Lentils belong to the same family as peas, beans or chickpeas, being a filling, healthy but also very tasty food.
On the lentil plant
Lentil, scientifically called Lens culinaris, is an annual legume, native to the Near East. The lentil plant is short, hairy, with leaves composed of paripennate whose seeds are edible. The name of this plant means lens and derives from the Latin lens, suggesting the rounded and rounded shape of the seeds.
The lentil plant can reach a height of about 40 centimeters and the seeds are found in pods, such as peas and beans.
Unlike peas and beans, lentil seeds are often only two in each pod.
Types of lentils
There are several varieties of lentils – the seeds differ both in color – orange, green, dark green, brown – as well as in size and cooking time.
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It is perhaps the most used in cooking, because it has a fairly short boiling time – around 20-30 minutes. Furthermore, the taste is very pleasant, being neither sweet nor spicy.
Green lentils have a slightly spicy flavor and slow cooking. It is rich in molybdenum, fiber and vitamin B9, but also contains proteins, iron, phosphorus, potassium and vitamin B1.
Red lentils, which are actually more orange, are also a great source of protein. The taste is slightly similar to that of a walnut and is used in various culinary recipes, such as soups and lentil puree. This type of lentils does not require a time of soaking in water before cooking.
It is low in fat but high in protein. Black lentils have the highest iron content and a special flavor. Black lentils are suitable for recipes with rice, for salads, soups and side dishes.
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Lentils: benefits and properties
Lentils are listed as a Nutritional Grade A food due to their high fiber, iron, magnesium, phosphorus and protein content and extremely low fat content.
Although there are many types of lentils and the nutrients they contain can vary from case to case, research shows that 198 grams of cooked lentils have the following nutritional values:
- 230 calories;
- 39.9 grams of carbohydrates;
- 17.9 grams of protein;
- 0.8 grams of fat;
- 16.6 grams of fiber;
- 90% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of vitamin B9 (folic acid);
- 22% of the RDI for vitamin B1 (thiamine);
- 18% of the RDI for vitamin B6;
- 10% of the RDI of vitamin B3 (niacin);
- 13% of the daily requirement of pantothenic acid;
- 49% of the daily manganese requirement;
- 37% of the daily iron requirement;
- 36% of the daily requirement of phosphorus;
- 25% of the daily copper requirement;
- 21% of the daily potassium requirement;
- 18% of the daily magnesium requirement;
- 17% of the daily zinc requirement.
Benefits for the heart – regulates blood pressure
The protein in lentils has the ability to block an enzyme that normally clogs blood vessels, causing blood pressure to rise.
Furthermore, in a study conducted in Iran on a sample of 48 overweight and obese people with type 2 diabetes, it was shown that participants who consumed 60 grams of lentils every day for 8 weeks and improved their cholesterol level ” good “- HDL.
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On the other hand, in the same study, the “bad” cholesterol – LDL – decreased significantly, as did the level of triglycerides.
Cholesterol and triglycerides are two risk factors that often lead to cardiovascular disease, which is why they must be kept under control, especially when the body is also dealing with other problems such as diabetes.
Regulates blood sugar levels
The polyphenols in lentils can play an important role in regulating blood sugar levels. An animal study found that eating lentils helped lower blood sugar levels and that the benefits weren’t solely due to their carbohydrate, protein, or fat content. It appears that polyphenols can improve blood sugar levels
It is also worth remembering that the polyphenols in lentils do not seem to lose their properties after cooking.
Prevents and treats constipation
Lentils are a good source of both soluble and insoluble dietary fiber. Soluble fiber absorbs water from the body and binds to fatty acids, forming a gel-like substance that keeps stool soft.
Insoluble fibers, on the other hand, increase the humidity of the fecal matter, thus favoring intestinal peristalsis and, implicitly, counteracting constipation.
Specialists state that men need 30-38 grams of fiber per day, while women should consume 20-25 grams per day. About 200 grams of lentils provide the body with over 16 grams of fiber.
How to prepare lentils
Boil the lentils in cold water to cook them evenly. Do not salt the boiling water because it hardens. Water ratio, usually 1 to 3. When it boils, cover the pot with a lid and leave it on a low heat, 25 minutes or as long as it takes to boil, depending on the type of lentils chosen. Stir regularly to cook evenly. Season with salt and pepper after the fire has gone out.
Recipes with lentils
Along with soy, lentils are the preferred food option for vegetarians. For the short cooking time, lentils are an excellent alternative to beans, in purees, in soups, in combination with rice, meat and vegetables.
- 125 g of lentils
- 1 liter of chicken soup
- 1 onion 1 carrot
- 1/2 leek
- 1 sprig of celery
- 25 g of butter
- 200 g of bacon
- 1 sprig of cilantro
- 1 sprig of rosemary
- salt and pepper
Preparation: Soak the lentils in water for 4 hours and change the water every hour. Melt the butter in a saucepan and brown the finely chopped onion, grated carrot, finely chopped celery and leek. Leave to rest for 2-3 minutes, add the concentrated soup, lentils and rosemary. Add salt and pepper and, after boiling, lower the heat. Let it boil for 45 minutes. Finely chop the bacon and brown it in a fat-free pan. Serve the lentil soup with the bacon on top and sprinkle with finely chopped cilantro.
400 g green lentils 3 carrots 2 onions 200 g smoked pork breast 1 liter soup 300 ml tomato juice 2 tablespoons oil salt pepper parsley for garnish
Preparation: In a saucepan, boil the finely chopped onion and, after it has softened, add the diced pork breast and round carrots. Sauté a little together, add the lentils, tomato juice and chicken broth. Let it boil for 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. It can be garnished with parsley or not, depending on your taste.
- 1 sprig of thyme
- 1 lemon
- 1 tablespoon of oil
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1 tomato
- 1 onion
- 2 carrots
- 1 leek
- 200 g of lentils
- a few sprigs of parsley
- salt and pepper
How to make lentil soup: Peel and finely chop all the vegetables and then put them in the pot together with the lentils and 1.5 liters of water. Add salt and pepper and boil. After the lentils are boiled, add the crushed garlic, oil, thyme and chopped parsley. Turn off the heat and leave it like this for 10 minutes before bringing the soup to the table accompanied by a quarter of a lemon with which everyone will make their soup sour.
Curiosities about lentils
- Lentils were one of the first plants cultivated by man for food use, since the Neolithic.
- In the Old Testament, Esau renounces Jacob’s birthright in exchange for a bowl of lentil soup.
- For many centuries, lentils have been considered the “meat of the poor”. In Catholic countries, those who could not afford fish when the indulgence was given to fish in Lent ate lentils.
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