Consuming legumes such as lentils during pregnancy can provide you with nutrients such as B vitamins, iron, manganese, and potassium. These nutrients, especially folate, are important for the healthy growth and development of the baby. Lentils can also provide you with good amounts of fibers and proteins and make for a healthy replacement for meat. Making lentils part of your balanced diet can let you reap several benefits through your pregnancy (1) (2).
Read on to know the benefits of lentils during pregnancy and how to incorporate them into your daily balanced diet.
Nutritional Benefits Of Lentils During Pregnancy
The taste, color, and size of lentils vary depending on the place they are derived from. Lentils can be categorized into small grains, lentil beans, and larger grains. In this article, we will be exploring the nutritional benefits of lentils for a healthy pregnancy:
- 1 cup of lentils contains around 920mcg of folate, which aids in the development of new cells. Pregnant women require around 600mcg folic acid every day (3) (4).
- Half a cup of lentils contains around 179 milligrams of folate, which is a B vitamin that aids in the development of new cells. Pregnant women require around 600 milligrams of folic acid every day.
- Lentils are rich in protein, which helps in every stage of pregnancy. Protein helps in the development of muscles in babies (3).
- High potassium content ensures proper blood circulation and can potentially reduce high blood pressure.
- The fiber in lentils helps combat intestinal tract disorders. It controls obesity and also keeps down high cholesterol levels. One cup of lentils contains around 20.5gm fiber (5).
- Constipation is a common problem during pregnancy that can be tackled greatly by taking lentils, which are rich in fiber.
- Many studies suggest lentils play a vital role in improving the biological functions of the brain (6).
- Lentils are rich in iron that helps keep anemia at bay. Each serving may usually offer around nine milligrams /100 grams of iron.
While lentils are rich in nutrients, you need to take care to retain all the vital properties. Here is what you can do:
- Lentils are rich in iron, which helps keep anemia at bay. One cup contains 12.5mg of iron (3).
- The vitamin C in citric fruits help in the absorption of iron (7).
- Avoid drinking tea or coffee with your meal, as this will reduce the absorption of iron.
- You must not exceed the cooking time of lentils to avoid loss of essential nutrients.
- Lentils are a source of protein, but they are not complete proteins meaning they do not contain all the amino acids. To enhance the protein profile of lentils, we can add quinoa, white or brown rice, or carrots. These pairings are normally referred to as complementary proteins.
Lentil Cooking Tips
There are different types of lentils and not just the green ones that you see. Here are some easy cooking tips that might be helpful for you (8):
- Lentils do not require to be soaked before cooking like other pulses.
- Wait for the consistency you want; if you are having them in a salad, make them firm.
- If you are preparing lentil soup during pregnancy, make them softer to relish the taste.
- Add flavors you want in the lentils. Crushed garlic and herbs can alter the taste completely.
- If using canned lentils, rinse them under water for a minute to reduce the sodium content.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Which lentils are best in pregnancy?
Lentils such as red lentils, pigeon peas, and black lentils may be some of the best ones to include in your diet (9).
2. Does boiling lentils remove protein?
Research shows that boiling lentils decreases the quantity of some nutrients, including some proteins (10). However, boiling also removes anti-nutrient factors, making it still a good way to cook lentils.
3. Do lentils cause gas during pregnancy?
Although lentils may cause mild gas, the effect can be reduced by soaking the lentils overnight before eating (11).
Eating lentils during pregnancy can add much-needed protein, B vitamins, iron, folate, potassium, and manganese to your diet. These nutrients help your baby’s proper growth and fetal brain development, ensure blood circulation, and prevent anemia. Lentils also contain fiber that helps relieve constipation. You may choose from the various categories of lentils, such as small grains, lentil beans, or large grains. Combining lentils with rice, vegetables, and herbs can enhance their taste and nutrition quotient. Further, you must not over-cook lentils as it may result in loss of essential nutrients.
- National Information: Lentil.
- Folic Acid for a Healthy Baby.
- Lentils, raw. FDC ID: 172420.
- Folate for pregnant women.
- Got Fiber.
- How to eat with your brain in mind.
- Nutritional and health benefits of citrus fruits.
- How to Cook Lentils.
- Why you must have folic acid before and during pregnancy.
- T.H.Hefnawy (2011); Effect of processing methods on nutritional composition and anti-nutritional factors in lentils (Lens culinaris).
- Gas stinks, but relief is possible.
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