One inquisitive omnivore’s journey towards healthier and more compassionate eating…

(Click here for why I started)

(MEATLESS/VEGAN/VEGETARIAN RECIPE) My first encounter with lentils was back in the fifth grade when I won a contest guessing how many were in a jar. My prize? Lunch with my teacher Ms. Scribner, but I never did get to try the lentils. My loss. Because then it wouldn’t have taken me so long to discover just how delicious, nutritious, and good they are for my heart.

Beans, beans are good for your heart. A new study show eating a daily serving of legumes, like lentils, can lower your cholesterol by 5 percent and in turn lower your risk for heart disease./Photo credit: wikipedia.org
“Beans, beans are good for your heart.” A new study shows eating a daily serving of legumes, like lentils, can reduce your cholesterol level by five percent and in turn lower your risk for heart disease. Photo credit: wikipedia.org

Lentils have a subtle nutty flavor that easily compliments any meal as the main course or a healthy side. They’re satisfyingly filling with only 230 calories per cup and virtually no fat.

And if that’s not enough to sway you, a new study from researchers in Canada shows eating a daily serving (3/4 cup) of dietary pulses or legumes—which include lentils, chickpeas, beans, and peas—may help reduce your levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol and lower your risk for heart disease.

Loaded with protein, fiber, folate, magnesium and iron—lentils are the perfect staple for any heart-healthy diet.

Protein

  • 1 cup of cooked lentils has 18g of protein with less than 1g of fat making them an excellent source of protein for vegetarians, vegans and anyone following a low-fat diet.
  • Studies show substituting lean protein sources like beans for red meat could lower your overall chances of dying from diseases like cancer and heart disease.

Fiber

  • One cup of cooked lentils contains 16g of fiber, 68% of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s recommended daily allowance for a 2,000 calorie per day diet.
  • Lentils contain high levels of soluble fiber that help reduce blood cholesterol, lowering your risk of heart disease and stroke by keeping your arteries clean.
  • Soluble fiber also helps regulate your bowel movements, improving your digestive health.

Iron

  • One cup of lentils provides 37 percent of the amount of iron women need daily and 87 percent for men.
  • Iron helps increase your energy and metabolism by transporting oxygen throughout your body.
  • Iron in foods like lentils is non-heme iron and not absorbed as easily as heme iron from meat. To help increase your plant-based iron intake it’s recommended you eat foods like lentils with a rich source of vitamin C.

Magnesium & Folate

  • Lentils are a great source of folate and magnesium, both extremely beneficial to heart health.
  • Magnesium improves blood flow, oxygen and nutrients throughout the body.
  • Studies show if your diet lacks folate and magnesium then you’re more likely to develop cancer, depression, and heart disease.

Lentil beans are inexpensive and easy to make. Since they don’t require soaking they’re probably the fastest to cook of all the legume family. Simply rinse the lentils, add to water in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Turn down heat and let simmer until tender, usually about 30-45 minutes.

Or for an instant meal or appetizer that’s hearty and delicious, try Trader Joe’s Steamed Lentils. All the works been done. Just heat them in the microwave or if you prefer something cold, try this heart-healthy, vegetarian dip—no cooking required:

This tasty Lentil, Artichoke & Sun-Dried Tomato dip is a heart-healthy, protein-rich dip.
This tasty Lentil, Artichoke & Sun-Dried Tomato dip with pita chips is a heart-healthy, high protein appetizer or meal. The artichoke hearts and sun-dried tomatoes are rich in vitamin C, giving the plant-based food the extra iron boost it needs for a nutritious, meat-free dish. Photo credit: Lisa Singer

Lentil, Artichoke & Sun-Dried Tomato Dip

  • 1 pkg of Trader Joe’s Steamed Lentils
  • 4 oz. julienne sliced sun-dried tomatoes
  • 6 oz. artichoke hearts
  • 3 oz. crumbled feta cheese (vegans can substitute with dairy-free cheese)
  • 2 tbsp balsamic dressing (optional)

Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Serve immediately for a low fat, protein-rich meal (serves 2) or enjoy as a dip with pita chips. Yum!

— Lisa Singer, exclusive to Global Animal

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