How do you like your lentils? On a sandwich? In soup? Or in the trash? I hope you didn’t choose that last option because lentils are full of wholesome nutrition and flavor.
Lentils can be black, red or green. Eating 100g (about ½ cup) of cooked lentils gives your body 9g of protein, 8g of fiber, and a healthy dose of:
- Pantothenic acid
- Folic acid
- Vitamin B6
These nutrients work together to help keep our skin healthy, regulate metabolism, boost energy levels, increase immunity, improve heart health, aid digestion, reduce general inflammation, and combat free radicals.
Lentils have all of these valuable nutrients, but the “packaging” around these nutrients is sometimes difficult for our bodies to digest, and as a result, lentils can cause bloating, gas, and discomfort.
How can we enjoy the benefits of lentils without suffering their unpleasant side-effects?
The secret is to soak the lentils before cooking them and there are two reasons for doing this. They are:
- Soaking softens the lentils – Lentils have a lot of fiber, as well as an external seed coat that tends to be tough. It is all of this fiber that causes the bloating and gas as our bodies process it.
Soaking lentils before cooking them softens the seed coat and fiber which makes it easier digest. You will be happy to know that although it is soft, the fiber is still able to do its job of encouraging motility in the intestines and aiding regularity.
- Soaking reduces antinutrients – Antinutrients are natural compounds, such as trypsin inhibitors, tannins, and lectins, that are found in plants. These compounds earned the title of antinutrients because they make it a little harder for our bodies to absorb specific nutrients, including protein and some vitamins and minerals.
Most antinutrients are found in the skin of lentils, beans and other legumes. Soaking legumes before cooking them reduces the antinutrients in them by 10 – 50% depending on the type of legume and the way that they are soaked.
What is the correct way to soak lentils?
To soak 1 cup of lentils, you should cover them completely with cold water and stir in 1 Tbsp. of apple cider vinegar. This vinegar helps to soften the fiber and decrease antinutrients even more than plain water.
Allow the lentils to soak at least 6 hours but preferably overnight if possible. Once the soak is done, drain off the vinegar water and rinse the lentils well before cooking them.
Now go cook some yummy, nutritious lentils and if you need a good recipe, check out our recipe for Braised Black Lentils.