Fit Food Friday; Health Benefits of Lentils

Written by: Helen

Happy Fit Food Friday everyone! So this week I have got lentils on the brain.  I shared some lentil recipes with you earlier in the week (you can see that post here) and now I’m going to tell you why they’re so good for you.

The reason I scoured the internet for lentil recipes for my previous post is that, although I enjoy lentils and know that they’re good for me, I sometimes struggle to think of meals I can use them in.  However, there are a lot of delicious ways you can eat lentils and there will be a couple more recipes at the end of the post.

 

1) Fibre

Lentils are an excellent source of fibre.  Including fibre in our diets is very important as it helps to remove cholesterol from our bodies and aids bowel health, preventing conditions like constipation and diarrhoea.

 

2) Blood Sugar

Fibrous foods have been shown to have a stabilising effect on blood sugar.  This means lentils are a good food to eat to help to keep your blood sugar levels steady.

 

3) Heart Health

There are different reasons why lentils have a positive impact on our heart health.  One reason is the fibre content, as high fibre diets have been linked in studies to less heart disease.  Also the folate and magnesium in lentils helps.  Folate lowers homocysteine levels and homocysteine is a risk factor in heart disease.  Magnesium improves the flow of blood, oxygen and nutrients and low levels are linked with heart disease.

 

4) Iron

Iron is important to our health.  Without it we lack energy.  Lentils are a good source of iron because they don’t contain as much fat or calories as meat.  Iron is particularly important for menstruating, pregnant or lactating women or for growing children and adolescents.

 

5) Protein

Lentils make an excellent source of protein for vegetarians and vegans.  26% of the calories in lentils are attributed to protein.

 

6) Weight Loss

Lentils are great if you are trying to lose weight because they have all the good stuff without the bad stuff.  They are packed with nutrients and so will leave you feeling full.

 

7) B Vitamins

Including lentils regularly in your diet helps with your required intake of B vitamins because lentils are a good source.  B vitamins have many functions in the body, and are needed by our digestive systems and our nervous and immune systems.

 

So there are 7 reasons to make sure you’re eating lentils.  Do you include lentils in your diet?  Check out my previous post for plenty of lentil recipe ideas and here are a few more, just click on the headings:

 

Lentil Curry

Lentil curry

 

Sausage & Lentil Soup

 

Toasted Quinoa, Lentil & Poached Salmon Salad

Toasted quinoa, lentil & poached salmon salad

Thanks for reading 🙂

 

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10 Healthy Lentil Recipes From Around The Web

Written by: Helen

10 Delicious Ways(1)

There are some healthy foods that I am constantly on the lookout for recipe inspiration for.  Lentils are one of those foods.  I enjoy lentils and I include them in my diet, but sometimes I struggle for ideas and use the same recipes.  Just in case you ever find yourself in the same lentil-eating rut, I have scoured the internet for some inspiration and found 10 thoroughly delicious-looking recipes which I have put on my ‘must try’ list.  Just click on the headings and it will take you to the recipes.  And if you have any of your own lentil recipes let me know below.

If you want to know exactly why lentils are good for you keep your eyes peeled for my next Fit Food Friday segment, but, one reason is their nutrient value.  They are a great source of fibre, as well as other important vitamins and minerals, such as folate, iron, manganese, B vitamins and more.

 

1) Warm Red Lentil Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash, Spinach & Goats Cheese from Be Healthy Now

Warm red lentil salad

2) Red Lentil Soup with Spinach & Courgettes from Be Healthy Now

3) Curried Coconut Lentils from Lentil Recipes

 

4) Layered Aubergine Lentil Bake from BBC Good Food

Layered aubergine & lentil bake

5) Baked Potatoes with Spicy Dhal from BBC Good Food

 

6) Lentil & Cashew Nut Roast from All Recipes

Recipe photo: Lentil and cashew nut roast

7) Middle Eastern Lentil Salad from All Recipes

 

8) Chilladas from Delia Online

 

9) Sweet Potato Lentil Spinach Bowl from Good To Know

Sweet potato, Lentil and Spinach bowl

10) Vegan Lentil Burgers from Food Network

Vegan Lentil Burgers

 

Let me know if you try any of these.  Thanks for reading 🙂

10 Simple Steps You Can Take Today For A Healthier Life

Written by: Helen

Healthy living is a marathon not a sprint.  Fad diets may lead to short term weight loss but if you want to keep a healthy weight and stick to a healthy lifestyle, then the key is simple, easy to implement changes.

You can make a couple of changes and let yourself adjust, let them become part of your daily routine, and then make a couple more changes.  I have picked 10 simple steps to leading a healthier life.

 

1) Increase Water Intake

The benefit of keeping your body hydrated can’t be understated.  Water is vital for our bodies to function optimally.  It flushes out toxins, keeps our bowels regular and prevents constipation.  It’s needed by our organs, our muscles, our joints, our brains and it can cause us to snack because we think we’re hungry, when we’re actually thirsty.

 

2) Increase your Fruit and Vegetable Intake

It is important to eat plenty of fruit and veg, aiming for a minimum of 5 a day (preferably with a higher ratio of vegetables than fruit).  These are our best source of antioxidants (see why these are so important here).  They also contain other important nutrients and can make an easy snack.

 

3) Switch to Brown Rice and Wholegrain Pasta

White rice and pasta gives you no nutritional benefit.  It is too processed and so isn’t providing you with fibre or any wholegrain goodness.  By switching from the white stuff to the brown stuff, particularly if you regularly eat pasta or rice, you’ll be making your mealtimes that bit healthier.

 

4) Meat-free Mondays

There was a time when my husband was very anti anti-meat (that makes sense if you read it slowly).  When I first gave him a meat-free meal he complained, but now we do it quite regularly because we realised that meals don’t need to have meat in to be tasty.  Apart from being a nice thing to do for the planet, both for the animals that are killed to become dinner and also in terms of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere during meat production, it is a great way of getting more vegetables into your meal and experimenting with foods and flavours.

 

5) Eat Healthy Fats Regularly

Incorporate foods in your diet that provide you with healthy fats, such as omega-3.  Healthy fats are an important part of any diet.  You can get these fats in various foods including fish (aim for two servings of oily fish a week), avocado and nuts and seeds.

 

6) Look at Ways to Cut Down Sugar

Stop taking it in tea, check the sugar content of some of the foods you buy such as sauces, yoghurt etc. and choose options with lower sugar.  If you choose low-fat versions of foods be particularly careful of the sugar content as sometimes they make up for low fat with high sugar.

 

7) Take Time to Relax

You may not think of this as an important part of a healthy lifestyle but you shouldn’t underestimate the impact stress can have on our health.  Stress can effect many of the systems in our body, including our digestive system so it can be a factor in weight gain.  Mental health is just as important as physical health so find ways to incorporate some relaxation into your day eg. meditation, yoga, tai-chi or make time to read a book, soak in a bath etc.

 

8) Top up Your Gut Bacteria

A balance of ‘good’ gut bacteria is important to keep your digestive system healthy.  Too much of the ‘bad’ bacteria can have implications on various aspects of your life.  Probiotics can be found in special drinks and in natural yoghurt and should be part of a healthy diet.

 

9) Instead of Cutting Foods Out, Think About Adding Foods In

Healthy eating can seem daunting because we think we will have to give up foods we enjoy.  This is why many people embark on strict diets and then quit because that kind of restriction can be too much.  Instead of thinking about the bad stuff you need to remove from your diet, think about good stuff you can include more.  I’ve already mentioned healthy fats and probiotics, but make sure you include plenty of antioxidants so eat more berries, and more dark green vegetables.

 

10) Schedule in Some Exercise

I may have put exercise at number 10 but exercise is, in fact, a crucial part of a healthy lifestyle.  If you are looking for small steps that will take you closer to the lifestyle that you want, then look at your diary and schedule in time to exercise.  It doesn’t have to be anything too daunting either.  You could start off by making time to go for a walk, or you could look at local classes and see if any take your fancy.  I’ve mentioned before that YouTube is a great resource and there are plenty of quick exercise videos that are perfect if you are just getting used to it.  You can find some more advice and some YouTube video suggestions in my article here.

 

Do you have any other simple steps for a healthier lifestyle?  Let me know below.  Thanks for reading 🙂