Q & A Thursday: lentils and rice
Posted by kathryn in Grains
Next question is from Paul:
I seem to recall that rice and lentils together are even better than on their own. Is that right? Do you know why?
Yes Paul, lentils and rice are an important combination and it’s all about the protein they contain.
Legumes, like lentils are wonderful foods. Highly nutritious and full of fibre, people who include legumes in their diet have a reduced incidence of cardiovascular disease.
However, in isolation, the protein in grains and legumes has a low biological value (LBV). This means their amino acid content is low in one or more of the eight essential amino acids . From this post:
To counter-act the LBV of most plant foods and ensure an adequate intake of all the essential amino acids, vegetarians need to eat a variety of protein containing foods.
The idea is that by using different sources of protein you counter-act the amino acid deficiencies in each food and increase the overall protein value of your meal, with an amino acid spectrum that much more closely matches your body’s needs.
For example legumes have lots of the amino acid lysine but are low in methionine. Whereas grains are high in methionine and low in lysine. Separately their use is limited, but when combined each makes up for the lack in the other and overall provides a much more useful protein meal.
By eating lentils and rice together therefore, you’re improving the value of the protein you eat. This is an important strategy for vegetarians and for others trying to reduce their meat intake.
Similar combinations can be seen in many traditional cultures:
- dal and rice
- beans and flatbreads
- tofu and rice or noodles
- stir-fries with nuts and rice
- paneer cheese and rice
- beans and corn tortillas