Better Nutrition - - HEALTHYDISH -

Lentils are small, disk- shaped legumes that grow on an an­nual bush- like plant na­tive to cen­tral Asia. They’re used through­out the Mediter­ranean re­gion and the Mid­dle East, and they’re es­pe­cially pop­u­lar in In­dia where they’re mixed with spices and cooked to a purée called a dal.

There are at least 50 va­ri­eties of lentils, in ad­di­tion to the brown va­ri­ety most com­mon in the west. The an­cient Greeks used them for mak­ing bread, and the crisp In­dian crack­ers known as pap­padams that are of­ten served with lentils are made from lentil flour.

But lentils’ real claim to fame— and the rea­son they got a “star” in my book, The 150 Health­i­est Foods on Earth— is that they are pos­i­tively loaded with fiber, es­pe­cially sol­u­ble fiber. Sol­u­ble fiber pro­vides food for the good mi­crobes in your gut, and helps con­trol blood sugar by de­lay­ing the emp­ty­ing of the stom­ach and slow­ing the en­try of sugar into the blood­stream. That’s why high- fiber foods such as lentils have such a low glycemic load. Be­cause fiber slows down di­ges­tion, it can help blunt the spikes in blood sugar and in­sulin that can cause you to be hun­gry again an hour af­ter a low- fiber meal. Those blood- sugar spikes can also con­trib­ute to di­a­betes, in­sulin re­sis­tance, and meta­bolic syn­drome, while mak­ing weight loss very dif­fi­cult.

High- fiber di­ets have been con­sis­tently as­so­ci­ated with bet­ter weight man­age­ment, as well as im­proved glu­cose con­trol for both di­a­bet­ics and non- di­a­bet­ics. High- fiber di­ets are also as­so­ci­ated with lower risks for can­cer and heart dis­ease.

In ad­di­tion to whop­ping 16 grams of fiber, a cup of lentils also pro­vides about 18 grams of pro­tein. Lentils are also a good source of at least seven min­er­als.

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