Lentils are to India as meatloaf is to America: the quintessential comfort food. Ranging from yellow and red to deep black, these tiny disc-shaped members of the legume family are eaten in some form at least twice a day in any self-respecting Indian household, says Kavita Mehta, founder of the Web-basedIndianFoods.Co. In fact, India is the world’s biggest producer and consumer of lentils. Known as dal or daal, lentils typically are served at every meal with steamed rice or Roti/Chapati (Indian Bread).
Lentils contain high levels of proteins, including the essential amino acids isoleucine and lysine. Lentils are deficient in two essential amino acids, methionine and cystine. However, sprouted lentils contain sufficient levels of all essential amino acids, including methionine and cystine.]
Lentils are PACKED with nutrients, fiber, complex carbohydrates, and folic acld. Lentils are a low calorie, low fat, and cholesterol free food. They are also inexpensive. During World War lI, Americans were encouraged to eat lentils to help the wartime economy.
Folic Acid is one very important nutrient found in lentils. One cup of cooked lentils provides 90% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA). Lentils provide more folic acid than any other unfortified food.
Lentils are also an important source of iron. Eating lentils with foods rich in Vitamin C, such as tomatoes, green peppers, broccoli, and citrus fruits or juices, helps the body absorb iron more efficiently.
Lentils are also protein rich. They lack only one protein, methionine. Adding grains, eggs, nuts, seeds, meat, dairy products, or egg will provide a complete protein.
Soluble fiber in lentils acts as a scrub brush, cleaning the digestive system. This type of fiber also decreases serum glucose and cholesterol, and decreases insulin requirements for people with diabetes.