With our New Year’s resolutions set in place, sometimes it is hard to stay on top of them, especially when weight loss is one of them.

Difficulties can range from not feeling motivated to feeling like all this healthy food is just too expensive!

I am here to help! Let’s talk lentils.

Lentils are an amazing way to get some of our much-needed protein throughout the day. One pound of lentils only costs $1.76, compared to a pound of beef that can cost anywhere between $3 to $4.

For every quarter-cup of lentils, you not only receive 10 grams of protein, but you also receive 11 grams of dietary fiber and 20 grams of carbohydrates.

Ground beef does have a little more protein (between 12 and 16 grams), but it also adds about 25 grams of fat and 19 grams of sodium.

Even if you just switched out ground beef for lentils (perhaps about two times a week), you would be reducing the amount of fat you consume while saving money on top of that!

In addition to being a protein powerhouse, lentils help lower cholesterol, are heart healthy, promote great digestive health, stabilize blood sugar and promote weight loss.

Due to the high levels of soluble fiber lentils contain, they are a great source in helping lower cholesterol. Lowering your cholesterol leaves you with healthier arteries, reducing risk of heart disease as well as strokes.

Not only are lentils rich in fiber, but they are also rich in folate and magnesium.

Folate lowers something called homocysteine, and having high levels of homocysteine increases risk for heart disease.

Magnesium not only improves blood flow, but the flow of oxygen and nutrients throughout the body. Low levels of magnesium have been shown to be directly correlated to heart disease, as well.

Furthermore, the insoluble fiber in lentils also helps with constipation and other digestive disorders, including irritable bowel syndrome and diverticulosis.

On the other hand, the soluble fiber found in lentils helps slow down digestion, ultimately stabilizing blood sugar levels and proving especially beneficial for those with diabetes, insulin resistance or hypoglycemia.

Weight loss is also another benefit to be reaped by eating lentils. They contain about 1 gram of fat, are low in calories, and still leave you feeling full and satisfied.

Lentils can be used in soups, a side dish and even a pot pie! They are very versatile and easy to cook. With the nutrient content lentils bring to the table and their more-than-affordable price, you really are getting the bang for your buck when you choose to add lentils to your diet.

Michalik is a Bluffton University intern at the Ohio State University Extension of Hancock County.