Why Lentil Soup May Be Better than Chicken Soup8 months ago | Nutrition
By Joy Stephenson-Laws, JD, Founder
As the weather gets cooler, curling up on the couch with a hot bowl of soup sounds so inviting.
And it’s best to stay away from cream based soups, which may have a lot of added fat. Lentil soup, however, is delicious, nutritious and filling enough that it can be the star of your meal.
So Make today a #MeatlessMonday with lentils. Remember, if you go meatless every Monday for a year (52 days total), you may reduce your risk for certain diseases, including cancer, heart disease and more.
Lentils are popular in Mediterranean and Indian cooking and come in a variety of types and colors, including red, green and brown. They are reportedly one of the oldest known sources of food, dating back to more than 9,000 years ago.
They absorb flavor very well, so in addition to soups, lentils are great for stews and curries. You can even make a cold lentil salad for a gluten-free “pasta salad.” Just be mindful of prepackaged lentils, which may have gluten. I recommend that you visit the bulk section of the grocery store and buy natural lentils.
Along with peas and beans, lentils are legumes.
“Although research supports the benefits of legume consumption, only ∼8% of U.S. adults report eating legumes on any given day,” according to the National Institutes for Health (NIH).
Just a serving of lentils a day may help prevent heart disease.
According to a study, eating a serving of legumes (like lentils) may significantly reduce bad cholesterol in the body and, as a result, reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. This is likely due to the high fiber content in lentils (about 15 grams in one cup).
Lentils are cholesterol free and still pack a significant amount of protein (about 18 grams in one cup). Contrary to popular belief, cholesterol is not bad for you. Your body actually needs it to build cells. The problem occurs when you have too much cholesterol. Your body (particularly your liver) makes all the cholesterol you need. Many of us get excess cholesterol from animal foods, like meat and dairy.
Lentils also contain antioxidants that may help prevent atherosclerosis, when plaque builds up in the arteries.
Lentils have fiber.
In general men need about 38 grams of fiber a day, and women need about 25 grams.
Fiber may do a lot for your body, including:
- Aid digestion and relieve constipation. It may even help relieve symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
- Reduce risk of diabetes and help better manage diabetes. Fiber in the intestines may lower the absorption of sugar, which may help blood sugar levels from spiking.
- Reduce risk of cancer, particularly colon.
- Aid with weight management. Fiber makes you feel fuller longer, which may help with weight loss and maintaining a healthy weight.
- Calcium, 38 mg. An adult between 19-50 years of age (male or female) in general should aim to have about 1,000 mg of calcium per day. This mineral is needed to build and maintain strong bones and teeth. Calcium is also needed for clotting of the blood to stop bleeding and for proper functioning of the nerves, muscles and heart. The National Cancer Institute conducted a study that monitored calcium intake in 135,000 men and women. The subjects who had a calcium intake of more than 700 mg per day had a 35-45% reduced risk of cancer of the distal (lower) part of the colon than those who had a calcium intake of 500 mg or less per day.
- Magnesium, 71 mg. This mineral helps regulate blood pressure, contributes to bone metabolism and has antioxidant functions. Magnesium is also great for pain management. Many people use magnesium as a safe alternative to ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Magnesium may even help alleviate leg cramps women may experience during pregnancy.
- Phosphorus, 356 mg. This mineral works with calcium to build strong bones and teeth. It is also needed to help balance and use other vitamins and minerals, including vitamin D, iodine, magnesium and zinc.
- Potassium, 731 mg. There’s a surprising connection with the liver and potassium. Liver injury or infection causes patients to urinate their potassium out. When the liver heals, the potassium levels start to go back up. This has implications for people with chronic liver problems, in terms of both diet as well as use of medications, since very low potassium levels can be more dangerous than the liver problem alone. Potassium may also help keep blood pressure under control and may even help reduce kidney stones and bone loss as you age.
- Folate, 358 mcg. Folate (also called vitamin B9) is a very important nutrient, especially for pregnant women. Folate may also help prevent cancer and heart disease and improve mental health. A study from Harvard Health demonstrated folate may also be useful in treating symptoms of depression.
Remember, healthy eating is one of the best ways we can be proactive about our overall health. Make every meal an opportunity to do something good for your body.
Enjoy your healthy life!
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