What are lentils?

Lentils are the seeds of Ervum lens, a leguminous plant of the family Papilionaceae. This old Legume has always been considered the "meat of the poor" because of the high content of protein and iron compared to other plant foods. Currently there are many varieties characterized by important nuances of flavor and different colors, ranging from orange to gray, passing through many shades of brown.


What are the nutritional properties?

100 grams of dried lentils cooked (boiled in water without added salt and drain) provide about 92 calories, broken down as follows:

  • 66% carbohydrates
  • 30% protein
  • 4% lipid

In particular, without the addition of salt in 100 grams of dried lentils cooked (boiled in water and drain) there are about:

  • 69.7 g of water
  • 6.9 g of protein
  • 0.4 g of lipid
  • 16.3 g carbohydrates
  • 13.5 g of starch
  • 0.7 g of soluble sugars
  • 8.3 g total fiber (soluble fiber 0.6 g; insoluble fiber 7.7 g)
  • 2 mg of sodium
  • 266 mg of potassium
  • 3 mg of iron
  • 29 mg of calcium
  • 146 mg of phosphorus
  • 28 mg of magnesium
  • 1.1 mg of zinc
  • 0.3 mg of copper
  • 4 micrograms of selenium
  • 0.12 mg of thiamine (vitamin B1)
  • 0.05 mg of riboflavin (vitamin B2)
  • 0.6 mg of niacin (vitamin B3 or vitamin PP)


When to not eat lentils?

The consumption of lentils is not recommended for patients with gout or uremia, because they contain a lot of purines.


Seasonality of lentils

Lentils are harvested between June and July, when the pods begin to turn yellow, but since their consumption occurs mostly after drying, they are present in supermarkets throughout the course of the year.


Possible benefits and drawbacks of lentils

Thanks to the important contribution of fibers, lentils turn out to be a great help in increasing the sense of satiety and facilitating intestinal transit. Due to the high quantity of minerals from which they are composed, lentils are a food suitable in case of fatigue, malnutrition and anemia.

Lentils also contain isoflavones, compounds with antioxidant properties, useful against free radicals. Thiamin (vitamin B1) present in them also promotes memory and concentration, while vitamin B3 (or vitamin PP) helps the body to better manage energy and reduce triglycerides in the blood.

As for contraindications, do not overdo it with the amount of lentils consumed especially in cases of predisposition to intestinal problems such as colitis, which may get worse with the consumption of this food. Lentils must always be consumed after cooking because when raw the contain non-digestible substances (which are broken down during cooking).