Lentil – 12 Health Benefits, Uses, and Side-effects

Pulses are an integral part of Indian cuisine, which is a key component of a healthy meal plan. One such pulse that is very rich in nutrients is lentil. This article discusses the health benefits of lentils.

What is Lentil?

Lentil is a leguminous annual plant in the Fabaceae family cultivated for its edible seeds. Lentils are widely grown throughout Europe, Asia, and North Africa. The seeds are mainly used in soups and stews. Lentils are a good source of protein, dietary fiber, B vitamins, iron, and phosphorus. (1)

Lentil has many health benefits. Lentil helps in weight loss and the high fiber content in lentils is good for your digestion. Lentils are good for diabetics as they control random spikes and drops in blood glucose levels. It is rich in protein and minerals, which help to boost various systems in your body.

Benefits of Lentil

Plant description

The lentil plant is erect or sub-erect with branched, hairy stems. The leaves of this plant are arranged together and consist of 4-7 ovate leaflets. This plant produces small blue, purple, white, or pink flowers arranged in silk with 1-4 flowers. The seeds or pulses are produced inside the pods and can be 2-9 mm (0.1-0.3 inches) in diameter depending on the variety and can be red, orange, yellow, green, or black in color. Lentils can reach a height of 15-75 cm (6-30 inches) and as annuals, can survive only one extended season.

Nutritional value per 100 g of Lentil/ Lens culinaris

Nutrients Value 
Energy 477 kj (114 kcal)
Carbohydrates 19.54 g 
Sugar 1.8 g
Dietary fiber 7.9 g 
Fat 0.38 g 
Protein 9.02 g 

Nutritional value of vitamins per 100g of Lentil/ Lens culinaris

Vitamins Quantity % DV
Thiamine (B1)  15% 0.169 mg
Riboflavin (B2) 6% 0.073 mg 
Niacin (B3) 7% 1.06 mg 
Pantothenic acid (B5) 13% 00.638 mg
Vitamin B6 14% 0.178 mg 
Folate (B9) 45% 181 μg
Vitamin B12 0% 0 μg 
Vitamin C2% 1.5 mg 
Vitamin D 0% 0 IU 
Vitamin E 1% 0.11 mg 
Vitamin K 2% 1.7 μg

Nutritional value of minerals per 100g of Lentil/ Lens culinaris

Minerals Quantity % DV
Calcium 2% 19 mg 
Copper 13% 0.251 mg 
Iron 25% 3.3 mg 
Magnesium 10% 36 mg 
Manganese 24% 0.494 mg
Phosphorus 26% 180 mg 
Potassium 8% 369 mg 
Selenium 4% 2.8 μg
Sodium 16% 238 mg 
Zinc 28% 2.68 mg

Scientific classification of Lentil/Lens culinaris

  • Kingdom: Plantae
  • Clade: Tracheophytes
  • Clade: Angiosperms
  • Clade: Eudicots
  • Clade: Rosids
  • Order: Fabales
  • Family: Fabaceae
  • Genus: Lens
  • Species: L. culinaris
  • Scientific name: Lens culinaris 

Benefits of Lentil

1. Digestive and gut health

Fiber acts as a bulking agent in the digestive system and also creates a feeling of fullness. Lentils contain fiber, which helps in easy bowel movements and weight loss. The insoluble dietary fiber found in them helps prevent constipation and other digestive disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome and diverticulosis.

2. Antioxidants properties

Lentils are full of polyphenol goodness. These are a group of health contributing phytochemicals. Along with other bioactive additives, polyphenols like flavonoids have powerful anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and neuroprotective properties.

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3. Stabilizes blood sugar levels

The fiber found in lentils reduces digestion and helps maintain blood sugar levels. Including them frequently in your diet can help control blood sugar levels of diabetes, hypoglycemia, as well as insulin resistance.

4. Healthy heart

If you consume lentils regularly, your overall risk of heart disease is significantly reduced as they are known to lower blood pressure. In addition, the protein in lentils inhibits the chemical angiotensin i-converting enzyme (ACE), which usually causes blood vessels to narrow and raise your blood pressure.

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Lentil is rich in folate, which prevents excessive accumulation of homocysteine (a common amino acid in our body). If you are obese, you have a higher risk of heart disease. Consuming lentils makes you eat less and stabilize your blood sugar levels.

5. Great source of protein

Since lentils contain a good amount of protein, this becomes an excellent source of protein for vegetarians and vegans. Although it contains all the essential amino acids, it is limited in methionine and tryptophan. Combining them with whole grains provides a complete profile of essential amino acids.

6. Promotes weight loss

Losing weight can be a most consuming task replete with diet, exercise and a ton of patience and self-discipline. However, you can accelerate your weight loss naturally by adding lentils to your diet.

Lentils are good for weight loss, these are extremely rich in fiber, which helps your body eliminate waste products faster. Moreover, it is low in fat therefore consuming it will not cause you to gain weight.

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7. Good for skin

There are many positive effects of lentils on skin. Initially, it resists rapid aging. This is because lentil contains a ton of antioxidants and these prevent and reduce damage to cells and cell tissues leading to accelerated aging. Homemade face packs using lentils, turmeric and lemon can help you thin your skin quickly without any harmful side effects.

A paste made with lentils soaked in milk can be applied to your skin on a daily basis to remove dry spots and nourish your skin completely from within. It helps to restore a beautiful natural radiance.

8. Reduces the risk of cancer

Cancer is a pretty serious disease and lentils can help you reduce your risk of cancer. The main reason for this is that lentils are high in fiber and folate which have anti-cancer properties.

By consuming lentils on a daily basis, you can reduce your risk of various types of cancer such as lung cancer, colon cancer, breast cancer, and even bowel cancer. It speeds up digestion and reduces the need for digestive bile, it also helps prevent colon cancer.

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9. Good for the bones and teeth

As you age, your bones and teeth weaken, making your skeletal system more susceptible to injuries, fractures, and diseases like osteoporosis. Therefore, it is important to maintain a healthy and balanced diet to prevent this.

Lentils are rich in a ton of minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and phosphate. These minerals are known to help develop and strengthen bones and teeth. Lentils can be the right addition to your diet for this.

10. May boost metabolism

Lentils are a good source of many vitamins, including vitamin B3, which can play an important role in boosting digestion and the nervous system. Vitamin B3 provides many other benefits including controlling cholesterol and improving lipid profile.

Uses of Lentil

The lentils can be cooked and eaten. The seeds are mainly used in soups and stews. Food dishes made from lentils can be used in various ways to cure diseases.

Side Effects of Lentils

Too much of anything can’t be good for you and the same goes for lentils. If you consume too much lentils, you may be at risk of increased bloating. You may also develop some side effects related to amino acids, and even develop kidney crises. Excessive consumption of lentils can lead to kidney failure. Excessive consumption can cause digestive problems. If a person has kidney stones, he should avoid eating lentils. If a person is taking regular medicine, he should consult his doctor before eating lentils. In some cases, due to the high potassium content of lentils, people also develop potassium and poisoning. 

Therefore, lentils should be used in the right amount considering its advantages and disadvantages as excessive use of any ingredient can harm our health. The above information is provided for general information purposes only. It is recommended to consult a doctor before using lentils in treatment. 

Conclusion

The information discussed in this article has introduced you to the health benefits of lentils. In this article, you will learn about the benefits, harms, uses, and information of lentils. I hope the information mentioned in this article will be useful to you. Thank you!

FAQ

1. Is lentil good for heart disease?

Ans: Lentil is good for your heart health. This is rich in health contributing nutrients that raise HDL levels and reduce LDL level and helps control your blood pressure.

2. How does lentil help you lose weight?

Ans: Lentil contains fiber, so they promote regular bowel movements and the development of healthy gut bacteria. This controls your appetite and prevents you from overeating. It helps in weight control.

3. Are lentils difficult to digest?

Ans: Undercooked lentil is difficult to digest and can cause stomach disorders.

4. Lentil belongs to which family of plants?

Ans: Lentil belongs to the Fabaceae family of plants.

5. What is the scientific name of a lentil?

Ans: The scientific name of lentils is Lens culinaris. 

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