Monday 16 May 2016

Lentils Are The Superfood You've Forgotten About

  • Emily Blatchford
They're basically way better than kale.

Lentils get a pretty bad rap when it comes to superfoods. While they're not as 'trendy' as recent 'it' foods like quinoa and kale (because yes, we live in a world where a type of cabbage can be deemed fashionable) these little pulses aren't to be discounted as 'hippie food' or 'things that only vegans eat'.
Omnivores take note: not only are lentils jam-packed with nutrients, they're ridiculously cheap and convenient to boot. After all, there aren't that many foods you can get from a can that are still really good for you.
"I bet you can guess how I feel about lentils. I'm a massive fan," Sydney Dietitian Lyndi Cohen (aka The Nude Nutritionist) told The Huffington Post Australia.
"You know, we are very quick to call quinoa and kale superfoods but lentils actually take the cake when it comes to nutrition. They are so packed with nutrients and their convenience factor -- I mean the fact you can buy them tinned -- makes them so easy to eat."
"One thing that's great is the variety of nutrients they contain," Cohen continued. "You get both protein and carbohydrates in one foul swoop. Aside from dairy, there aren't really any other foods we can say that about.
"They also provide slow burning, long-lasting energy and are packed with fibre -- both soluble and insoluble fibre -- which helps with your digestive system, keeping us regular.
"That is also going to help us actively lower our cholesterol levels."
Cohen also points out the benefits of lentils when it comes to weight loss and helping to combat heart disease.
"Lentils are a great source of folate and magnesium, and folate is known to help with heart disease," Cohen said. "Magnesium also helps oxygen flow around the body, meaning it helps you utilise your energy."
And... pulse.
"The fact they are so low in calories and release slow burning energy also makes lentils a great food to eat if you are watching your weight," Cohen said.
"They will help you to stay fuller and eat a bit less throughout the day.​"
In terms of how to prepare them, the options are pretty much endless.
"Lentils are extremely versatile when you are cooking with them," Cohen said. "You can add herbs, add spices, lots of different veggies... Not to mention the fact many providers sell easy lentil salads ready-to-go. You can pick them up at your supermarket or healthy takeaway shop.
"Honestly, if I'm having a salad, the kind of thing I will do is open a tin of lentils, drain the liquid out and have half a cup of lentils in my salad. It's such a nice way to keep it healthy and lean while still getting your carbs, protein and fibre."
"Beans, beans, the musical fruit..."
Now, if you're worried eating more lentils will have a somewhat musical effect on your bowels, you can rest easy. Preparing your beans properly will ensure you don't have a tooty experience.
Firstly, soak your beans, preferably overnight. Then make sure to drain and rinse your beans prior to cooking (in other words, you want to get rid of the water they were soaked in).
Cook thoroughly, noting different sized lentils will require different cooking times.
You may also want to add spices that can help aid digestion, such as fennel, cumin or ginger; or add a seaweed such as kombu which can help make beans more digestible as well as adding extra nutrients.

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