Yellow lentils are a small, round, edible pulse (legume) that has a mild, earthy flavor and soft texture. They are one of the most popular types of lentils and are often used in dishes such as soups, stews, and salads. Like most legumes, lentils are a good source of plant-based protein and fiber, as well as minerals such as potassium, zinc, and magnesium. They also contain significant amounts of folate and vitamin B6, both of which are important for maintaining cardiovascular health. In this article, we will take a closer look at the nutritional profile of yellow lentils, as well as some of the potential health benefits they offer. We will also provide some recipes that you can try using this nutrient-rich legume.
Yellow Lentils Nutrition Facts
- Calories: 230
- Carbs: 39.9 grams
- Protein: 17.9 grams
- Fat: 0.8 grams
- Fiber: 15.6 grams
- Thiamine: 28% of the DV
- Niacin: 13% of the DV
- Vitamin B6: 21% of the DV
- Folate: 90% of the DV
- Pantothenic acid: 25% of the DV
- Iron: 37% of the DV
- Magnesium: 17% of the DV
- Phosphorus: 28% of the DV
- Potassium: 16% of the DV
- Zinc: 23% of the DV
- Copper: 55% of the DV
- Manganese: 43% of the DV
Yellow Lentils Health Benefits
Looking at the nutrition facts, you can see that yellow lentils are a good source of fiber and plant-based protein. They also contain significant amounts of certain minerals and micronutrients such as potassium, magnesium, and vitamin B6.
Below we take a closer look at how each of these nutrients may benefit your health:
One cup of cooked lentils has about 18 grams of protein, which is around the same amount found in most other legumes. Protein is an essential macronutrient that your body needs to build and maintain muscle mass, as well as carry out various physiological functions properly. Additionally, it may be useful for making you feel full and satisfied after a meal, which can be especially beneficial for managing your weight (8).
Each cup of cooked lentils contains around 15.6 grams of fiber, making it the approximate equivalent to eating about 32 grams of dietary fiber from sources other than lentils. Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that your body cannot digest or absorb. However, it still has many important physiological benefits, such as maintaining optimal gut health and promoting a feeling of fullness (2).
Magnesium is an essential dietary mineral that your body needs for various physiological functions. It is involved in cell maintenance and repair, energy production, and synthesis of proteins and nucleic acids (DNA/RNA) (5).
One cup of cooked lentils contains around 33% of the recommended daily value (DV) for vitamin B6. This important water-soluble vitamin is needed by your body to synthesize amino acids and create red blood cells, as well as support cognitive function. Additionally, it may have a positive effect on your mood by helping to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety (10).
One cup of cooked lentils has around 748 milligrams (mg) of potassium, which is more than the amount found in most other legumes. This essential mineral is needed for maintaining fluids and the electrolyte balance in your blood as well as muscle contractions. It also serves as a medium of transmitting messages from your nerves to the rest of the body (7).
In addition, it may help protect against vascular diseases such as hypertension since people with low intakes of potassium have been found to be at higher risk for high blood pressure (7).
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Lentils contain phosphorus in amounts similar to most other legumes. Phosphorus is another mineral that is essential for maintaining bone health, enzyme function in the body, and energy production. Additionally, it plays a role in promoting healthy kidneys and reducing the risk of kidney stones (6).
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)
Lentils are a good source of vitamin B1, which is needed to make new cells and enzymes which are needed for various physiological processes. Additionally, it may help regulate your blood sugar levels by helping the body break down carbohydrates into glucose. Also, it may play a role in preventing health conditions such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity (6).
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
Lentils are a good source of vitamin B2, which is needed to help metabolize proteins and lipids in your body. Additionally, it may play a role in helping to protect your skin from harmful ultraviolet radiation from the sun, which means it may help to reduce your risk of developing skin cancer (6).
Vitamin B3 (Niacin)
Lentils are a good source of vitamin B3, which is also known as niacin. This water-soluble vitamin is needed to release energy from carbohydrates and aid in the production of various lipids. It may also help lower cholesterol levels by inhibiting the enzyme that breaks down some fatty acids (6).
Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid)
Lentils are a good source of vitamin B5, which is needed to release energy from proteins and aid in the synthesis of various lipids. It may also help protect against cardiovascular disease by inhibiting the enzyme that helps break down cholesterol (HMG-CoA reductase) (6).
Lentils are a good source of folate, which is needed to help maintain normal healthy neural tube development during pregnancy. In addition, folate may play a role in helping prevent cardiovascular disease by inhibiting the enzyme that helps break down homocysteine. Also, it has been shown to have a positive effect on your mood by helping to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety (6).
Lentils are a good source of manganese, which is needed for enzyme function and connective tissue production. Additionally, it may help to prevent osteoporosis and some cancers, such as breast cancer and prostate cancer. It also plays a role in the metabolism of cholesterol and carbohydrates, as well as promoting bone development (6).
Lentils are a good source of zinc, which is needed for the synthesis of proteins and DNA, enzyme function, and a strong immune system. Additionally, it may help to prevent osteoporosis by inhibiting the enzyme that helps break down collagen. Also, it may play a role in protecting your immune health (6).
Lentils are also rich in various other types of beneficial nutrients, many of which are known as phytochemicals. These chemicals are found in plants and give them their color, smell, and taste. They may help protect your body against oxidative stress, inflammation, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, cancer , and various other diseases and conditions (6).
Anti Nutrients In Lentils
Despite their health benefits, yellow lentils contain antinutrients that may affect the absorption of beneficial nutrients. Some of these antinutrients include:
One of the most notable antinutrients are trypsin inhibitors , which are substances that inhibit the digestive enzyme trypsin. Trypsin is needed to help break down proteins into amino acids in your body, so inhibiting this enzyme means that protein will not be broken down as efficiently. This may lead to impaired protein digestion and malnutrition (6).
Lectins are other substances that may affect nutrient absorption. These chemicals help protect plants against predators by causing nausea and diarrhea to discourage animals from eating them. It is thought that these chemicals also serve as a defense mechanism for humans, who can develop an immunity to their effects over time and with low-level exposure (6).
Tannins are chemicals found in plants that have antioxidant properties. They are also responsible for the astringent taste of certain plants. However, they may interfere with protein absorption by binding to proteins and forming complexes that are not easily broken down by digestive enzymes (6).
Phytic acid is an antinutrient that can chelate, or bind to various minerals , including calcium, magnesium, iron, copper, and zinc. This binding may affect the absorption of these minerals by your body. This nutrient also has antioxidant properties (6).
How To Cook Lentils
When cooking lentils, there are several things to keep in mind. Lentils should be rinsed thoroughly under running water before use. Additionally, they should be cooked for at least 10 minutes. Undercooked lentils may cause symptoms associated with antinutrients, whereas overcooking can result in mushy lentils that aren’t very appetizing. Lentils should be stored in a cool, dry place and should not be kept for more than 1 year.
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Here are some simple lentil recipes you can try out at home:
Roasted Beet And Carrot Lentil Salad With Feta, Yogurt And Dill (9)
This recipe delivers a protein-rich, nutritious and crunchy combo courtesy of the almond and roasted beet and carrot salad. Here’s how you make it:
- 1 ½ cups (200g) French green lentils, rinsed and picked over
- 1 small yellow onion, quartered
- 1 large bay leaf
- Fine sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 bunch beets (any color or combination), scrubbed, trimmed, and cut into eighths
- 1 bunch carrots, scrubbed, trimmed, halved lengthwise (if small) or cut into ½ -inch slices (if large)
- 3 tablespoons (45 ml) olive oil, more as needed
- 1 cup (235 ml) plain full-fat yogurt
- 1 large clove garlic, put through a press or minced
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) fresh lemon juice, more as needed
- ¼ cup parsley, chopped, plus more for garnish
- ¼ cup dill, chopped, plus more for garnish
- 4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
- ½ cup (70 g) toasted almonds, coarsely chopped if whole
- Start by placing a rack in the center of an oven then preheating it to 425 degrees F.
- Put the lentils in a medium saucepan and add about 3 inches of water, onion and bay leaf.
- Bring the mixture to a boil and turn down the heat to low and let it simmer for about 20-30 minutes. The lentils should now be tender but still maintain their shape.
- Add 1 teaspoon of salt when it’s almost fully cooked adding more water if needed. Drain the lentils and discard the bay leaf and onion.
- Now toss the carrots and beets using 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and ½ teaspoon of both the pepper and salt. Roast in the oven for 25-30 minutes until they turn brown and tender, tossing them halfway through cooking.
- Whisk the garlic, yogurt, lemon juice, chopped parsley, 1 tablespoon olive oil and ¼ teaspoon salt in a small bowl.
- Once ready to serve, drizzle over the lentils some olive oil, lemon juice and toss. Add some pepper and salt to taste if needed.
- Place the lentils on a large platter then top it using the feta, almonds, extra herbs and roasted vegetables. Drizzle over the yogurt sauce and serve warm.
This recipe is courtesy of bojongoyrmet.com
Lentil Soup (4)
Why should you ever settle for bland soup when you have this recipe! The dash of spices with a lemon finish enhances its taste and flavor that’ll leave you begging for more. Here’s how you make it:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 large carrot, chopped into 1 ¼ cups
- 2 celery rib, chopped into 1 ¼ cups
- 2 cups (400g) dried lentils
- 14 oz (400g) crushed tomatoes
- 1.5 liters vegetable or chicken stock
- ½ teaspoon each cumin and coriander powder
- 1 ½ teaspoon paprika powder
- 2 dried bay leaves
- 1 lemon (zest + juice)
- ¼ teaspoon salt and pepper
- Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
- Warm bread, to serve
- Start by heating the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and let it cook for 2 minutes.
- Add the carrot and celery and continue cooking for 7-10 minutes or until it’s just softened and the onion is sweet.
- Throw in the remaining ingredients except the salt and lemon and stir. Increase the heat and bring it to a simmer.
- Scoop off any scum from the surface and discard. Repeat this during cooking if required. Cover using a lid, reduce the heat to medium-low and let it simmer for about 35-40 minutes or until the lentils are soft.
- Remove the bay leaves.
- To thicken the soup, do 2-3 quick whizzes using a stick blender. Add a touch of water to adjust consistency if desired.
- Season to taste with the pepper and salt and grate over the lemon’s zest. Squeeze some lemon juice and serve.
- Garnish using parsley if desired and serve with warm crusty bread spread with butter.
This recipe is courtesy of recipetineats.com
Chicken And Lentil Stew With Gremolata (1)
Use the gremolata (parsley, garlic and lemon sprinkling) to spruce up a light tomato-based casserole for the best effect. Here’s how you make it:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 8 chicken drumsticks with skins on
- 2 onions, very finely chopped
- 6 tablespoons red lentil
- 400g can chopped tomatoes
- 1 chicken stock cube, crumbled
- Crusty bread, to serve
For the gremolata
- Zest 1 lemon
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- Small handful parsley, finely chopped
- Start by heating half the oil in a large flameproof casserole dish then brown the drumsticks on both sides. Transfer to a plate.
- Next add the remaining onions to the pan and throw in the onions. Cook for about 5 minutes or until they are soft.
- Add the tomatoes, lentils, stock cube and 1 can of water. Put the drumsticks back into the pan and bring it to a boil.
- Cover with a lid and simmer for about 30 minutes or until tender. Ensure you keep an eye on the stew, adding a little water if it dries out.
- Remove the lid and continue cooking for 10 minutes or until the sauce thickens and season.
- To make the gremolata, mix the garlic, lemon zest, garlic and parsley together. Sprinkle it over the cooked stew and serve alongside a chunk of crusty bread.
This recipe is courtesy of bbcgoodfood.com
In general, lentils are an excellent source of nutrients that may promote health and wellbeing by helping to reduce the risk of certain diseases and conditions. However, they also contain antinutrients that may interfere with nutrient digestion and absorption. Further research is needed to determine the exact degree of the effects that these antinutrients may have on your health, but it is generally recommended that you avoid eating lentils raw or undercooked. Lentils should be cooked thoroughly before serving, and they can be stored properly in a cool dry place for about 1 year.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Chicken & lentil stew with gremolata (n.d., bbcgoodfood.com)
- Health benefits of dietary fiber (2009, pubmed.gov)
- Lentils, mature, cooked, boiled, without salt (2019, usda.gov)
- Lentil Soup (2017, recipetinets.com)
- Magnesium (2021, nih.gov)
- Polyphenol-Rich Lentils and Their Health Promoting Effects (2017, nih.gov)
- Potassium (2021, nih.gov)
- Protein for Life: Review of Optimal Protein Intake, Sustainable Dietary Sources and the Effect on Appetite in Ageing Adults (2018, nih.gov)
- ROASTED BEET & CARROT LENTIL SALAD WITH FETA, YOGURT & DILL (2017, bojongourmet.com)
- Vitamin B6 (2021, nih.gov)