Not only a symbol of luck and wealth, but lentils are also rich in vitamins, fiber, minerals and other nutrients essential for health. Here are properties, benefits and some contraindications
The name recalls the lens shape. Its history dates back to the prehistoric age. Several archaeological finds show how the lentil was the first legume to be exploited by man for food and even curative purposes. A food considered the “meat of the poor” is very rich in precious substances, all not to be wasted, making it unique, for example, in the fight against anemia.
Beneficial Effects Of Lentils
Not only a symbol of luck and wealth, as popular tradition dictates, lentils are also rich in nutritional properties important for health. The research of nutritionists seems to confirm the many preventive (in particular for colon and stomach cancers) and therapeutic (first of all, the antioxidant function and the ability to reduce “bad” cholesterol) of this type of legumes.
Properties And Benefits Of Lentils
Rich in vegetable proteins, lentils also contain many carbohydrates, fibers, and vitamins, especially A, B1, B2, C, PP, mineral salts such as calcium, potassium and iron and very little fat. Due to the high protein content, lentils are considered a valid alternative to a second course based on meat, fish, eggs or cheese. Also perfect as a first course, to be consumed with pasta and rice: this combination makes it easier to assimilate proteins.
Lentils And Cholesterol
And that’s not all: lentils are among the legumes with the most effective antioxidant action. On the other hand, the high fiber content makes it possible to regulate the activity of the intestine and keep cholesterol under control. Furthermore, the low range of unsaturated fats makes lentils a perfect food for preventing some cardiovascular diseases. Moreover, thanks to the high content of thiamin, lentils help improve memory and concentration.
How To Choose Lentils
Of the numerous varieties of lentils found in the world, Italy, in particular, boasts a valuable production. The seeds, with a flat and rounded shape, can be large or small and, in our country, lentils are grown mainly in Abruzzo, Campania, Lazio and Umbria.
The most common varieties are:
- The green lentil of Altamura
- The lentil of Ustica
- The lentil of Castelluccio is very particular because of its polychrome appearance
- The red lentil, also called Egyptian lentil, very common in the Middle East
- Lentils from Villalba, Fucino, Colfiorito and Mormanno
How To Grow Lentils
Lentils can be grown effectively both in soil and in pots. The plant has good adaptability to the ground and prefers soft and sandy soil, but does not tolerate water stagnation, so make sure you have a good runoff. Furthermore, it needs good fertilization: you can use organic fertilizers such as manure or compost.
Sowing varies according to the geographical position of the crop: in the North, it is usually sown in spring, while in the South in autumn. Plant the plants, making holes about two centimeters deep to insert the seeds. When the first shoots appear, you can proceed to thin out the weaker specimens.
On the other hand, Harvesting takes place when the upper part of the plant has dried up. Then let everything dry in a warm, dry and even dark place. Finally, cyclic maintenance of the plant is necessary: eliminate weeds and other weeds and control the insects and parasites that usually affect legumes.
How To Store Lentils
You can store lentils in an airtight container in a cool, dry and dark place, and they will keep for up to 12 months. Once cooked, however, they should be kept in the refrigerator for a maximum of a few days.
How Many Lentils Can You Eat A Day?
Considering the versatility of lentils and the possibility of using them in different combinations, starting with rice and pasta, we can also abound with this legume. And eat a dose of between 100 and 200 grams a day. Among other things, lentils are well suited to be centrifuged and serve as a smoothie in the case of older adults.
Contraindications Of Lentils
In some people, the consumption of legumes can cause unpleasant effects such as flatulence, bloating and diarrhea. According to research, legumes are responsible for the formation of kidney stones. Therefore, people suffering from stones should not consume them. Finally, like all plant seeds, lentils contain a series of nutrients – the most represented of which is phytic acid – which compromises the absorption of iron and zinc from the digestive tract.