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Lentils have long been staples in the human diet -- they were first cultivated over 8,000 years ago and were most likely introduced to the United States in the early 1900s. Because of their long shelf life, widespread availability and relatively low-cost, lentils are an economical and convenient addition to your pantry. They have lots of nutritional value, in the form of vitamins, minerals and fiber, and work well in a variety of recipes.
Lentil has 429 Calories and 14.29 g of Protein per 100 gram serving according to the nutrition facts provided by the USDA Food Composition Database.
Lentils serve as a moderate source of energy -- 165 calories per quarter cup of dry lentils, which yields roughly a half cup of cooked lentils. Lentils are very low in fat, so most of these calories come from protein and carbohydrates. Each serving provides 12.4 grams of protein, a source of amino acids your body uses to maintain your immune system and synthesize hormones. Lentils contain "incomplete" protein because they're missing the amino acids methionine and cystine, so combine them with other protein sources -- such as whole grains, dairy, eggs or meat -- to prevent an amino acid deficiency. A serving of lentils contains about 29 grams of carbohydrates, including 14.6 grams of fiber. Fiber helps reduce your blood cholesterol level, and a diet rich in fiber combats constipation.
- Lentils serve as a moderate source of energy -- 165 calories per quarter cup of dry lentils, which yields roughly a half cup of cooked lentils.
- Lentils contain "incomplete" protein because they're missing the amino acids methionine and cystine, so combine them with other protein sources -- such as whole grains, dairy, eggs or meat -- to prevent an amino acid deficiency.
Why Are Lentils Good for You?
Lentils also boost your vitamin intake, especially vitamin B-1, also called thiamin, and vitamin B-9, also called folate. Your body uses thiamin to process nutrients, including proteins and carbohydrates, and also relies on vitamin B-1 for healthy brain function. A serving of lentils provides 0.42 milligram of thiamin, which is 35 percent of the recommended daily intake for men and 38 for women. They also have 230 micrograms of folate, or 58 percent of the recommended daily intake. Like thiamin, folate helps process protein. It also regulates gene activity and maintains healthy red blood cells.
- Lentils also boost your vitamin intake, especially vitamin B-1, also called thiamin, and vitamin B-9, also called folate.
- Your body uses thiamin to process nutrients, including proteins and carbohydrates, and also relies on vitamin B-1 for healthy brain function.
Eat lentils for copper and magnesium, two essential minerals 5. Your body uses both minerals to activate enzymes essential for energy production, and relies on magnesium to maintain healthy bone tissue. Copper keeps DNA healthy, because it acts as an antioxidant to protect tissue from mutation-causing free radicals. A serving of lentils has 59 milligrams of magnesium -- 18 percent of the recommended daily intake for women and 14 percent for men -- and 249 micrograms of copper, or 28 percent of the recommended daily intake.
- Eat lentils for copper and magnesium, two essential minerals 5.
- Your body uses both minerals to activate enzymes essential for energy production, and relies on magnesium to maintain healthy bone tissue.
Eating More Lentils
The Nutrition and Fiber in Crowder Peas
Add a handful of green lentils to turkey chilli as it cooks to boost your meal's nutritional value, or cook pink lentils, along with your favorite vegetables, in a mixture of warming spices, no-sodium broth and crushed tomatoes for a convenient and filling main course. Serve your meal with a slice of whole-grain toast to get all the amino acids your body needs. Alternatively, blend cooked lentils together with mushrooms, whole-grain bread crumbs, chili pepper and cumin, and then shape the mixture into patties for vegetarian lentil burgers.
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- Purdue Universty: Lentil
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Lentils, Raw
- Linus Pauling Institute: Thiamin
- Linus Pauling Institute: Folic Acid
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Magnesium
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Copper
- Lentils, dry, cooked, fat not added in cooking. USDA FoodData Central. Updated April 1, 2019.
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- Sievenpiper JL, Kendall CW, Esfahani A, et al. Effect of non-oil-seed pulses on glycaemic control: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled experimental trials in people with and without diabetes. Diabetologia. 2009;52(8):1479-95. doi:10.1007/s00125-009-1395-7
- Rebello CJ, Greenway FL, Finley JW. A review of the nutritional value of legumes and their effects on obesity and its related co-morbidities. Obes Rev. 2014;15(5):392-407. doi:10.1111/obr.12144
- Variety of lentil proteins makes recommendations on avoidance difficult. American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. Published July 24, 2015.
- Legumes (Including Pulses). Anaphylaxis Campaign. Published March 2019.
- Jensen K, Ni Y, Panagiotou G, Kouskoumvekaki I. Developing a molecular roadmap of drug-food interactions. PLoS Comput Biol. 2015;11(2):e1004048. Published 2015 Feb 10. doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1004048
- Ndidi US, Ndidi CU, Olagunju A, Muhammad A, Billy FG, Okpe O. Proximate, Antinutrients and Mineral Composition of Raw and Processed (Boiled and Roasted) Sphenostylis stenocarpa Seeds from Southern Kaduna, Northwest Nigeria. ISRN Nutr. 2014;2014:280837. Published 2014 Mar 16. doi:10.1155/2014/280837
- Anti-nutritional Factors. U.S. National Library of Medicine.
- Before You Toss Food, Wait. Check It Out! U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Sylvie Tremblay holds a Master of Science in molecular and cellular biology and has years of experience as a cancer researcher and neuroscientist.