French lentils are one of the main three types of lentils that differ in color and have almost the same nutritional value. They are a dark green color, and their taste is similar to that of green peas.
People in Asia began to grow lentils in pre-historic times. These legumes were mentioned in the Bible as a constituent of bread made in ancient Babylonia. Gradually, lentils spread to many countries, including European countries, and Catholics used to eat them during Lent. Nowadays, French lentils are highly appreciated for their nutritional properties and rich flavor.
Health Benefits of French Lentils
The distinguishing feature of French lentils is their very high content of fiber and protein. The latter constitutes about 30% of the whole content of this legume. Additionally, they are a rich source of essential minerals, amino acids, and B-complex vitamins. Due to this composition, French lentils are beneficial for many systems and organs. They provide strong protection against certain serious diseases:
- Regulation of blood sugar levels.
The high content of dietary fiber in French lentils makes them invaluable for people with diabetes, insulin resistance, and hypoglycemia. Soluble fiber helps cope with the problems related to blood sugar levels. By slowing down the decomposition of food and its absorption by the blood, it prevents blood sugar levels from spiking after meals.
- Protection against cardiovascular conditions.
Soluble fiber is also effective in lowering the level of bad cholesterol in the blood, which essentially contributes to heart health. However, the main factors in preventing cardiovascular disorders are the minerals magnesium and potassium that are found in sufficient quantities in French lentils. Magnesium supports the proper work of vessels, relaxing the veins and arteries. This improves the flow of blood, i.e. supplying of all the organs with nutrients and oxygen. Studies connect the deficiency of this mineral to a higher probability of a heart stroke. Potassium plays a vital role in controlling heart rhythm. It also lowers systolic blood pressure.
- Defense against certain types of cancer.
Protection against esophageal and stomach cancer can be provided by French lentils due to their very high content of molybdenum and certain polyphenols with antioxidant properties. Molybdenum, the content of which constitutes 55% of the recommended daily amount per 1 oz, protects cells against harmful effects of oxidative stress as well as other dangerous factors. Studies connect low levels of this mineral in a diet to higher rates of occurrences of these types of cancer.
- Support of digestive health.
The insoluble fiber found in French lentils is a good prebiotic, which is important for the flora of the gut. It lowers susceptibility of the intestine to oxidative stress and plays a great role in detoxifying the digestive system.
- Help in the growth and development of the body.
Protein is the main building material for every element of the body. French lentils offer a powerful supply of this substance that builds, repairs, and maintains tissues and bones as well as the cells of our bodies.
Nutritional Value of French Lentils
1 oz (28g) contains:
- Molybdenum – 24.6mcg (55% of RDA)
- Folate – 59mcg (15% of RDA)
- Copper – 0.08mg (9.3% of RDA)
- Phosphorus – 59.3mg (8.5% of RDA)
- Magnesium – 12mg (3% of RDA)
- Iron – 1.1mg (6% of RDA)
- Potassium – 121mg (4% of RDA)
RDA – Required Daily Amount
How to Buy and Store French Lentils
Lentils are usually sold prepackaged in boxes and bags, or in bulk. Check that there isn’t any sign of moisture damage. Check if they are uniform in size, color, and have no tiny holes made by insects on the surface. When buying in bulk, check that the bins are covered properly.
Although the storage time is not limited for French lentils, it`s better to use them within a year after purchasing. Store them in an airtight container in a cold place. Cooked lentils can be stored in a refrigerator for 4 – 5 days.
Tips on How to Cook French Lentils
French lentils are rather simple to cook as they don’t need soaking because of their small size. They go well with salads and dishes where whole beans are needed, as they preserve their firm texture after cooking. Here are some tips on how to prepare them for using in dishes:
- Spread lentils out in a thin layer to check for dirt, small stones, and damaged beans.
- Rinse thoroughly in a strainer under cold water.
- Soak lentils for 8 – 12 hours if you need to shorten the time of cooking.
- Cook in the proportion of 2 cups of water and 1 cup of lentils, but this proportion can be changed depending on the degree of their dryness.
- Add flavorings such as herbs, garlic, and onions while cooking, but don`t add salt until they are ready.
- Cook French lentils for 35 – 40 minutes.
- Don`t overcook to keep the texture.
French Lentils Vegetarian Recipes
- Dried French green lentils: ½ cup
- Short-grain brown rice: ½ cup
- Cremini mushrooms: 8 ounces (2 cups), roughly chopped
- Red onion: ½ of a small onion, roughly chopped
- Fresh vegan breadcrumbs: 1 ½ cup
- Flaxseed: 1 tablespoon, ground
- Fresh parsley leaves: 2 tablespoons, chopped
- Salt and pepper
- Bring rice to a boil in a saucepan (water should cover the rice by 3”).
Season with salt (1 tablespoon) and leave to simmer for 20 minutes.
- Add lentils and let simmer for about 30 minutes more (or until lentils become tender).
- Mince mushrooms and onion in a food processor.
- Cook mushroom mixture in a pan.
Stir occasionally and cook until mushrooms release most of their water and turn golden.
- Transfer the cooked mix to a bowl.
Stir in the flaxseed and leave to sit for about 5 minutes.
- Mix rice, lentils, the mushroom mix, breadcrumbs, and parsley.
Stir vigorously until the mixture clumps together nicely.
- Form small neat meatballs and put them in the fridge to chill (no less than 1 hour, preferably overnight).
- Cook meatballs with oil in a skillet.
Turn them frequently to ensure they are browned all over.
- Serve hot with pasta and sauce.
Cold Vegetarian French Lentil Salad
- French green lentils: 1 cup, rinsed
- Celery: 3 stalks, diced
- Fennel bulb: 1/3 cup, diced
- Cucumber: 1 cup, diced
- White onion: ½ cup, diced
- Frozen corn: ½ cup, thawed
- Olive oil: 3 tablespoons
- Bay leaf: 1 leaf
- Red wine vinegar: 2 tablespoons
- Garlic: 2 cloves, minced
- Dijon mustard: 2 teaspoons
- Dried dill: ½ teaspoon
- Bring lentils and the bay leaf to a boil in a pan.
Leave to simmer for 20 minutes. Then, drain and remove the bay leaf and let the lentils cool.
- Whisk together the liquid ingredients and spices.
- Mix all the ingredients and season with salt.
- Serve cold.