessity for people struggling with food insecurity or a delicacy for upper-class members. In Greece, this legume was favoured by low-income communities while it was fed to royalty in Egypt.   

So what are the benefits of lentils, considering they weren’t typically used for traditional medicine?

  • Calcium – Helps keep healthy bones and teeth and can also help blood clotting, contracting muscles, regulating heart rhythm and nerve functions
  • Iron – Carries oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body thru your red blood cells, if your not getting enough oxygen you’ll get fatigued often.
  • Potassium – Helps maintain normal fluid levels inside your cells
  • Folate – Helps form DNA and RNA and is involved in your metabolism for protein
  • Fibre – Increases the weight and size of your stool and softens it so it is easier to pass through
  • Magnesium –  This is crucial for supporting muscle/nerve function and energy production
  • Selenium – Helps to make DNA and protects against cell damage and infections
  • Phophorus –  This is needed for the growth, maintenance, and repair of all tissues and cells and the production of DNA and RNA
  • Thiamin (B1) – Helps the body to convert food (carbohydrates) into fuel (glucose) which then the body uses for energy
  • Vitamin B6 – Important for normal brain development and for keeping the nervous system and immune systems healthy
  • Riboflavin – This involves your growth of cells, energy production and the breaking down of fats, steroids and medications
  • Niacin – This is used by your body to turn food into energy. it helps keep your nervous system, digestive system and skin healthy
  • Zinc – This plays a major part in creating DNA, the growth of cells, the building of proteins, healing damaged tissues and supporting a healthy immune system
  • Copper – Your body uses this to carry out important functions: helping you make energy, your connective tissues and the blood vessels
  • Pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) – This also helps turn food into energy

 

Did you know: Lentils have also been mentioned in the bible in the book of Genesis, the story of Esau who gave up his birthright for a bowl of lentils and a loath of bread.

Note: Having lentils the majority of the time, makes it harder for us to break down the fibre and can cause gas and stomach cramping.

Lentils can be rather versatile when it comes to ways to cook them. You can make soups, bake them by themselves or as a meat substitute such as burger patties (vegan), you can use them as fillings as we did in our lentil wraps, and they are also good for a burrito or taco fillings, put them into a salad and you can even make sweets by combining oats and some spices to make healthy cookies and if you combine with a few other sweet things you can make fillings for sweet pies.

Lentils symbolized resurrection in Egyptian religion and were placed in tombs as food for the journey to the afterlife (Cumo 199).

Chemical composition: Lentils contained an average of 28.6% protein, 3.1% ash, 4.4% fibre, 0.7% ether extract, 63.1% total carbohydrate (nitrogen-free extract), 44.3% starch and 4,186 kcal/kg of gross energy. Lentil starch contained 36.1% amylose.

Thank you, we hope you enjoy it!!

Reference link:

https://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/benefits-lentils#091e9c5e81d154e1-1-3

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpls.2021.628439/full

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