Lower Your Blood Pressure with Lentils

LentilsLentils have always been praised as a healthy food option. They are known to be rich in folates, fiber and iron. They have been used to combat constipation and as an anti-anemic food (when combined with vitamin C rich foods such as lemon, tomato, or potatoes which help increase iron absorption). They are also being studied further for their heart health benefits.

A recent study was completed using spontaneously hypertensive rats and observing the differences with a diet rich in lentils. The findings were quite positive, in that a diet rich in lentils helped lower total cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol, blood pressure and atherosclerosis risk in just 4 weeks. Other pulse vegetables were observed in this study as well, they also helped to lower cholesterol, but only lentils significantly reduced the rise in blood pressure and large-artery remodeling (it reduced the media: lumen ratio; having a high ratio of this is a marker of atherosclerosis) (1)

The rats in this study were fed diets containing 30 % lentils on a daily basis. It may be hard to give human recommendations based on the findings of laboratory rats, but with these results, it certainly would be safe to say that including more lentils in your diet couldn´t hurt your blood pressure levels or atherosclerosis risk. So why not give them a try?

Now that you have a little extra motivation to eat your lentils, you may still be struggling with how to make them tasty. Below is one of my favorite lentil recipes which I adapted from The Encyclopedia of Foods Healthy Recipes. I like to make a dinner meal out of this and sometimes add whole grain rice as a side dish with some steamed cabbage, spinach or broccoli. Hope you enjoy!

Lentil Soup

(1)    Matthew G. Hanson, Peter Zahradka and Carla G. Taylor. Lentil-based diets attenuate hypertension and large-artery remodeling in spontaneously hypertensive rats. British Journal of Nutrition, available on CJO2013. doi:10.1017/S0007114513002997.