Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Lentils, I love you.

picture from here
Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2011 Oct;36(5):634-42. Epub 2011 Sep 29.

So I was just browsing pub med during naptime looking for new news on lentils. And, lo and behold, I found some! Apparently lentils and chickpeas have been proven in 1 study (of only 25 males) to reduce your appetite and post prandial blood glucose when compared with an equal caloric serving of mac and cheese.

Research is so weird. Basically they fed people 3 different meals, all of equal calories. 1 chickpeas, 1 lentils and 1 mac and cheese. Then they tested how much pizza the same people ate ~4 hours later. People who ate lentils and chickpeas instead of mac and cheese ate less pizza later and weren't as hungry between the meals. They also had lower blood sugars an hour after eating the lentil/chickpea meal.

Why? I'm thinking fiber - because mac and cheese has some protein and fat. Here's the nutrition breakdown of lentils and chickpeas:

1 cup lentils
Nutrition Facts
Calories 230 (960 kJ)

Total Fat 0.8g 1%
Sat. Fat 0.1g < 1%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 4mg < 1%
Total Carbs. 39.8g 13%
Dietary Fiber 15.6g 63%
Sugars 3.6g
Protein 17.9g
Calcium 37.6mg
Potassium 730.6mg

1 cup chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans)
Nutrition Facts
Calories 269 (1124 kJ)

Total Fat 4.3g 7%
Sat. Fat 0.4g 2%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 11mg < 1%
Total Carbs. 44.9g 15%
Dietary Fiber 12.5g 50%
Sugars 7.9g
Protein 14.5g
Calcium 80.4mg
Potassium 477.2mg

You can see these pulses have quite a bit of protein - (3 oz of chicken has about 26 g protein, and is a better source of protein actually). But they've got a TON of fiber - (1 cup of oatmeal has 4 grams, 1 cup of raspberries has 8 grams). Most people need 25-35 grams per day. Old and/or constipated people should aim for the 35 mark.

Although it doesn't take a 4 year degree to tell you why fiber is important (anyone who keeps metamucil in their cupboard can explain it to you) It is interesting to note that there is a lot of research happening with fiber right now. Well, I suppose its less about fiber and more about what what eats it.

Basically fiber serves as food for the good bacteria that live in your gut. Good bacteria ferments the fiber (science term for eats it) and turns it into short chain fatty acids. These acids (butyrate specifically) are the direct fuel source for your colonocytes (cells of the colon) and are thought to protect your colon against disease and possibly cancer. Woot woot for fiber.

Anyways. So Lentils have fiber - and fiber is good for you because it keeps you full and keeps the bacteria in your gut happy. Enough about nutrition science. Here's fun part about lentils. LENTILS ARE YUMMY. Lentils are very FAST and EASY to cook. For example, watch this Mark Bittman movie about how to cook Dal (which is the indian word for lentil dish). Looks easy enough huh? Did him eating it convince you how good it is? Yeah yeah, keep your smart comments to yourself Paul (Richard's dad is a true blue lentil hater).

Lentils are great because you can keep them in your cupboard for months and cook them at anytime without pre-soaking. One of the first recipe's I ever made with lentils was sent to me a few years ago from a foodie friend. I've tried this recipe on kids, teens and many adults. True blue meat crazies miss their ground cow - but most people like the substitution. I like that there is no worry about cross contamination and that I can have this meal when I haven't been to the store for a month because lentil keep FOREVER. I've tried it without onions before and its still good. I've tried it without chicken broth - still good. I've tried it without salsa -NOT still good. Do not make this without salsa (which also keeps in your cupboard at least a year).

I've also fallen in love with this recipe from Mollie Katzen. It's a lentil soup recipe with dried apricots. I usually use RED LENTILS. Just because I'm pretty sure there is something different in them that's good for me that brown lentils don't have. Anna likes this too - which makes me happy.

I love lentils so much sometimes I'll just boil them up and eat them plain. They are also good tossed on a salad as you would kidney beans.

In other countries, lentils are a staple. I've never been there, but I'm pretty sure that in India there are as many types of lentils as there are varieties of cold cereal in the US. My thoughts were verified in this Oregonian article that richard pointed out to me last night. Pretty cool that my thoughts were on the same page as these guys. There's some cool recipes in that article that I want to try.......

Anyways, if you happen to have read this long post I would just like to encourage you to try adding lentils to your diet. They are CHEAP (like 60 cents a pound at winco), EASY + FAST to cook, and yummy. Oh yeah - and they are good for you too. Not only for whats in them - but also for the fact that if you eat them for lunch there is a good chance you'll want less pizza for dinner. ps if you happen to have a good recipe please share!


pbuhler5 said...


Joy Buhler said...

I have a sloppy joe recipe that uses lentils I really like.