Dried beans are a staple in many countries around the world. They are inexpensive and relatively easy sources of protein that sometimes may be overlooked in the standard American diet. If you are trying to eat a more plant-based diet, want to be more earth friendly or even just trying to include more protein in your diet, you may want to give lentil beans a look. Some benefits of these beans include:

Cost: Some dried lentils can cost only $1.49 per pound, even less if you buy in bulk!

Fiber: Lentils are an excellent source of fiber, with about 16g per cup which is half of the daily recommendations! Fiber which can keep you regular, keep you fuller for longer, help to control blood sugar levels and prevent digestive disorders.

Heart Health: Lentils contain soluble fiber which is beneficial for lowering cholesterol which may reduce your risk for heart disease.

Protein: Lentils contain about 18g of protein for 1 Cup of cooked beans for only 230 Calories.

Vitamins and minerals: Lentils are an excellent source of molybdenum (which is important in various enzymes and antioxidant activity) and folate (important for cell division, especially in pregnant women). They are a very good source of copper (important in red blood cell production), phosphorus (used in basic cell production and bone health) and manganese (important for bone production and skin health). They are also a good source of iron (which is important for red blood cell function and preventing anemia) and contain about 37% of the Daily Value.

Easy: Lentils are extremely easy to prepare and cook. Most recipes suggest that you pick through the lentils to sift away any little rocks or debris, then boil in broth or water for about 25 minutes. Here is a great recipe for Lentil Soup from the Food Network to get you started.