From peppery green lentils to the creamy red variety, these delicious legumes are very versatile and healthful. They are acidifying, but they pair beautifully with alkalizing foods, and they offer all kinds of nutrients your bones crave.
In addition to nourishing bones, lentils offer general health benefits as well, which we’ll take a look at in today’s post. And you’ll also find a creative, delicious pH-balanced lentil recipe that’s family-friendly and ready in minutes.
Let’s get right to it, beginning with some fascinating facts about lentils.
Lentils: A Legume With A History
Lentils are the seeds of a plant called Lens ensculenta. Each pod contains one or two lens-shaped lentil seeds, and there are many varieties, each classified by their size. They come in quite a variety of colors, including brown, green, red, orange, and yellow. Sometimes they are whole and sometimes split in half. The green and brown lentils maintain their firmness and shape with cooking, whereas the other colors tend to cook into a porridge-like consistency.
Humans have been eating lentils for thousands of years. In fact, archeologists have found lentil seeds in the Middle East dating back 8,000 years. Lentils were often consumed with wheat and barley, two other grains that originated in that area. Many will recognize lentils from the Biblical story of Jacob and Esau, and the bowl of lentil stew that Esau traded for his birthright.
Sometime before the first century A.D., lentils were brought to India and are now closely associated with Indian culture, where they form the basis of dal, a dish flavored with spices like turmeric, coriander, and cumin.
Lentils’ Nutritional Profile
One of the primary ways in which lentils are good for bones is through their nutrient content. Many of these nutrients are Foundation Supplements on the Osteoporosis Reversal Program.
In one cup (about 200 grams) of cooked lentils, there are almost 150mcg of this mineral, which is 330 percent of the daily value.
Molybdenum may not be mentioned as often as prominent minerals and vitamins like calcium and Vitamin D, but it does play a role in bone health. It interacts with copper to prevent an overabundance of this metal in the body and it’s a cofactor in at least four enzymatic processes. Plus it’s a component of superoxide dismutase, which is a powerfully anti-inflammatory enzyme that targets superoxide, the most prevalent free radical in the body.
The importance of this mineral is highlighted by a disorder that causes its deficiency. In some individuals, a congenital genetic mutation occurs that results in the accumulation of sulfite in tissues and fluids. It’s caused by a deficiency of sulfite oxidase, an enzyme that acts as a catalyst in the conversion of sulfite to sulfate, without which sulfur-containing amino acids cannot be metabolized. Molybdenum acts as a cofactor (MoCo) in this biological process. This condition causes severe abnormalities in the nervous system manifesting as hallucinations, seizures, and other problems.
This is a clear indication of molybdenum’s importance in maintaining nervous system health. But it’s also an important component in bone health, as you’ll read next.
Molybdenum And Your Bones
If you have the Osteoporosis Reversal Program, then you know that superoxide dismutase is one of the antioxidants synthesized in the body. It’s not found in foods, but the components that make it up, such as molybdenum, are present in foods. So your body needs these nutritional building blocks to manufacture its antioxidants.
Clearly, antioxidants are vital to health since your cells rely on antioxidants to prevent oxidative damage, and that includes your bone cells. An entire chapter of the Osteoporosis Reversal Program is devoted to a thorough discussion of antioxidants and the crucial role they play in bone health. So consuming foods high in antioxidants and antioxidant “building blocks” like molybdenum is a significant part of restoring and rejuvenating your bones.
That’s not all lentils have to offer! Let’s continue with some of the other excellent nutrients found in this humble legume.
- Folate* is also known as B9, and it is a moiety in the body’s biological processes that convert bone-weakening homocysteine into harmless amino acids. Lentils contain about 358mcg of folate, or 90% of your daily needs, per cup.
- Potassium is a very important electrolyte that, among other roles in muscle and nerve function, is essential for balancing sodium intake. Lentils contain almost 731mg of potassium per cup.
- Fiber is high in lentils – nearly 16 grams per cup. Fiber helps keep your digestion regular and absorbs toxins in order to eliminate them from your body. Additionally, fiber aids in liver health by preventing toxin-containing bile from reentering the bloodstream during the latter part of digestion.
- Copper*, Manganese*, and Zinc* are found in lentils, .50mg, 1mg, and 2.51mg per cup, respectively. These are included together because this essential trio helps form the ever-important superoxide dismutase discussed above.
- B Vitamins*: B1 (thiamin), B5 (pantothenic acid), and B6 (pyroxidine). Lentils have around 1/3 of a milligram per cup of B1, 1.26mg of B5, and a little over 1/3mg of B6.
- Protein is important for building bone. It helps stabilize blood sugar (more on that in a moment) and is required for muscle building. In turn, strong muscles stimulate bone to strengthen when you exercise. Lentils provide nearly 18mg of protein per cup.
As you can see, lentils are highly nutritious and excellent for bone health. But there’s more to this powerful food.
Beyond Vitamins And Minerals: More Health Benefits Of Lentils
Lentils provide some remarkable, healthful benefits in addition to bone-building nutrients. Here are some of the ways these legumes boost your health.
Lower Blood Sugar
Lentils’ high fiber content means they are digested slowly, helping you feel fuller longer and keeping blood glucose levels stable. High blood sugar is quite damaging to your bones, depleting your body of essential minerals like magnesium and calcium, and promoting the formation of Advanced Glycation End products (AGEs), which destroy collagen. In addition, high blood sugar produces cravings for acidifying, sugary foods, which keeps the sugar-damage cycle going.
Lentils help stave off cravings as I mentioned above, and they produce a feeling of fullness that lasts a long time thanks to their fiber and protein content. Also, they are nearly fat-free and very low-calorie, and that’s pretty remarkable for a food that leaves you feeling very satiated.
Lentils contain iron, a component of hemoglobin that transports oxygen to your cells. Along with anemia, an iron deficiency leads to unusual fatigue, weakness, and irritability.
How Can You Get More Lentils In Your Diet?
There’s more to lentils than just cooking them and eating them plain (although they can be delicious prepared that way). They can be added to soups and stews, and made into healthful dips. Lentils also make an excellent base for veggie burgers, and mix well with vegetables and whole grains.
The following recipe takes advantage of the meaty texture of green or brown lentils.
Bone-Smart Lentil Tacos
Makes 8 tacos
- 1 cup brown or green lentils, cooked
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 garlic clove, chopped
- 2 sweet potatoes, cooked, peeled and cubed
- 2 tomatoes, diced
- 2 carrots, sliced thin
- 2 teaspoons sweet paprika powder (optional)
- Sea salt to taste
- 1 tablespoon oil (for sautéing)
- Lettuce leaves (preferably organic) for wrapping tacos
- Plain yogurt (preferably organic) for topping
- In a large pan, heat the oil and sauté the onion, garlic, carrots, and tomatoes. Add the paprika and salt.
- When ready (I like to keep the carrots a little crunchy, but if you prefer, cook them until soft), mix in the sweet potatoes and lentils. Heat for a few minutes until hot.
- Fill each lettuce taco with lentil mixture and top with a dollop of plain yogurt.
Eating Your Way To Better Bone Health
It never ceases to amaze me how various foods have so much to offer for our bones. The Osteoporosis Reversal Program is nutrition-based, and sharing recipes and information about individual foods is part of the Save Our Bones spirit.
That’s why Bone Appétit, the companion cookbook to the Program, has more than 200 recipes, and it includes a discussion of the Program’s Foundation Foods and Foundation Supplements, including a list of those bone-smart nutrients.
Bone Appétit also lists the alkalizing and acidifying foods, and provides an easy-to-read key so you can easily see which dishes are 100% alkalizing, acidifying, or pH-balanced.
Eat Your Way to Stronger Bones!
Discover over 200 mouth-watering bone healthy recipes for breakfast, smoothies, appetizers, soups, salads, vegetarian dishes, fish, and plenty of main courses and even desserts!
With its digital format, Bone Appétit is easier to navigate than ever. You can quickly search for a food, nutrient, or other topic, and if you find a favorite recipe, you can easily print it.
Enjoy eating for your bones!