Red Split Lentils
RED LENTILS – Nutritional Profile
Small but perfectly formed works very well with lentils, especially when you consider their nutrition levels and the impact they have on well being. Lentils have the third highest level of protein of any legume, after hemp and soybeans with 30% of their calories coming from it.
First and foremost on the lentil profile is fibre, as soluble fibre. It is found in plentiful supply in lentils can be found in the intestine where it is a gel like form that is active dealing with cholesterol.
A 100g, dry weight sample of lentils will produce 60g carbohydrate, 31g dietary fibre and only a trace of 1g of fat. In addition, other essential nutrients include 122mg magnesium, 479microg folate, 56mg calcium, 7.54mg iron, 122mg magnesium, 451mg phosphourus, 955 mg potassium and 4.78mg zinc.
Lentils are also an important source of B group vitamins as well as protein. All this is found in a food that has practically no fat content.
RED LENTILS – Health Benefits
Doctors approve of lentils as a foodstuff for many reasons not least of which is the impact they have on cholesterol levels. They are an excellent source of soluble fibre which is converted into a gel like substance that absorbs LDL cholesterol before it can enter the blood and cause cardiovascular illness. Additionally it has the benefit of not trapping the more desirable HDL cholesterol that is responsible for keeping blood vessels flexible and thus keeping blood pressure low.
One study of 16,000 men across 7 counties over a 25 year period across all diet types demonstrated that in all cases, where legumes, including lentils were present the risk of death from heart disease was reduced significantly, by 82%.
A further study of 10,000 Americans showed that people consuming 21g fibre daily had 12% less coronary heart disease and 11% less cardiovascular disease than those consuming 5g fibre daily.
Folate, present in lentils are critical in the methylation cycle which is a metabolic process that is central in regulating energy levels and a lack of folate has also been identified as having a role in the development of depressive disorders.
Levels of magnesium supplied to the blood from lentils are important in maintaining the health of blood vessels. With sufficient present in the blood, blood vessels have been shown to improve the flow of blood, and therefore nutrients throughout the body, by physically relaxing.
Blood sugar disorders such as type 2 diabetes, insulin dependency and glycaemia are also known to benefit from a diet rich in the fibre that lentils provide. The fibre regulates the rate at which carbohydrate is released into the blood stream as blood sugars and minimises the flooding effect caused by eating foods where carbohydrate is refined and more readily released. Current thinking in dietary nutrition considers Glycemic Index (GI) which is the rate at which carbohydrate is released into the bloodstream. Low GI foods such as lentils are regarded as more beneficial.
An American research project compared two groups of people, one fed the standard American Diabetic diet with its 24g fibre daily and a second group with an enhanced level of 50g fibre. The high fibre group had lower levels of blood sugar along with 7% lower levels of cholesterol.
Iron is an integral part of the process of creating haemoglobin which is responsible for transporting blood from the lungs throughout the body. Menstruating women are in particular need of iron supplies
Calcium is widely known to benefit teeth sand bones but it is also important in the health and functioning of nerves and muscle tissue. Phosphorus is important because it works alongside calcium in managing bone density and on its own as energy related component in all cells. Potassium is present in the body in small but vitally important qualities as it is associated with a wide variety of processes including nerve conduction, energy production and the control of heartbeat.
RED LENTILS – Product History
Red lentils are one a large range of lentils, usually identified by their colours and including brown, green, yellow and black. It is thought that they have been part of human diet since Neolithic times and their growth can be traced back to India and Pakistan.
Red lentils are a type of legume which grows in a pod and each seed has two heart shape sides that are joined together in the pod. In the case of red lentils they are frequently sold as split lentils. The small bushy plants are normally about 40cm tall and produce seed pods containing two seeds which split into a further two lentils when processed.
As a species they are remarkably tolerant to poor water availability which is what has made them so prevalent as a food source across such a wide area. They are currently produced in America and Canada as well as France and North West Africa with the most significant crops being produced in Ethiopia, Turkey, Iran, Northern Pakistan and China, southern Australia and India. By far the largest crop, some 238% is produced in Canada with a further 25% originating in India.
Culturally lentils are of importance. They are frequently mentioned in the Hebrew Bible and have been recorded in ancient Iranian customs and they have even assumed a place in the culture of one of the world greatest cuisines, Italian, where they are traditionally eaten on New Year’s Eve to symbolise the hoped for prosperity of the New year.