Lentils – Properties and medicinal uses

Botanical name: Lens culinaris Medik.
Other names: Ervum lens L., Lens esculenta Moench.,

Lentils are the seeds of the lentil plant, Lens culinaris Medik., a herbaceous plant of the botanical family Leguminosae. The plant has a fruit containing one or two seeds which are known as lentils.

Properties of lentils

Lentils are highly concentrated in terms of nutrients as it contains only 11.2% of water by weight. Having such a small amount of water makes them supply a remarkable quantity of energy of about 338 Cal/100 g.
Lentils are however deficient in the following nturitents:
» Vitamin C, E, B12 and provitamin A.
» Calcium
» Polyunsaturated fats, this is because they have virtually no fats

For an overview on its nutrient supply, 100 grams of raw lentils provides the following percentages of an adult daily needs for the nutrients below:

» Fiber – (30.5 g), about 125% of the recommended dietary allowance (RDA).
» Proteins – (28.1 g), supplies about 53% of RDA.
» Folates – (433 mg), supplies about 216% of RDA, more than double the amount needed by an adult male.
» Vitamin B1 – (0.475 mg), supplies about 32% of the need for this vitamin.
» Vitamin B6 – (0.535 mg), supplies about 27% of RDA.
» Iron – (9 mg), it supplies about 90% of the need for this mineral.
» Zinc – (3.61 mg), supplies about 24% of RDA.
» Magnesium – (107 mg), supplies about one-third of RDA.
» Potassium – (905 mg), supplies about half of the daily need for this mineral.
» Copper – (0.825), supplies more than half of the daily need for this mineral, about 57%.

Health benefits / medicinal uses of lentils

The highly concentrated and nutritious contents of lentils accounts for its medicinal values and indications. The consumption of lentils is recommended in the following cases:

• Anemia
As seen above, lentils are rich in Iron providing about 9 mg/100 g. This supply is greater than that of meat and eggs.
Additionally, lentils provide nutrients in significant amount that helps in the production of red blood cells such as folates and copper.

Excess cholesterol
Lentils help greatly in the reduction of excess cholesterol. The fiber present in lentils in large amounts help collect cholesterol from other foods, as well as bile acids which are the main materials in the production of cholesterol, and eliminates them through feces. Hence, the consumption of lentils is recommended for those wishing to reduce their blood cholesterol level.

Despite the fact that lentils are rich in carbohydrates, they are still recommended for the diabetics. This is because its glucose is released slowly into the intestine and absorbed into the bloodstream at a slow rate, as a result, do not cause a spike in the blood sugar level. Therefore, the consumptions of lentils is said to be ideal for the diabetics.

• Constipation
The consumption of lentils helps stimulate peristalsis (the movement of the intestine to push feces down the colon) in the intestine. This is due to the presence of fiber in large amounts.

The consumption of lentils by pregnant women is of great benefit. They include:
» Provision of abundant amount of iron to prevent pregnancy-related anemia.
» Supply of folates that helps prevent fetal nervous system malformations.
» Supply of fiber which helps in evacuation.

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