Lentils (Lens culinaris) is a dry pulse, or legume, that is included in a variety of dishes. This legume is more commonly noted in certain foods, such as vegetarian, Italian, Mediterranean, and Middle Eastern cuisine. While they don’t particularly have a strong flavor, they make up for it in their nutrient content. Lentils are high in protein, fiber, and some minerals and are free of fat and cholesterol – the perfect combination of characteristics for a food to include in your cholesterol-lowering diet.
There are many opportunities to include lentils in your healthy diet and they are not that difficult to prepare.
Lentils for Breakfast
What better way to start your day than with a meal packed full of nutrients? Lentils can provide you with just that. Instead of relying on the healthy tried-and-true oatmeal, boring cereal, or the quick egg, add some lentils to your traditional breakfast foods. When preparing your lentils for breakfast, feel free to add fruit or spices, such as cinnamon, to your meal – but keep your other foods, such as bacon, whole milk, table sugar and butter to a minimum. Adding these items will increase the calorie content of your breakfast.
Add Lentils to Soups and Salads
Although lentils are most commonly noted in soups and stews to make them more filling, they can be paired with practically any food. To keep your soup heart-healthy, make sure that you use vegetable broth or a low-fat chicken broth as your base.
Making a base out of heavy creams or cheese can add additional fat and calories to the dish. Feel free to liberally add vegetables to your soup or salad. In addition to veggies, lentils can be grouped with a variety of beans, other whole grains (such as rice or barley), spices and even fruit to create a delicious meal.
Lentils will soak up the flavor of foods that you add to the dish, giving you a flavorful soup or salad that could be as filling as the main course.
Add Some Lentils on the Side
Lentils can also make delicious side dishes, often cooked along with vegetables or in spices. When you are preparing these tasty accompaniments, do not hesitate to add in as many vegetables, whole grains, or spices as possible. Spices – which are fat-free and cholesterol-free - will add a little flavor to the dish that the lentils will soak up. Make sure to limit the addition of creams and cheeses to your sides – since this, too, can add cholesterol and fat to your diet. If you need to add dairy products to your meal, you should select low-fat varieties of these products.
Including Lentils in Your Main Course
This small legume can even act as a main course – whether you are wanting to prepare something light