Lentils are legumes that originated from India.
They are also known as dal (or daal) and are often served as part of Indian cuisine, and form the basis of a number of delicious dishes.
As an added bonus, Lentils are rich in protein, fiber, iron, folate, magnesium, zinc, copper, manganese, and vitamin B6, and so have plenty of health benefits to offer.
But are they really high in carbs? We took a closer look at the nutritional facts behind lentils, including the truth about their carb content.
Read on to learn more, and discover how to ensure you are enjoying a healthy, balanced diet.
What Are Lentils?
Lentils are small, round seeds that come from the plant Lens culinaris.
These tiny seeds can be found in many different colors, such as red, green, yellow, or brown.
They are one of the oldest cultivated crops in history, dating back to Ancient Egypt.
The most common variety is the French lentil, but there are over 100 other varieties available today.
This makes them a versatile food that can be used for both sweet and savory dishes.
They are usually sold dried, canned, or frozen. However, it is possible to find fresh lentils in some supermarkets.
Nutritional Benefits Of Lentils
As well as being packed full of nutrients, lentils are very low in calories.
A cup of cooked lentils contains just 60 calories, making them a great source of energy when you need a quick pick-me-up.
They are also a good source of dietary fiber, which helps keep your digestive system running smoothly.
One cup of cooked lentils provides 6 grams of fiber, while raw lentils contain 8 grams per serving.
Some of the main nutritional benefits of enjoying lentils include:
They Are High In Fiber
Lentils are known for their high fiber content, and this has been proven by studies.
For example, a study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry showed that people who ate lentils had lower cholesterol levels than those who did not eat lentils.
This may be because lentils are a good source of soluble fiber, which binds to bile acids in the intestine and prevents them from reabsorbing into the bloodstream.
In addition, insoluble fiber helps move waste through the colon, helping prevent constipation.
They Are Rich In Iron
One cup of cooked lentils will provide you with 2.8 mg of iron, which is almost double the amount recommended daily intake.
Iron is essential for maintaining blood cells and carrying oxygen throughout the body.
It is also needed for the production of hemoglobin, which carries oxygen around the body.
It is important to get enough iron each day, as too little can lead to fatigue and tiredness.
They Are Good Sources Of Protein
A cup of cooked lentils supplies 15% of your daily protein needs, and this is more than any other bean or grain.
Protein is made up of amino acids, which help build muscles and repair tissues, and so forms an important element of a healthy diet.
They Are Low In Fat
Cooked lentils have only 1 gram of fat per half cup, compared to 3 grams for an ounce of beef.
However, it is worth noting that they do contain a small amount of saturated fat, so it is still best to limit your consumption if you want to reduce your risk of heart disease.
They Are High In Vitamin K
Vitamin K is an antioxidant vitamin that plays a role in bone health.
It is also necessary for proper clotting of blood, and so is vital for preventing bleeding after surgery.
Vitamin K is present in all types of vegetables, including lentils. However, it is particularly abundant in leafy greens like spinach, kale, and lettuce.
They Are Great For Weight Loss
Lentils are a great way to lose weight without feeling hungry. Studies show that eating lentils instead of meat can help you achieve a healthier weight.
The reason why is simple – lentils are much higher in fiber than red meat, meaning that they fill you up quickly but don’t leave you feeling bloated afterward.
This means that you won’t feel tempted to overeat later on.
They Have Numerous Health Benefits
Research shows that lentils can protect against cancer.
A study published in the journal Nutrition & Cancer found that people who consumed lentils regularly were less likely to develop stomach cancer.
In addition, lentils are rich in antioxidants, which help fight free radicals in the body.
Free radicals cause damage to cell membranes and DNA, leading to diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular problems.
Antioxidants neutralize these harmful substances and keep your body healthy.
Lentils are also a good source of folate, which is essential for building new cells and repairing damaged ones.
Folate is especially important during pregnancy and early childhood when brain development takes place.
What Are Carbohydrates?
Carbohydrates are one of the three main macronutrients (alongside proteins and fats) that make up food. They include sugars, starches, and fibers.
Sugars are naturally occurring carbohydrates that come from fruits, vegetables, and grains. Sugars give foods their sweetness and energy.
Starches are complex carbohydrates that form the basis of many foods. Examples of starches include breads, pasta, and rice.
Fibers are long chains of sugar molecules that occur naturally in plants. Fibers provide bulk to starchy foods and help lower cholesterol levels.
Are Lentils High In Carbohydrates?
So, are lentils high in carbohydrates? The answer is that yes, there are carbs present in lentils – but not in the same way that potatoes are high in carbs.
The carbohydrate content of lentils comes mainly from starch, rather than sugar. This makes them a low-carbohydrate food.
However, because they are very filling, they will still contribute to your total calorie intake.
So, although they aren’t high in carbohydrates, they are still a useful part of any diet and are a great option for those who are looking to cut their carb intake for health reasons.
If you want to eat more nutritious meals, then try adding some lentils into your diet.
You may be surprised at how delicious they taste – and there are plenty of health benefits to enjoy!