Are you a vegetarian and looking for a great iron source? You will be amazed to know the amazing benefits of lentils in this article.
A survey says that anemia affects 33% of the world’s population, and about half of the cases are due to iron deficiency. The most Subgroups who are at risk include children (aged 0–5 years) and women of childbearing age, and pregnant women. So, it is very important to take care of yourself especially if you are a woman or have a child under 5 years old. If left untreated, it can cause heart-related problems.
Are lentils high in Iron?
Understanding the importance of Iron
- Helps to boost hemoglobin levels in the body, which is again good for blood circulation
- Reduces fatigue
- Boost the immune system
- Improves Concentration
For vegetarians and vegans, lentils stand out as a remarkable iron-rich food option
Many cultures have relied on it for centuries as a staple food. They are nutrient-dense, high in protein, and packed with vitamins and minerals. For vegetarians and vegans, they can be an excellent source of iron and other essential nutrients.
In this article, we will discuss the nutritional benefits of lentils and why they should be included in a vegetarian or vegan diet. We will also explore the different types available and how to incorporate them into your meals.
Characteristics of Lentils:-
- High in fiber
- High in protein
- Rich in potassium
- Rich in Vitamin B6
- Supports Metabolism
- Low in calories
- High in vitamins and minerals
They are so easy to cook and you can buy a few different varieties and experiment for yourself to find out which ones have a flavor and texture you enjoy such as:-
Types of Lentils:-
There are three main categories: brown, green and red/yellow. Brown lentils are the most common variety – any bag in the grocery store that says “lentils” without any other descriptor is most likely full of brown lentils. Among these, black lentils are the most nutritious variety of lentils, giving the highest amount of protein, and it has high levels of calcium, potassium, and iron.
Half a cup of cooked lentils has about 3.3 milligrams of iron, which is around 20% of what your body needs throughout the day. When you buy them make sure they are nice and plump.
Benefits of Including Lentils in your Diet?
- Heart health: They are a rich source of fiber, folic acid, and potassium that helps in maintaining heart health and reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Iron-rich food: Iron is an essential mineral that plays a vital role in transporting oxygen throughout the body. While plant-based iron (non-heme iron) is not as readily absorbed as iron from animal sources (heme iron), lentils are still a good source of iron for vegetarians. Consuming lentils regularly can help prevent iron deficiency and associated conditions like anemia.
- Pregnancy: They give a lot of folates. Folate is basic for forestalling neural cylinder surrenders in babies.
- Cancer: Lentils likewise give selenium. Selenium may diminish the rates at which tumors develop. So, it reduces the risk of cancer.
- Fighting fatigue: Lack of iron results in tiredness and fatigue. Not getting enough iron in the eating routine can influence how proficiently the body utilizes vitality.
- Digestion: Fiber plays an important role in food digestion and they are also rich in fiber. So, If you are suffering from indigestion you should include lentils in your diet.
- Weight Loss:– It helps in losing belly fat.
Lentils are an incredibly versatile ingredient that can be used to make a variety of delicious and healthy vegetarian dishes. They are high in protein, fiber, and iron, making them an excellent choice for vegan and vegetarian meal plans. So let’s get started!
Tips for Maximizing Iron Intake from Lentils
- Combine with vitamin C-rich foods: Vitamin C enhances the absorption of non-heme iron. Pairing lentils with foods rich in vitamin C, such as citrus fruits, bell peppers, strawberries, or tomatoes, can boost iron absorption. For example, you can add a squeeze of lemon juice to lentil dishes or include a salad with vitamin C-rich vegetables alongside your lentil meal.
- Soak or sprout : Soaking or sprouting lentils before cooking can improve iron absorption. This process reduces anti-nutrients like phytic acid, which can hinder iron absorption. Rinse lentils thoroughly and soak them in water for several hours or overnight before cooking. Sprouting lentils can further enhance their nutrient availability.
- Avoid consuming iron inhibitors: Some substances can inhibit iron absorption. It is advisable to avoid consuming iron inhibitors, such as coffee, tea, and calcium supplements, around mealtimes. These substances can reduce iron absorption when consumed simultaneously with lentils or other iron-rich foods.
- Cook lentils properly: Properly cooking lentils can enhance iron absorption. Make sure to cook lentils thoroughly until they are soft and tender. Avoid overcooking, as excessive heat can reduce nutrient content. Adding a pinch of salt or using vegetable broth for cooking can also improve the taste and nutritional value of lentils.
- Diversify your diet: While lentils are a great source of iron, it’s essential to include a variety of iron-rich foods in your vegetarian diet. Incorporate other legumes, leafy green vegetables (like spinach and kale), nuts, seeds, and fortified plant-based foods (like breakfast cereals) to ensure an adequate iron intake.
Lentils Soup Recipe
Try this delicious and nutritious Lentils Soup recipe to enjoy the benefits of lentils in your diet:
- 1 medium yellow onion
- 1 cup red lentils
- 1 large carrot
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 3-4 celery ribs
- 1 cup water
- 1 ½ tablespoons smoked paprika
- 1 ½ teaspoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Fresh ground black pepper
- Greek yogurt or sour cream for serving
- Cilantro, for serving
1. Finely chop the carrot, onion, and celery. Chop the garlic. Peel the carrots.
2. In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, and celery, and sauté for about 5 to 7 minutes.
3. Stir in the garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Add the water, red lentils, smoked paprika, lemon juice, salt, and fresh ground pepper.
4. Bring to a low simmer, then cover halfway and gently simmer until the lentils become soft for about 8 to 10 minutes. Check if gets cooked and got a soup-like texture.
5. Add salt and a few grinds of black pepper as per your taste. Leftovers can become very thick, so you can add a little water when reheating.
6. While serving, you can add sour cream. It tastes delicious.
It packs well for lunch in a leak-proof container, and it tastes even better the next day.
In order to get maximum benefits, we can also eat lentil salad and soup on a regular basis.
Eating lentils can be a great way for vegetarians to get the iron they need in their diets. They are an excellent source of plant-based protein, fiber, and iron. They are also low in calories and fat, making them a healthy addition to any vegetarian diet.
They can help to improve your overall health and provide numerous benefits, such as reducing cholesterol levels and improving digestive health.
They can help vegetarians maximize their iron intake by providing an easily digestible form of this essential nutrient.
I hope you enjoyed reading this article. Which type of lentils do you prefer to eat? Your comment will be highly appreciated.
Please let me know how this soup turns out for you in the comments. I am always so eager to hear from you.