Although lentils are a dish that raises passions in Spain, summer is not the best time. As they are usually served hot, these legumes have often been associated with cold winter days. However, lentils are a very healthy delicacy that we should not limit to a single season of the year. In this sense, summer vacations can also be a good occasion to enjoy them.
These legumes are very cheap, but they offer a large amount of energy: according to the Spanish Nutrition Foundation (FEN), lentils contain 351 kilocalories per 100 grams. But the most important thing is that this food is loaded with nutrients. In its composition stand out proteins, which make up almost 24% of the composition, and dietary fiber, which occupies almost 12%. Also, lentils contain various minerals.
Without a doubt, the most famous mineral in lentils is iron. It is true that these legumes are a source of this mineral, but of a slightly special variant. The iron in lentils is known as no hemo Y the body finds it more difficult to absorb it than the iron that comes from the meat of animals. However, there is a way to make more use of the iron in lentils.
If iron from plant foods is absorbed worse than that present in animals, it is due to its molecular structure. The iron hemo is contained within hemoglobin and, thanks to this structure, it is more protected against other elements that can block its absorption. The iron no hemoOn the contrary, it is more unprotected: in the end, only between 2% and 5% of the total is absorbed.
Phosphates, phytates or tannins are some of the substances that block the absorption of iron when they are in the digestive system. The iron contribution that we obtain after a meal, in this sense, will also depend on the foods with which we accompany the lentils. As explained in this EL ESPAÑOL article, drinking tea after lentils can reduce iron intake by 60%.
However, we can also take certain foods that allow us to take advantage of a greater amount of the iron contained in lentils. In this sense, we must accompany this meal with foods that contain a good supply of vitamin C. The combination of this substance and iron no hemo it allows the latter not to be blocked by phosphates, phytates and tannins and, in addition, it keeps the molecule in its reduced form.
The most common recommendation to increase the iron intake when we eat lentils is to have them for dessert a citrus fruit like a tangerine, orange, kiwi, or even strawberries. “There are studies that indicate that with 25 milligrams of ascorbic acid [otro nombre para la vitamina C] in two meals a day the absorption of iron would be doubled “, explains the pharmacist Marián García in her blog Boticaria García.
In any case, there are other foods that are a source of vitamin C and that even contain more of this substance. One of the most common in our kitchens is pepper. In fact, while an orange typically has 53.2 milligrams of vitamin C per 100 grams, the pepper has no less than 127.7 milligrams in the same weight. Of course, vitamin C is reduced if we cook them.
For this reason, accompany some lentils with a glass of fresh gazpacho in summer it provides a large amount of vitamin C. Although it is shaken, the pepper that contains the gazpacho that we have made at home has not been subjected to heat and, for this reason, it contains a large amount of vitamin C. Thanks to it, We will be able to take better advantage of the iron in the lentils.
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