What the Heck is a Lentil?

What is a lentil, really? Ask and most people will say, “Uhhh…. A bean?” This answer is partially true, being that some lentils are actually just split beans with the hull removed, such as chana dal which is a split garbanzo bean. Other lentils, however, are a specific legume, known as a pulse, that grows on a bush.

They are believed to have originated in central Asia, having been consumed since prehistoric times. They are one of the first foods to have ever been cultivated. Lentil seeds dating back 8000 years have been found at archeological sites in the Middle East and have been found in Egyptian tombs.

Lentils are an excellent source of iron, fiber and protein as well as vitamins A and B. Plus, they are off the charts in molybdenum, a key micronutrient needed for nervous system health and protein formation. They are considered a starch since they are mostly carbohydrate and protein with virtually no fat. This means they will keep your belly full and your body energized! Not only do lentils help lower cholesterol, they are very helpful in managing blood-sugar disorders since their high fiber content prevents blood sugar levels from rising rapidly after a meal.

This week, we are using black lentils. According to joybauer.com:

“These grains get their deep, dark hue from high concentrations of anthocyanins, the very same antioxidants found in blue-purple fruits like blueberries, plums, and cherries. Anthocyanins are potent compounds that are currently being investigated for their memory-boosting and cancer-fighting properties. Black beluga lentils, which earned their name because the small, shiny beads resemble caviar, are rich in protein and fiber — like all varieties of lentils.”

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