Lentils are eaten in many countries and are renowned for their high nutritional content. In addition, they are a popular ingredient in many vegan and vegetarian dishes due to their substantial protein content.
However, lentils have one potential downside which is of concern to some people: they may be slightly acidic. This means that consuming large amounts of them could potentially contribute to an overly acidic diet. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the acidity in lentils, as well as its health effects and how to balance it out with an alkaline diet.
What are lentils?
Lentils are an edible legume related to other pulses such as peas, beans and chickpeas. They come in a variety of colors, sizes and shapes. Lentils are often used as a substitute for meat due to their high protein content. They are low in calories, fat free, and a good source of dietary fiber.
When it comes to the acidity or alkalinity of lentils, it is important to note that different types of lentils have different pH levels but overall, they are considered to be alkaline-forming in the body when eaten in moderate amounts.
- Red lentils tend to be slightly acidic
- Green and brown lentils tend to be more alkaline forming.
The exact amount of acidity or alkalinity can depend on the size and age of the lentil as well as how it was prepared or cooked.
Nutritional Content of Lentils
Lentils come from the legume family and are a great source of plant-based protein, complex carbohydrates, and essential minerals and vitamins. Lentils are also low in acidity, making them a great addition to many recipes.
In this section, we will explore the nutritional content of lentils, including their acidity levels.
Lentils are an excellent source of macronutrients, meaning carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. One cup (about 198 grams) of cooked lentils contains 230 calories, 18.9 grams of protein, 16.3 grams of dietary fiber, and only 0.3 gram of fat. Lentils also contain a good amount of starches, which can be broken down into sugar molecules in the body for energy. They supply trace minerals such as iron, potassium and magnesium as well as a considerable amount of vitamins including B vitamins and vitamin C.
Lentils contain a number of important vitamins including folate (vitamin B9), niacin (vitamin B3), vitamin K1 and pantothenic acid (vitamin B5). They are especially high in folate; one cup provides 90% of the daily recommended value. Folate is necessary for DNA synthesis and plays a key role in cell growth and division; it’s particularly important during pregnancy to support fetal development.
Lentils provide various minerals including zinc, iron, magnesium, phosphorus and manganese – critical nutrients needed for healthy bones, blood pressure regulation and nerve function among other essential body processes. One cup provides 6% of an adult’s daily recommended value for iron – 2 mg – making them among the most concentrated plant-based sources available.
Vitamins and Minerals
Lentils are a nutrient-rich legume packed with essential vitamins and minerals. They are especially high in folate, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, zinc, and B vitamins. Additionally, they contain small amounts of calcium and vitamin K. One cup (198 grams) of cooked lentils contains 115 calories and 9.02 grams of protein.
- Vitamin A: 0% DV
- Vitamin C: 2% DV
- Vitamin B2: 13% DV
- Vitamin B3: 16% DV
- Vitamin E: 2% DV
- Folate: 90% DV
- Calcium – 4 %DV
- Iron – 37 %DV
- Magnesium – 36 %DV
- Phosphorus – 51 %DV
- Potassium – 16 %DV
- Zinc – 17 %DV
Effects of Acidic Foods on the Body
Acidic foods cause a change in the body’s pH balance, and this can disrupt normal physiological processes. Consuming excessive amounts of acidic foods can lead to conditions such as heartburn, kidney stones, and weakened bones. Lentils are one type of food that is known to be acidic, although some types of lentils may be less acidic than others.
The most common type of lentil is the black lentil or masoor dal. This variety contains the highest levels of acidity, making it among the most acid-forming foods when consumed. Other types such as red lentils, brown lentils and yellow split peas are considered to contain lower levels of acidity.
When eating lentils that are more acidic than others, it is important to monitor your health closely before adding them into your diet regularly. Acidic foods often have high amounts of oxalic acid which can affect bone and joint health by reducing calcium absorption in the body. Consuming too many acidic foods can also increase your risk for developing kidney stones and other bladder stones and calcium deposits due to their levels of oxalic acids, citric acids, phosphoric acid and sulfuric acid.
Additionally, if you eat a diet consisting of too many acidic foods you may notice changes in your digestion including increased gas production which can lead to uncomfortable bloating throughout the day or heartburn due to an influx in stomach acids attempting to digest what you have eaten. If left long enough this situation could even lead to an erosion in your digestive tract’s lining due to prolonged exposure from these high-acid foods like lentils as well as other fruits and vegetables that are considered naturally acidic.
Before eating any variety of lentil or other food you believe could potentially cause changes withing your body’s pH balance it is wise seek out advice from a healthcare professional for personalized guidance tailored towards your individual dietary needs.
How Acidic are Lentils?
The acidity or alkalinity of a food is measured on the pH scale where 0 is most acidic and 14 is most alkaline. Lentils are generally considered neutral to slightly alkaline, depending on the variety, and have a pH rating of about 6.5-7 when cooked. While lentils are not considered acidic, they contain some acids that may have an adverse effect in the body if consumed in large quantities.
Lentils contain an array of vitamins and minerals, which makes them an excellent source of nutrition. They are roughly 40% carbohydrate since they consist mostly of starch, making them a great choice for people who need to monitor their carbohydrate intake. Additionally, lentils are rich in plant proteins – approximately 25% – as well as soluble fibers like beta-glucans and saponins which may improve nutritional health.
Although lentils technically do not provide much acidity to the body, it is important to remember that certain foods eaten alongside them could result in an increase in overall acidity due to their nutrient content or other dietary factors such as method of cooking or food pairing choices. For example:
- Adding lemon juice or vinegar to lentils can drastically increase the amount of acidity introduced into one’s diet from eating those particular lentil dishes, so be mindful of how you season your meals.
Ways to Reduce the Acidity of Lentils
Lentils can be a nutritious addition to any meal, but they may also have high acidity levels that can cause digestive discomfort. Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to reduce the acidity of lentils before you prepare them.
One way is to use a combination of baking soda and water to soak them. To do this, bring 3 to 4 cups of water to a boil, stir in 1 teaspoon of baking soda and gradually mix in 1 cup of lentils. Let it boil for another five minutes and allow them to sit for about 15 minutes. The baking soda should help neutralize the acidity found in the lentils.
Another option is to use an alkaline solution such as bicarbonate of soda (baking powder) or lemon juice mixed with water. To make the bicarbonate solution, mix one teaspoon into two cups of boiled water and cook the lentils in that mixture for at least 15 minutes before straining off the liquid and serving your meal. The lemon juice solution requires squeezing half a lemon into two cups of boiling water and cooking the lentils directly in it for 15 minutes or more before discarding the liquid.
In addition, you could try various herbs or spices like turmeric, cardamom, ginger or black pepper which are reported to reduce acidity levels when added while cooking your dish. In general, choose ingredients with higher pH levels like kale or spinach instead of ingredients with lower pH values such as tomatoes or garlic if planning on serving acidic foods alongside your meal containing lentils. Finally, limit fried foods and cooking fats as these are known contributors for increasing food’s acidic content; aim for steaming, gentle simmering, or stewing instead when preparing meals with high acidic ingredients like lentils.
In conclusion, lentils are generally not considered to be acidic. Lentils are considered to have a slightly alkaline effect on the body, due to their balance of minerals and vitamins. However, there could be certain varieties or preparations of lentils that that are acidic or cause an acidic response in the body or digestive system. Therefore, it’s best to know what is being consumed when consuming lentils and keep an eye out for any adverse reactions.
By preparing and consuming lentils in a balanced way, one can enjoy the many health benefits that these legumes offer without having to worry about their acidity levels.