05/15/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

The 10 Things You Need to Eat: Lentils (VIDEO)

Let's be honest here: We could all use a little more fiber in our lives. And not just for the most obvious reason ...

On top of being great for regularity, fiber has also been shown to lower cholesterol, reduce heart disease and decrease the risk of diabetes. That's a pretty impressive list!

Yet sadly, a majority of adults and children are eating only a small fraction of the recommended fiber intake daily, which means they're missing out on so many of its preventative and beneficial properties. Part of the problem is that most Americans don't even know how to readily get fiber into their diets. In one large study by the National Fiber Council, 60 percent of people who were surveyed said that meat was a good source of fiber. (Wrong. It's actual fiber content: zero.)

Fortunately there's an incredible source of fiber sitting on your supermarket's shelves that's cheap, versatile, easy to cook, and delicious: lentils.

Lentils you say!? Yup, the humble little lentil. Pound for pound they are one of the best nutritional values in the entire grocery store. For about a buck a package you can fill up your entire family with food that is high in fiber and high in protein with no cholesterol or fat. A single cup of cooked lentils is packed with 63 percent of the daily recommended value of fiber intake. After one meal with lentils in your day, you could have just one piece of fruit and meet all of your fiber needs, easy as that.
I know what you re thinking. The idea of lentils at the dinner table isn't going to go over too hot at your house.

But lentils can actually be your little healthy benevolent secret. That's because lentils can be disguised in all kinds of manners by adding them to other full-flavored foods without your hungry kids even knowing the difference. My "Better Burger" and my lentil chili are both great examples. By adding a healthy portion of lentils to these recipes I'm able to both eliminate a lot of red meat from my diet and satisfy my fiber requirements at the same time. I don't even miss the meat and neither will you.

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