Lentils are small disk shaped seeds and come in a variety of colors — yellow, orange-red, green, brown, and black. Lentils are a nutritional powerhouse.

Description & Health Benefits

  • Lentils are part of the Fabaceae botanical family which also consists of soy beans, black beans, kidney beans, white beans, pinto beans and peanuts to name a few.
  • Lentils are small disk shaped seeds and come in a variety of colors — yellow, orange-red, green, brown, and black.
  • Lentils are a nutritional powerhouse. A 1/2 cup serving is an excellent source of folate, fiber, and manganese, and a good source of protein, thiamin, iron, phosphorus, potassium, and copper.
    • Folate is required to create DNA and other genetic material. Adequate folate intake reduces the incidence of neural tube defects in pregnant women.
    • Fiber aids in a healthy digestive system by preventing constipation. It also helps you to feel full faster which can assist in weight control.
    • Manganese assists the body to form bones and connective tissue while also playing a part in calcium absorption and blood sugar regulation.
    • Protein helps the body to repair cells and create new ones, which is very important in times of growth and development for children, teens, and pregnant women.
    • Thiamin plays a role in muscle contraction and assists the body to convert carbohydrates into energy.
    • Iron is required for growth, development, and the creation of red blood cells which are needed to transport oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body.
    • Phosphorus is important in the formation of bones and teeth.
    • Potassium supports nerve and muscle communication and helps to maintain normal blood pressure.
    • Copper works with iron to form red blood cells and aids in the absorption of iron.

Purchasing, Selecting, Storing, and Preparing

  • Purchase lentils prepackaged or in bulk at grocery stores. Lentils may also be available canned. Look for brightly colored lentils that are uniform in size with smooth skins.
  • Store lentils in an air tight container that is in a cool, dark, and dry place. Lentils are best used within 1 year of purchase. The older the lentils, the longer they take to cook.
  • Prepare lentils by rinsing dry lentils and remove any rocks or pebbles that may be left from processing.
    • Presoaking is not required.
    • Cook on the stove top, using 1 cup lentils to 3 cups water or stock.
    • Lentils will double or triple in size so ensure you are using a large enough pan. Lentil sizes vary.
    • Bring lentils and water to a boil, reduce heat to simmer until lentils are tender. Drain water if necessary.
    • For whole lentils, approximate cooking time is 15-20 minutes.
    • For split lentils, cook for 5-7 minutes.
    • Season with salt after cooking otherwise the lentils will becomes tough.

Nutrition Facts

1/2 cup cooked lentils
Calories:  115 | Protein: 8.93 g | Fat: 0.38 g | Carbohydrate: 19.93 g | Fiber: 7.8 g | Calcium: 19 mg | Magnesium: 36 mg | Potassium: 365 mg Vitamin C: 1.5 mg | Folate: 179 µg | Vitamin A: 8 IU
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