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    Red lentils (Whole)

    Whole Red Lentils are tiny lens-shaped pulses which have traditionally been used as a meat substitute. Lentils should not be eaten raw, due to the presence of anti-nutrients such as phytic acid and tannins; some types of lentils require soaking overnight before cooking as well. The seeds require a cooking time of 10–30 minutes, depending on the variety (shorter for small varieties with the husk removed, such as the common red lentil) and have a distinctive earthy flavor. Lentils are used throughout South Asia, the Mediterranean regions and the Middle East. They are frequently combined with rice, which has a similar cooking time. A lentil and rice dish is referred to in the Middle East as mujaddara or mejadra. Rice and lentils are also cooked together in khichdi, a popular Indian dish; a similar dish, kushari, is made in Egypt and considered one of two national dishes. Lentils are used to prepare an inexpensive and nutritious soup all over Europe and North and South America, sometimes combined with some form of chicken or pork. Dried lentils can also be sprouted by leaving in water for several days. This changes their nutrition profile Lentils contain high levels of proteins, including the essential amino acids isoleucine and lysine, and are an essential source of inexpensive protein in many parts of the world for those who adhere to a vegetarian diet.Lentils are deficient in two essential amino acids, methionine and cysteine.However, sprouted lentils contain sufficient levels of all essential amino acids, including methionine and cysteine. Apart from a high level of proteins, lentils also contain dietary fiber, folate, vitamin B1, and minerals. Red (or pink) lentils contain a lower concentration of fiber than green lentils (11% rather than 31%).Health magazine has selected lentils as one of the five healthiest foods. Lentils are often mixed with grains, such as rice, which results in a complete protein dish. Lentils also have "anti-nutritional factors" such as trypsin inhibitors and relatively high phytate content. Trypsin is an enzyme involved in digestion and phytates reduce the bioavailability of dietary minerals.The phytates can be reduced by soaking the lentils in warm water overnight. Lentils are a good vegetable source of iron. This makes them useful for preventing iron deficiency.[citation needed] Iron is particularly important for adolescents and pregnant women, whose requirements for it are increased. As well as those who have Celiac disease as iron is a common deficiency.