Saturday, 1 August 2009

Some Facts about Lentils

Lentil ( Lens culinaris) is a pulse (grain legume) crop, grown for its lens shaped seeds. Lens is the Latin word for the Lentil. The size and appearance of lentil varies depending on the variety.

Lentils have been found in Egyptian tombs that date from 2400 BC. It may have been used as an aphrodisiac. They also thought that the lentil enlightened the minds of children, making them more cheerful and studious.

  • Lentil is a protein/calorie crop. Protein content ranges from 22 to 35%, but the nutritional value is low because lentil is deficient in the amino acids methionine and cystine. Adding grains, eggs, nuts, seeds, meat, dairy products, or egg will provide a complete protein. The high protein content in lentils makes them an excellent meat substitute.
  • When using a pressure cooker to cook lentils, add a teaspoon of oil to keep the scum from blocking the safety valve.
  • Salt added to the cooking water will toughen the beans. Add salt once the lentils are completely cooked.
  • Acidic ingredients such as wine or tomatoes can lengthen cooking time. You may wish to add these ingredients after the lentils have become tender.
  • Older lentils will take longer to cook because they have lost more moisture. Do not mix newly-purchased lentils with old ones. They will cook unevenly.
  • Lentils are simple to prepare. Simply sort, removing any debris. Then rinse and boil. There is no need to soak lentils. Depending on the variety and age, cooking time may take anywhere from 10 minutes to 1 hour.
  • Storing lentils is simple. They keep indefinitely in a cool, dry place. After long storage, the color may fade slightly, but the taste will not be noticeably altered.
  • 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 provide cholesterol-lowering soluble fiber, as well as about twice as much iron as other legumes. 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.
  • 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.
  • Sprouting also enhances the digestibility of dried pigeon peas via the reduction of indigestible sugars that would otherwise remain in the cooked dried peas.
  • If lentils are eaten with a food high in vitamin C, like tomatoes or bell peppers, their iron content is absorbed more efficiently by the body.
  • And lentils are higher in most B vitamins and folate, which is especially important for women of childbearing age because folate reduces the risk of birth defects.

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