Organic French Green Lentils

Lentils, a small but nutritionally mighty member of the legume family, are a very good source of cholesterol-lowering fiber. Not only do lentils help lower cholesterol, they are of special benefit in managing blood-sugar disorders since their high fiber content prevents blood sugar levels from rising rapidly after a meal. But this is far from all lentils have to offer. Lentils also provide good to excellent amounts of seven important minerals, our B-vitamins, and protein—all with virtually no fat. The calorie cost of all this nutrition? Just 230 calories for a whole cup of cooked lentils. This tiny nutritional giant fills you up—not out.

Health Benefits

With almost 8 grams of fiber in a 1/2-cup serving, lentils are high in fiber. Fiber in foods helps suppress appetite, and eating an extra 14 grams of fiber a day may help you decrease your caloric intake by 10 percent, according to a 2001 article in "Nutrition Review." Lentils are a good source of iron, with 3.3 milligrams in a 1/2-cup serving. Lentils are also a good source of folate, containing 179 micrograms in a 1/2-cup serving. Folate is a B vitamin that helps your body make new cells. It is a nutrient especially important for women. Adequate intakes of folate before and during pregnancy help prevent brain and spinal cord birth defects in babies. Women who are not pregnant and men need 400 micrograms of folate a day, and women who are pregnant need 600 micrograms a day. Including lentils in your diet may also help prevent chronic illness. A 2012 study published in the "Archives of Internal Medicine" found that adding 1 cup of legumes like lentils to the diet of people with diabetes improved blood sugar, cholesterol and triglyceride levels and slightly lowered blood pressure.