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What's so great about lentils

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  • What's so great about lentils

    Legumes or Pulses are the edible seed of certain leguminous plants like chickpeas, beans, lentils, peas and split peas. Leguminous plants provide a valuable source of protein for people and they fix the atmospheric nitrogen in the soil, which makes them important for the environment. Beans and Lentils are very low in fat, high in fiber and are frequently referred to as a wonder food. Dried legumes and pulses are classified into three groups: beans, peas and lentils. They are eaten either whole or unhulled (with the skin still intact) or split in half with or without their skins.

  • #2
    Re: What's so great about lentils

    Dried peas, beans, lentils and chickpeas are low in fat and good sources of protein, starch, fiber, iron, calcium and minerals.

    Insoluble Fiber:
    Insoluble fiber is found in peas, beans and lentils, wheat bran, vegetables, fruits, whole grains and breads. Insoluble fiber speeds up the passage of food through the intestine and helps in improving regularity. Insoluble fiber is believed to have a role in the prevention of colon cancer. Lentils contain mostly insoluble fiber, while beans and peas contain both soluble and insoluble fiber.

    Soluble Fiber:
    Found in beans, peas, chickpeas, oat bran, fruits and lentils. Soluble fiber stays as a gel inside the digestive system and is thought to reduce cholesterol levels in the blood and delay entry of sugar into the blood stream.

    Folic Acid:
    Beans and lentils are rich in the Vitamin B, folic acid. Folic acid is important at the time of conception and after conception by women and low amounts of folic acid could put the fetus at risk of Neural Tube Defects.

    Potassium:
    Pulses are an excellent source of potassium which contributes to a regular heart beat, regulates transfer of nutrients to cells, controls water balance and helps regulate blood pressure.

    B Vitamins:
    Pulses are good sources of niacin, thiamin, panthothenic acid and pyridoxine, necessary for healthy brain and nerve cells, for normal functioning of the skin, nerves and digestive system in the chemical reactions of the amino acids and proteins.

    Protein:
    Pulses are good sources of vegetable protein which must be combined with a complementary protein to become a complete protein containing the nine essential amino acids. Beans and Lentils, when combined with nuts, seeds, rice or grains fulfill the requirement of a complete protein. Protein is required by the body for enzymes, antibodies, transport vehicles, cellular pumps, tendons, ligaments, scars, cores of bone and teeth, filaments of hair, materials of nails and more.

    Tidbit About Lentils:
    Housewives in India add a little minced ginger and a few fresh spinach leaves to their lentils to make them creamy. This was a fascinating discovery from a cooking expert who was kind enough to share this information with me.

    What occurs is, there is a single enzyme in ginger that attacks both muscle fiber and gelatin. This is why ginger is a tenderizer and why it prevents gelatin from setting. It was reasonable to think that ginger could have some effect on the proteins in the lentils. However, the spinach was a question my cooking expert was a bit perplexing. Possibly, she said, some oxalic acid in the spinach reacts with and removes any calcium in the water. Calcium, like sugar, allows fruits and vegetables to remain firmer when cooking because it prevents the pectin glue between the cells from changing to water-soluble pectin. Molasses in Boston Baked Beans contain both calcium and sugar to help them retain their shape even when cooked for days.

    Sound a little like a foreign language to you? Me, too! So in short, try this for yourself. See what you think and how you like the results. Next time you are cooking any kind of dried beans or lentils, throw in a little minced ginger and along with a few fresh spinach leaves.

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    • #3
      Re: What's so great about lentils

      Lentil selection

      Lentils are only available dried. They are not used fresh.

      Select lentils that are dry, firm, clean, and unshriveled. The color of lentils you choose will depend on your usage, but in general, the color should be fairly uniform. Canned lentils are also available, but it's just as easy to cook your own.

      If your recipe calls for a lentil that will retain its shape when done, common brown lentils are the usual choice. Brown lentils still have their seed coat and have not been split. Most red, yellow, and orange lentils tend to disintegrate with long cooking because the hulls have been removed.

      Lentil storage

      Dried lentils have an indefinite shelf-life, yet another reason why our ancestors kept them as a staple food. With age, the color may fade a bit, but the flavor will not noticeably deteriorate. Store lentils in a sealed package or airtight container in a cool, dry place. For best flavor and presentation, use dried lentils within one year.

      Cooked lentils may be refrigerated up to one week in a sealed container. Cooked lentils may also be frozen up to six months. However, they may fall apart when reheated if not handled gently.

      Lentil cooking tips and usage

      • Lentils are a natural in soups and stews and also make a great cold salad.
      • Lentils need no pre-soaking and cook much more quickly than other dried legumes.
      • To cook lentils, simply pick over to remove debris or shriveled lentils, rinse, and drain. Cover with water or broth and boil for 2 to 3 minutes (to aid in digestion). Reduce heat and simmer until tender. Depending on the variety and age, cooking time may take anywhere from 10 minutes to 1 hour.
      • When using a pressure cooker to cook lentils, add a teaspoon of oil to keep the scum from blocking the safety valve.

      • Salt added to the cooking water will toughen the beans.
      Add salt once the lentils are completely cooked.
      • Acidic ingredients such as wine or tomatoes can lengthen cooking time. You may wish to add these ingredients after the lentils have become tender.
      • Lentils should be liberally seasoned.
      • The high protein content in lentils makes them an excellent meat substitute.
      • Older lentils will take longer to cook because they have lost more moisture. Do not mix newly-purchased lentils with old ones. They will cook unevenly.
      • 1 cup dry lentils = 2 to 2-1/2 cups cooked.
      • 1 pound dried lentils = 2-1/4 cups dry.
      • 1 pound dried lentils = 4 servings.
      • 1 pound dried lentils = 5 cups cooked.

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      • #4
        Re: What's so great about lentils

        Thanks AnneZ, some very interesting tips and other info...

        Does anyone know about growing ginger?

        I've always just purchased the root although I've grown other root crops including horseraddish.
        Last edited by Sally Furniss; June 25, 2006, 06:31 AM.

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        • #5
          Growing Ginger

          I have tried by planting a bit from the supermarket that looked liked it wanted to sprout. I started it on the windowsill then moved outside in a free draining soil and they made attractive looking plants but not much ginger. However it is only fair to point out that I live in the north of England (not know as a major ginger producing region).
          One point to note is that some countries irradiate their ginger to prolong shelf life and these are never going to grow.
          Good luck

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          • #6
            Re: What's so great about lentils

            Diet rich in beans, lentils helps control diabetes

            CHICAGO -- A diet rich in nuts, beans and lentils beat a high cereal-fiber diet in controlling symptoms of diabetes and heart disease, Canadian researchers said on Tuesday.

            They said the study was aimed at settling the question of which diet could help diabetics gain better control over their disease, but it could be helpful for others as well. Dr. David Jenkins of St. Michael?s Hospital and the University of Toronto and colleagues studied 210 people with type 2 diabetes randomly selected to try one of two diets for six months. All were also treated with medications to control their blood sugar and had monthly blood tests.

            People on the low-glycemic index diet ate an abundance of beans, peas, lentils, nuts and pasta. People in the high fiber group ate a largely ?brown? diet: whole grain breads and cereals, brown rice, potatoes with skins and whole wheat bread, crackers and cereals. At the end of the six months, people on the low-glycemic diet lost slightly more weight, had significantly better control of their blood sugar and had higher levels of high density lipoprotein or HDL, the so-called good cholesterol.


            http://www.chinapost.com.tw/health/d.../Diet-rich.htm




            Effect of a Low?Glycemic Index or a High?Cereal Fiber Diet on Type 2 Diabetes


            A Randomized Trial

            David J. A. Jenkins, MD; Cyril W. C. Kendall, PhD; Gail McKeown-Eyssen, PhD; Robert G. Josse, MB, BS; Jay Silverberg, MD; Gillian L. Booth, MD; Edward Vidgen, BSc; Andrea R. Josse, MSc; Tri H. Nguyen, MSc; Sorcha Corrigan, BSc; Monica S. Banach, BSc; Sophie Ares, MA, RD, CDE; Sandy Mitchell, BASc, RD; Azadeh Emam, MSc; Livia S. A. Augustin, MSc; Tina L. Parker, BASc, RD; Lawrence A. Leiter, MD

            JAMA. 2008;300(23):2742-2753.

            Context Clinical trials using antihyperglycemic medications to improve glycemic control have not demonstrated the anticipated cardiovascular benefits. Low?glycemic index diets may improve both glycemic control and cardiovascular risk factors for patients with type 2 diabetes but debate over their effectiveness continues due to trial limitations.

            Objective To test the effects of low?glycemic index diets on glycemic control and cardiovascular risk factors in patients with type 2 diabetes.

            Design, Setting, and Participants A randomized, parallel study design at a Canadian university hospital research center of 210 participants with type 2 diabetes treated with antihyperglycemic medications who were recruited by newspaper advertisement and randomly assigned to receive 1 of 2 diet treatments each for 6 months between September 16, 2004, and May 22, 2007.

            Intervention High?cereal fiber or low?glycemic index dietary advice.

            Main Outcome Measures Absolute change in glycated hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), with fasting blood glucose and cardiovascular disease risk factors as secondary measures.

            Results In the intention-to-treat analysis, HbA1c decreased by ?0.18% absolute HbA1c units (95% confidence interval [CI], ?0.29% to ?0.07%) in the high?cereal fiber diet compared with ?0.50% absolute HbA1c units (95% CI, ?0.61% to ?0.39%) in the low?glycemic index diet (P < .001). There was also an increase of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol in the low?glycemic index diet by 1.7 mg/dL (95% CI, 0.8-2.6 mg/dL) compared with a decrease of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol by ?0.2 mg/dL (95% CI, ?0.9 to 0.5 mg/dL) in the high?cereal fiber diet (P = .005). The reduction in dietary glycemic index related positively to the reduction in HbA1c concentration (r = 0.35, P < .001) and negatively to the increase in high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (r = ?0.19, P = .009).

            Conclusion In patients with type 2 diabetes, 6-month treatment with a low?glycemic index diet resulted in moderately lower HbA1c levels compared with a high?cereal fiber diet.

            Trial Registration clinicaltrials.gov identifier: NCT00438698


            Author Affiliations: Clinical Nutrition and Risk Factor Modification Center (Drs Jenkins, Kendall, R. Josse, and Leiter, and Messrs Vidgen and Nguyen, and Mss Corrigan, Banach, Ares, Mitchell, Emam, Augustin, and Parker) and Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism (Drs Jenkins, R. Josse, and Leiter), St Michael's Hospital, Toronto, Ontario; Dalla Lana School of Public Health (Dr McKeown-Eyssen), Department of Nutritional Sciences (Drs Jenkins, Kendall, McKeown-Eyssen, R. Josse, and Leiter, and Messrs Vidgen and Nguyen, and Mss A. Josse, Banach, Emam, and Augustin), and Department of Medicine (Drs Jenkins, R. Josse, Silverberg, Booth, and Leiter), University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario; Sunnybrook and Women's College Health Sciences Center, Toronto, Ontario (Dr Silverberg); and College of Pharmacy and Nutrition, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan (Dr Kendall), Canada.

            http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/short/300/23/2742

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