Lentils are one of the oldest legumes in history and were cultivated as early as 7.000 b.C. in Asia; its plant belongs to the Papilionaceae family and can reach a height of 40 cm. . This legume can not be eaten raw as it contains non-digestible substances that are eliminated by the heat of cooking.
Lentils have sizes, colors and flavors depending on the variety to which they belong and that we can divide into two main groups: the lentils with small seed and large ones. In Italy are well known varieties of Altamura with large seed and that of Castelluccio with small seed, this variety very appreciated as particularly tasty.
The plant has its origins in Mesopotamia in ancient times, so that in the Bible, specifically in Genesis, are mentioned in reference to Jacob and Esau; in the Louvre museum are exposed ancient lentils from the tombs of Egyptian pharaohs.
Lentils: Properties and benefits
Lentils are composed by 10 % of water, by 22,7 % of protein, 13 % fiber, 50 % carbohydrate, 2,60 % ash and 2 % by sugars. These minerals present in lentils: potassium, phosphorus and magnesium , the most abundant which are followed by the calcium, sodium, iron, zinc, copper, manganese and selenium.
On the front of the vitamins lentils contain B vitamins, specifically B1, B2, B3, B4, and B6, vitamins C, k, J, and, in a minimum percentage, E vitamin.
The sugars are divided into fructose, maltose and sucrose.
Benefits and Curative Properties of Lentils
Nowadays this type of legume is recommended by dieticians because, in addition to containing a high percentage of phosphorus and potassium, is very digestible and it not contains fats neither cholesterol; another very important factor is that the lentils do not contain gluten and are therefore to be considered an excellent food for celiac.
Lentils are considered among the legumes containing more antioxidant properties and, together with the high content of isoflavones are a great ally in the prevention of some cancers.
Like all legumes lentils are rich in vegetable protein and therefore represent a viable alternative to animal foods that contain cholesterol instead; can then be consumed as a second plate in place of the meat or fish.
The high content of dietary fiber helps to regulate the activity of the intestine and to control the rate of cholesterol in the blood. Thanks to the fact that the lentils contain very few unsaturated fatty allow to make prevention to some cardiovascular pathologies.
Finally, the intake of lentils, has the ability to slow down the absorption of carbohydrates by the body as coming to the aid of those who suffer from diabetes; indeed sugar from the digestion is absorbed by the body very slowly so to avoid blood sugar spikes.
The name comes from the Latin word "lenticula" which is short for loupe and that inspired from the characteristic shape of this legume.
Lentils, by tradition, are a symbol of luck and wealth typical of the Christmas holidays, and especially the New Year's Eve; eat a plate after the toast to the new year has a meaning of hope in terms of wealth and prosperity.
On some places the tradition and popular belief argue that lentils should be eaten without oil to prevent the money from sliding off.
Currently the lentils are grown a bit all over the world, in Asia, Africa, North America and Turkey, but those of higher quality are being produced in our country that is Italy.
The regions most manufacturers are Puglia, Abruzzo, Lazio and Campania.
This legume is mainly for sale in two forms: the lentils cooked, ready to eat and usually stored in metal cans or glass.
The dried lentils, stored in bags or cardboard boxes that need to be cooked before consumption without needing to be put to soak before.
When you intend to buy cooked lentils you better make sure that the product does not contain preservatives and dyes while for dry it is better to verify that there is not, within the packaging, the presence of parasitic organisms.
The Red Lentils
Red lentils, also known under the name of Egyptian lentil, are widespread in the Middle East where they are normally sold without skin (peeled). This legume is very low in fat and a few in it are called "good fats", known as Omega 3.
The red lentils are also free of cholesterol and for this reason they are a food recommended in the diet of children; red lentils have the particularity to cook quickly and do not require, unlike other legumes, the period of soaking before being cooked. Finally red lentils have the property, due to the absence of the cuticle that covers them, to be very digestible and do not cause annoying fermentations.
Lentils: Properties and benefits
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