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Learn to Love: Lentils

With this economy, we're all looking for ways to save money. Since animal sources of protein can be pricey, why not opt to have at least one meal a week focused on plant-based proteins? I'm talking about lentils. They're a type of legume, and have the third highest level of vegetarian protein after soybeans and hemp. There are a huge variety of lentils, ranging in size and color from brown, to black, tan, green, red, and yellow.

Aside from being a great Winter comfort food because of their soft texture, lentils are one of the best vegetarian sources of iron, and have high levels of the amino acids isoleucine and lysine. Lentils are also excellent sources of cholesterol-lowering fiber, and folate, which is needed during pregnancy. Since they're low on the glycemic index, they may also help you lose weight. Add them to soups, stews, or use them to make a cold salad. They're quick and easy to make since lentils don't need to be pre-soaked like other beans.

To see how lentils compare nutritionally to other legumes


Here's the nutritional info for half a cup of dry beans.

Lentils Black beans Kidney beans
Calories 339 331 310
Total Fat (g) 1 1.4 1
Saturated Fat (g) .1 .4 .1
Sodium (mg) 6 mg 4.9 11
Potassium (mg) 917 1,439 1,251
Iron (mg) 7.2 4.9 6.2
Calcium (mg) 54 119.5 76.5
Folate (mcg) 460 430.5 362.5
Carbs (g) 57.7 60.5 56.4
Fiber (g) 29.3 15 14
Sugars (g) 2 2 2
Protein (g) 25 21 21

Check out all that iron, potassium, and calcium. Compared to black and kidney beans, lentils are loaded with fiber and protein. Who knew such a little bean could be so healthy? If lentils have never made it into your kitchen, it's time to pick up a bag. If you're not sure how to prepare them, make some Lentil Tomato Soup, Indian Lentils and Rice, or Lemony Lentil-Spinach Stew.


miss-malone miss-malone 8 years
Yummy! I love lentils :)
divinedebris divinedebris 8 years
I've never tried to cook with lentils but I honestly would like to start, thanks Fit for reminding me. :D
i-heart-monster i-heart-monster 8 years
mmmm lentils. i heart lentils.
sweetpeabrina sweetpeabrina 8 years
I love lentils! I posted a lentil salad (adas salatasi) a few weeks ago. It's super yum!
doogirl doogirl 8 years
I make a lentil soup that is to die for, and I eat it every day! YUM! I've also used them to stretch a shepherd's pie, I'll use half ground beef and half lentils. I keep several bags of them in my pantry at all times, they cook quickly, and are delicious!
marisa99 marisa99 8 years
The Lentil Tomato Soup recipe isn't coming up.
anna_muffin anna_muffin 8 years
I like lentils, but they give me gas. And my boyfriend doesn't really like legumes in general, so haven't been eating enough of them lately.
bengalspice bengalspice 8 years
mmmmmmm ... daal
ilanac13 ilanac13 8 years
i never really used to eat lentils before - i heard about them, but they never made their way into my diet, and now i eat a lot of soups that have them as an ingredient, and it's become something that i enjoy. aside from any nutritional value that they have, the texture is really good especially in a soup.
Bmoney Bmoney 8 years
i love lentils I make shepards pie with them as the "meat"
babyma babyma 8 years
500 calories is not a lot because you usually put lentils in soup and you only eat a fraction of that! bluepuppybits try lentil soup with coconut and spice it always works for me..
bluepuppybites bluepuppybites 8 years
I hate lentils I tried to cook with them this summer because, my husband is allergic to beans so I was looking for a different source of vegean protein. I really hate the texture and maybe the recipes I choose too. But I had such bad luck with these.
kashore kashore 8 years
a half-cup __dry__ - when cooked the lentils (and other beans) will expand considerably.
aimeeb aimeeb 8 years
Holy calories is right!!
fleurfairy fleurfairy 8 years
A half-cup is 300+ calories? That's insane.
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