Lentils and legumes are a great source of protein and fiber. They also provide antioxidants, folate, and various minerals. According to Dr. Sharon Moalem, in his book The DNA Restart, legumes additionally provide a rich source of isoflavonoids and phytosterols, which nourish your genes. Other studies have shown that legumes help to lower cholesterol, reduce cardiovascular and heart disease, possibly reduce your risk for diabetes, help with weight loss, and even reduce pro-inflammatory markers like C-reactive protein.
That is a lot of good stuff. However, to gain these benefits lentils and legumes must be prepared the right way. Similar to nuts and seeds, lentils and legumes contain “anti-nutrients” or phytochemicals like phytic acid and lectins, which inhibit the absorption of certain minerals, and enzyme inhibitors, which can prevent proper digestion. Soaking and sprouting them before cooking (as shown below) helps to reduce these anti-nutrients. It also helps to enhance the vitamins, minerals, and fiber naturally found in the lentils and legumes.
There are some of you that may not be able to tolerate lentils and legumes even when they are prepared properly. This is because it is the bacteria in your gut that actually digest them. If you have gut issues like gas and gastrointestinal pain, digestive irregularity (diarrhea and/or constipation), small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), or other GI symptoms, you may need to spend time to heal the gut and re-balance your gut bacteria before eating properly prepared lentils and legumes.
Below you will learn how to soak and sprout lentils. The same process can be used for legumes. At a minimum, you need to soak your lentils overnight and rinse well before cooking. You can also purchase pre-sprouted lentils like this one and other legumes like this one, so you can use them at any time.
To learn more about selecting and preparing other healing foods, click here.
Preparing Sprouted Lentils
1 cup lentil of choice
Place lentils in a colander and briefly rinse under running water. Transfer to a medium sized glass bowl and fill with at least 3 cups of purified water. (The lentils should be fully submerged and have room to expand.) Cover top of bowl with cloth and let sit at room temperature and away from direct sunlight for 12 to 24 hours.
When complete, drain lentils in colander, rinse with running water, and let drain. Line tray or cookie sheet with organic cheese cloth (or white cotton dish cloth) and pour the drained lentils on top. Spread out so that the lentils are not more than 2 to 3 deep throughout. (Do not use paper towels since many brands, especially those with recycled paper, contain chemicals.) Set out of the way in a cupboard or pantry shelf.
Once a day, check on the lentils. If they are dry to the touch, moisten a clean towel and set it over the top of the lentils for 5 minutes. Remove and discard towel. (Do not get lentils too wet or it may promote mold growth.)
Depending on the conditions of the area, it should take 2 to 3 days for the lentils to sprout. Once the sprouts are about 1/4 inch long, they are ready to use. You can eat the sprouted lentils raw and even sprinkle them on a salad or sandwich, but it is usually best for your digestive system to cook them before eating.
For a great vegetarian lentil soup recipe, click here.
For an alternate sprouting method using a mason jar, click here.