With more and more people going vegan, and a desire to switch to more sustainable food sources (because of the growing population and climate change) we are likely to hear more often about food sources we didn’t know existed before. Water lentils are the perfect example. They seem to have come out of nowhere but are already referred to as the food of the future. So what is water lentil, you ask, and why is it considered a complete food source? Well, let’s see!
What Is Water Lentil Anyway?
Water lentil, also called duckweed, is a type of tiny flowering aquatic plant that floats on the surface of freshwater. It has actually nothing to do with the lentils we usually eat, which are legumes, except that they look quite similar.
Even though you may only have heard about these recently, water lentils have been used for a long time in Asia for human and animal consumption.
Now water lentils can be found under the name LENTEIN, which is a powder simply made of dried water lentils. The great thing is, since water lentil powder doesn’t have any particular taste, it can be easily added to smoothies or baked goods without the risk of altering their flavor.
It Contains Everything You Need
Water lentil is considered a superfood because it is nutritionally dense. It contains a high amount and variety of different vitamins and minerals while at the same time, it is also rich in antioxidants, healthy fats, fiber and protein. So this includes pretty much all the nutrients we need for our body to stay healthy and work properly.
- Water lentils happen to be extremely rich in protein, so much that they are often compared to whey. They are actually a source of complete protein as they contain all 9 essential amino acids, the ones that our body needs but cannot produce on its own. But unlike whey protein powder, water lentil powder is vegan-friendly and does not contain any allergens.
- Water lentils also contain Omega 3 fatty acids which are a type of healthy fat that can help lower triglyceride levels in the body and prevent heart diseases and stroke.
- The numerous antioxidants present in water lentils including beta-carotene, lutein, chlorophyll and polyphenols, can help our body fight against oxidative stress and reduce the risk of developing chronic illnesses.
- Water lentils are also rich in both types of fiber, soluble and insoluble. Which is particularly good for proper digestion and to prevent constipation.
- Water lentils contain many different types of vitamins and minerals especially vitamin A, B12, iron, calcium, phosphorus and magnesium.
Water lentil’s vitamin B12 content is what makes it particularly interesting for people who are on a plant-based diet.
Why Is Vitamin B12 So Important?
Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) is a water-soluble vitamin that is very important for all cell production in the body, especially red blood cells, so regularly consuming enough of it is essential. However, it has been recently reported that most people on a vegan diet actually don’t get enough vitamin B12.
The thing is, vitamin B12 is mostly found in animal products including meat, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy, so those on a plant-based diet are much more likely to be deficient.
Vitamin B12 deficiency can cause weakness and fatigue as there are not enough red blood cells to transport oxygen all around the body.
Other symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency include pale skin, breathlessness, dizziness and low mood. Over time, it can lead to nerve damage and vision problems.
Other Health Benefits Of Water Lentils
- Can help improve performance during exercise
Water lentils actually contain a high amount of BCAAs (Branched-Chained Amino Acids). This is particularly interesting if you work out regularly and are trying to build muscle as this type of essential amino-acid helps you to be more efficient and to perform better while exercising. And since BCAAs have also been proven to help reduce muscle soreness and fatigue after exercise, adding water lentil powder to your routine may be a great idea.
- Can help weight loss
Studies have shown that consuming enough fiber could help weight loss.
There are actually two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble.
Soluble fiber absorbs water and therefore expands inside the stomach by forming a gel that slows down digestion.
Soluble fiber has been shown to slow down the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream as well as reduce blood cholesterol. Water lentil’s high soluble fiber content also keeps you full for longer and is therefore good if you are trying to control weight or diabetes.
On the other hand, insoluble fiber does not absorb water but adds bulk to the diet, which helps food pass through the digestive system more quickly and thus leads to better digestion.
As water lentils contain both soluble and insoluble fiber, these tiny plants can be great weight-loss allies!
A More Sustainable Alternative
Water lentils are considered a sustainable food source for different reasons.
First of all, water lentils grow quite rapidly. So they can be grown and harvested very quickly as they tend to double every 16-32 hours. This means they can actually be harvested every day!
Secondly, to grow water lentils, there is no need for herbicides or pesticides. It turns out that these aquatic plants are actually great at naturally keeping insects and bacterias away.
And finally, even though water lentils grow in aqua farms and so quite a lot of water is needed to cultivate them, it is still less water-demanding than many other crops and cattle farming. That is because the water used to grow these tiny plants can be recycled and reused to grow water lentils again.
Water Lentils Are Here To Stay
Water lentils are becoming increasingly popular, and now that you know exactly what water lentil is, you can clearly see why. It is packed with a variety of nutrients essential for good health. The high protein content and the absence of allergens make water lentil powder a great option for anyone looking to improve their performance during workouts. And as it is one of the only plant-based sources of vitamin B12, it is the perfect ingredient for those following a plant-based diet. Moreover, water lentils do not have any known side-effects, so you know you’ve got nothing to lose by trying them!