Lentils – A Heart Healthy Food

Lentils image

Lentils – A Heart Healthy Food

By Dawn R. West, Nutrition Student, University of Alabama
Lentils are a member of the legume family and are a low-cost source of protein. They are full of minerals and are an especially good sources of magnesium, calcium, potassium, zinc, and phosphorus. Which have been found to naturally decrease blood pressure naturally. Potassium is known to improve the heart’s ability to (pump blood to your entire body).
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), increased fiber intake can reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, or “bad” cholesterol levels, beyond what can be achieved by a diet low in saturated and trans fats alone.  For heart health, lentils can also lower your risk of heart disease by reducing serum cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and are
Also high in fiber and are considered a soluble type of fiber which is important in lowering cholesterol levels. They can also be used as a low-fat option in place of meat which is higher in saturated fat.
Nutrition Facts Breakdown
One serving of lentils, about 1/4 cup dried contains approximately 180 calories, 11 grams of protein, less than 1 gram of fat, 32 grams total carbohydrate, 1 gram of sugar and 19 grams of fiber. For micronutrients; 40 mg calcium, 2.5mg iron, 42 mg magnesium, 105 mg phosphorus, 480 mg potassium and 1.5 mg zinc.  (Source: USDA Food Database)
Need a lentils recipe? You can use this Lentils and Brown Rice recipe as a side dish or as a base for other vegetable recipes.
Lentils and Brown Rice Recipe
3 cups water 
1 ½ low sodium chicken broth
1 cup dried brown or green lentils
1 cup long-grain brown rice
¼ cup fresh parsley chopped
1 bay leaf 
1 to 2 garlic cloves
Season to taste with a salt-free seasoning
Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
Follow bag instructions for rinsing lentils. Next, in medium sauce-pan ad lentils, 2 cups of water, bay leaf and garlic then bring to boil.
Once boiling, lower heat on low setting and cover. Cook for 20 – 30 minutes, or until fully cooked through. Remove from heat and discard bay leaf. Season to taste with salt-free seasoning or use your favorite combination of dry spices – Onion powder, black pepper, chili powder, etc.
Brown rice combine with 1 cup of water, low sodium chicken broth, in medium sauce-pan bring to boil, then lower to simmer and cover.
Simmer until water has evaporated (about 40 minutes). Remove from heat.
Mix cooked lentils and cooked long grain brown rice together, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and add in chopped fresh parsley. 
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