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Grocery shopper expresses confusion over the cheap superfood that most Americans ignore: '[They] have been around for ages'

The edible seeds "have sustained empires" in the past.

Lentils superfood

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One Redditor is trumpeting a Washington Post report noting the health benefits of lentils, a legume that is on the table for only 8% of Americans each day. That's far less than the amount eaten around the world. 

Experts are saying that Americans are missing out on a sustainable substitute for meat that packs more protein punch than steak. The edible seeds "have sustained empires" in the past, according to the Post

Now, they can be a game changer for better health for people and the planet. 

They are "[e]asy to cook, easy to flavor. And, great if I've been eating too much junk food and want to drop a few pounds," a Redditor commented in the r/environment subreddit. 

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What are lentils?

These legumes grow in pods around the world, with common types being brown, green, red, and black. They are packed with vitamins and minerals, without the cholesterol and fat load that comes with red meats, according to the Cleveland Clinic. 

"Lentils have been around for ages, but it's taken a while for us to realize how powerful they are for our bodies," dietitian Elyse Homan said on the Cleveland Clinic's website. "They aren't just a cheap alternative to meat anymore. They can be the foundation for a variety of meals and make a real difference to your health."

Are they good for you? 

Lentil champions are touting the seeds as a food of the future that can provide an alternative to lab-grown meats and bean-based burgers. 

A half-cup of cooked lentils has about 140 calories, a half-gram of fat, and plenty of protein and fiber. Health experts at the Cleveland Clinic said that lentils protect against disease, lower blood pressure, and boost energy, among other perks. 

Brown lentils are inexpensive and stay firm, making them a good filler in veggie burgers, the Cleveland Clinic notes. Most online reviews attribute a nutty, earthy flavor to the legume. They can be spiced up with sauces and other ingredients, prepared as a meat substitute, and even work in a chocolate brownie. A 1-pound bag can be found online for less than $2. 

What are we waiting for? 

The Post reports that the rest of the world has been enjoying lentils for millennia, noting that about 6 million tons are grown globally each year. 

Aside from the health impact, lentils are a boon for the Earth. Unlike wheat and corn, the Post reports that lentils rebuild the soil. They can generally survive on rainfall alone.  

The Post notes that lentils have a history with humans, as they have been a part of life up to 13,000 years ago. 

And a group of scientists in 2019 designed a diet that the Post reports could sustain 10 billion people by 2050. A key recommendation is to double the number of legumes on the menu. 

Lentil newbies don't have much of a learning curve. The legumes can be boiled in about 5 to 20 minutes. An easy way to start introducing lentils to the menu is to include them in salads, soups, and dips. 

"Lentils are so easy, cheap, quick, healthy, and tasty," a Redditor commented. 

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