Ways to Add Lentils to Your Cholesterol-Lowering Diet

Elena Schweitzer, istockphoto

Lentils (Lens culinaris) is a dry pulse, or legume, that is included in a variety of dishes. This legume is more commonly noted in certain foods, such as vegetarian, Italian, Mediterranean, and Middle Eastern cuisine. While they don’t particularly have a strong flavor, they make up for it in their nutrient content. Lentils are high in protein, fiber, and some minerals and are free of fat and cholesterol – the perfect combination of characteristics for a food to include in your cholesterol-lowering diet.

There are many opportunities to include lentils in your healthy diet and they are not that difficult to prepare.

Lentils for Breakfast

What better way to start your day than with a meal packed full of nutrients? Lentils can provide you with just that. Instead of relying on the healthy tried-and-true oatmeal, boring cereal, or the quick egg, add some lentils to your traditional breakfast foods. When preparing your lentils for breakfast, feel free to add fruit or spices, such as cinnamon, to your meal – but keep your other foods, such as bacon, whole milk, table sugar and butter to a minimum. Adding these items will increase the calorie content of your breakfast.

Lentil Omelets

Add Lentils to Soups and Salads

Although lentils are most commonly noted in soups and stews to make them more filling, they can be paired with practically any food. To keep your soup heart-healthy, make sure that you use vegetable broth or a low fat chicken broth as your base.

Making a base out of heavy creams or cheese can add additional fat and calories to the dish. Feel free to liberally add vegetables to your soup or salad. In addition to veggies, lentils can be grouped with a variety of beans, other whole grains (such as rice or barley), spices and even fruit to create a delicious meal.

Lentils will soak up the flavor of foods that you add to the dish, giving you a flavorful soup or salad that could be as filling as the main course.

Add Some Lentils on the Side

Lentils can also make delicious side dishes, often cooked along with vegetables or in spices. When you are preparing these tasty accompaniments, do not hesitate to add in as many vegetables, whole grains, or spices as possible. Spices – which are fat-free and cholesterol-free - will add a little flavor to the dish that the lentils will soak up. Make sure to limit the addition of creams and cheeses to your sides – since this, too, can add cholesterol and fat to your diet. If you need to add dairy products to your meal, you should select low-fat varieties of these products.

Including Lentils in Your Main Course

This small legume can even act as a main course – whether you are wanting to prepare something light, or a large meal. Their high protein content will not leave you with the munchies a few hours after your meal, and the fiber content will keep your cholesterol levels healthy.

To keep these pulses cholesterol-friendly, make sure that you are avoiding the use of butter during the preparation process. Although you can pair these with another type of lean meat or fish – lentils can often serve as a meat substitute –making them quite useful in vegetarian cuisine. You should also make sure to keep the dairy products to a minimum, or use low fat dairy products if the recipe calls for them.

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