Lentils have all the advantages to become the main food in the diet of those who live healthy. It is one of the biblical vegetables, mentioned in Holy Scripture along with wheat and turnip, but has been neglected in recent years, despite having particular properties, such as those of creating its own herbicides. The Buzău Vegetable Research Station is working on a project to reintroduce lentils into mass farming.
In the past, lentils were a very popular food for all social classes.
This vegetable was very successful at the court of the Egyptian pharaohs, as the frescoes from the reign of Ramses II indicate. The Assyrians also knew the cultivation of lentils. It was also grown in the famous Hanging Gardens of Babylon, in the 8th century BC. Later, lentil crops spread to ancient Greece, but here it was seen as the food of the poor.
“The origin of lentils is certainly in the Middle East, where still today lentil and lentil soup with rice are some of the main dishes of Muslims. It is not known through which trade routes its seeds arrived from Palestine to the land of the Dacians, but yes knows that it was grown here long before Christ. Barley seeds, sorrel, flax and lentils have been discovered near Neolithic settlements. Lentils were cooked by the Dacians as a low stew, together with meats, but also put in sour soups with whey of milk. That is precisely the specificities of Transylvanian mountain cuisine, a hermetic and well-kept cuisine, which has been preserved intact in a land difficult to reach, not conquered by the Romans and through which not even a Turkish foot has passed. ” (“The garden”, author Dragoş Şerban)
Arguments why lentils shouldn’t be absent from our diet
Among those who have learned about the properties of lentils, most are vegetarians, who place it next to soy in a list of the most beneficial components of their diet. It is one of the easiest legumes to digest. Mixed with rice and vegetables, it makes up a vegetarian menu rich in protein and low in fat and has a high content of dietary fiber.
According to some studies, lentils are not a complete protein, devoid of two amino acids, but they are considered one of the richest protein sources along with soy, beans or peas. Interestingly, however, lentil sprouts are a complete protein, containing all nine amino acids.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, a cup of cooked lentils contains more than 17 grams of protein, while a woman’s daily requirement is 46 grams. Compared to soybeans, lentils are second in terms of protein, with a cup of soybeans cooked with 29 grams of protein and a cup of peas, just 9 grams.
Lentils are also not bad compared to other protein-rich foods: an 85-gram piece of meat has about 21 grams of protein, a 200-gram yogurt has about 11 grams of protein, and a cup of milk has 8 grams. .
It is a rich source of antioxidants, the compounds that protect the body’s cells from the damaging action of free radicals, responsible for the onset of cardiovascular disease, some types of cancer and other diseases linked to aging.
According to nutritionists, lentils are rich in both soluble fiber and above all insoluble fiber, like all legumes. Soluble fibers contribute to the prevention of cardiovascular diseases by normalizing blood cholesterol levels. Soluble fiber can also help better control type 2 diabetes by slowing the assimilation of glucose from food. In turn, the insoluble fibers are effective in fighting constipation, facilitating intestinal transit.
Lentils are also an important source of minerals, including phosphorus, iron, zinc, and magnesium. Phosphorus plays a vital role in maintaining healthy bones and teeth. At the same time, phosphorus contributes to the development and regeneration of tissues and the stabilization of blood pH. In turn, iron is essential for the transport of oxygen in the body and for the formation of red blood cells in the blood. Zinc enters immune reactions and accelerates wound healing. Magnesium enters the enzymatic actions and strengthens the immune system.
In addition to minerals, lentils are also distinguished by their important content of vitamins, especially those of group B (B1, B2, B3, B5, B6 and B9). Among these, vitamin B9, also known as folic acid, plays a leading role in the production of the genetic material of DNA and RNA, in the proper functioning of the nervous system and the immune system. Folic acid is essential for pregnant women, because it helps the healthy development of the fetus.
Although they have been out of the agricultural yearbook for several decades, the plants with suggestive “biblical” names, given their age, will return to reach the gardens of the Romanians
In recent decades, lentils have become increasingly invisible to housewives in Romania, which is why they have been neglected by Romanian vegetable growers, who prefer to grow plants for which there is a demand and a market. Romanians must rediscover the qualities of lentils, because they are the basis of a healthy diet, say the specialists of the Buzău Vegetable Research Station, who are working on a project to revive this species as a mass crop.
“The so-called biblical plants, some of which are also found in the Holy Scriptures, are rare species that have been neglected despite having miraculous properties, such as those of creating their own herbicides or producing them without fertilizers. No longer needing herbicides, making them. on their own, production costs are also reduced, but they are healthier because nitrates and nitrites no longer accumulate in plants, “said Costel Vânătoru, scientific secretary of Buzau plant research on Tuesday.
Researchers have collected dozens of lentil genotypes from around the country, grown only by amateur farmers and gardeners in their backyards, many of them on the verge of extinction, to inventory them and introduce the most productive ones into serial crop.
“These ancient varieties, such as lentils, beans or turnips, are very important for the conservation of biodiversity, in the conditions of climate change and the invasion of the market with improved varieties brought from abroad,” said the scientific secretary of the Buzău Vegetable Station of research.
Tips for the correct preparation of lentils
There are different types of lentils that can be used in various dishes, the most suitable varieties for food are green and red lentils, because they best preserve their shape and properties after boiling. The advantage of lentils over most legumes is that, being smaller, they require less preparation time, between 20 and 30 minutes.
Brown lentils are the most common type, they are harder when boiled and can be used mainly in soups.
Red lentils, the rarest variety, have a slightly sweet taste, turn yellow when cooked and become very soft, making them suitable for various purees.
Green lentils are considered the tastiest, due to their peppery flavor, they take longer to boil and the grains keep their shape, so it is recommended to use them in salads or preparations such as pilaf, stews.
There is also black lentil, which is most used in Indian cooking and has a slight nutty flavor.
Before cooking, the lentils must be carefully selected and washed. It can be left to soak overnight, in a quantity of water three times higher than that of lentils. Floating grains are removed.
To eliminate the flatulence effect that it could produce, it is left to soak for eight hours, after which the water is thrown away and the lentils washed well before being boiled in clean water.
Consumed in salads, mixed with vegetables rich in vitamin C, such as tomatoes, peppers or broccoli, lentils increase their nutritional properties and the iron they contain is absorbed much more easily.
Lentil soup is also extremely easy to make: lentils are boiled along with your favorite vegetables, as with any soup, and towards the end, for added flavor, you can add a little cumin or coriander.
Lentil is not only a food plant but also a medicinal one, it has galactogenic and tonic qualities. It blooms from May to July. The seeds are used for phytotherapeutic purposes.
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