All vegetables are known for their high nutritional content, and lentils are no exception. Lentils are the principal source of protein in the plant world, but that is not all; they are also very rich sources of a variety of nutrients such as fiber, iron, folic acid, and Vitamin B9, which is all very beneficial for the pregnant mother. Naturally, lentils are one of the most recommended foods for pregnant women. However, like all foods, some caution needs to be maintained even while consuming this very essential and staple item during those critical nine months. So, without further ado, let us find out if we can consume lentils during pregnancy.
Lentils contain folic acid, which is one of the principal nutrients needed by the growing baby. Folates help in the healthy development of the spine and the neural system and reduce risks of the baby developing neural tube defects. Pregnant women must consume around 600 mg of folic acid per day, and a half cup of lentils delivers a significant portion: about 179 mg. Besides, one great advantage of folic acid is that it reduces the impact of bad habits; so, if you have an occasional smoke or a drink, the effects will be absorbed by the lentils you have.
Lentils contain a lot of protein, so it is a must have for everyone, especially if you are pregnant and a vegetarian or vegan. This protein will help in keeping your muscles strong and developing the musculature of the baby. Besides, it will, in the long run, help you convalesce easier and faster by accelerating the process of tissue repair after you have delivered your baby.
There are around eight grams of fiber in half a cup of lentils. This fiber will help in keeping your cholesterol levels down. Most importantly, it will fight obesity by improving your metabolism and in turn, your digestion which will also translate to a better processing of foods that will relieve some of the gastrointestinal disorders like acidity and constipation that plague the pregnant woman.
Many pregnant women are prone to becoming anemic, and this can prove disastrous. Lentils are very rich in iron, which increases the hemoglobin count. In order to get the maximum benefit of the iron contained in lentils, you should eat them in combination with citrus fruits such as oranges, clementines, lemons, and tangerines. The vitamin C in citrus fruits helps the body to absorb iron better.
Lentils are best cooked in high pressure and cooked fast. Do not cook them for too long as that will result in loss of essential nutrients. Wash them well, and always go for the unpolished variety as the polished ones contain preservatives, and the process of polishing robs the pulses of many essential nutrients. There are many varieties of lentils available, and each has its own distinct way of cooking. This is an extremely versatile product, so you can basically have them in almost any way you like, except raw of course. They can also be consumed any time of the day, multiple times unless such consumption is prohibited for health reasons.