What is the way to eat lentils?

What are lentils?

Lentils are small, lens-shaped legumes that come in many colors like green, brown, black, red, and yellow. They are rich in protein, fiber, and various vitamins and minerals. Lentils have one of the highest protein contents among legumes and are a great meat alternative. Some common types of lentils include brown, green, black, red, yellow, beluga, and Puy lentils. They have a mild, earthy flavor and soft texture when cooked.

What are the health benefits of eating lentils?

Lentils are packed with nutritional value and offer various health benefits:

  • High in protein – One cup of cooked lentils provides about 18 grams of protein, making them an excellent vegetarian and vegan protein source.
  • High in fiber – Lentils contain soluble and insoluble fiber that promotes gut health and helps reduce cholesterol.
  • Heart healthy – The fiber, potassium, folate, and antioxidants in lentils support heart health.
  • Aid in weight loss – They are low in calories and high in fiber which helps increase satiety.
  • Help control blood sugar – Lentils have a low glycemic index which helps prevent spikes in blood sugar.
  • Rich in iron – Lentils are a great source of iron especially important for those at risk of anemia.
  • Improve digestion – The high fiber content promotes regularity, prevents constipation and improves gut health.

Including lentils as part of a healthy diet can provide many vital nutrients and prevent various chronic illnesses.

How to select lentils?

When buying lentils, look for ones that are uniform in size and color with no cracks or blemishes. Avoid lentils that are broken or look shriveled.

  • Brown lentils – These are the most common variety. They hold their shape well when cooked and have a mild, earthy flavor.
  • Green lentils – Also called French lentils, they have a peppery flavor and firm texture.
  • Red and yellow lentils – Both split easily and turn golden, soft, and mushy when cooked.
  • Beluga lentils – These small, black lentils resemble caviar when cooked. They have a rich, earthy flavor.
  • Puy lentils – They are small, dark green lentils that hold their shape well when cooked. Puy lentils have a robust, peppery flavor.

Choose lentils based on the texture and flavor you prefer. Store dry, uncooked lentils in an airtight container in a cool, dry place for up to 12 months. Cooked lentils last 3-5 days refrigerated.

How to cook lentils?

Cooking lentils is easy, here are some tips for cooking perfect lentils every time:

  • Wash lentils – Rinse dry lentils under running water to remove any dust or debris.
  • Remove stones – Pick through the lentils and discard any stones or damaged lentils.
  • Toast for more flavor – For more flavor, toast the dry lentils in a pan for 2-3 minutes before boiling.
  • Use enough water – Lentils absorb a lot of water as they cook. Use at least 3 cups water for every 1 cup lentils.
  • Partially cover and simmer – Bring lentils and water to a boil then reduce heat, cover partially and simmer until tender.
  • Add aromatics – Add herbs, garlic, onions, spices or acid at the end to flavor cooked lentils.
  • Check packaging – Follow package instructions for cooking times as they vary for each type.
  • Add salt at the end – Add salt only at the end or it can toughen the lentil skins.
  • Stir occasionally – Stir a few times as they cook to ensure even cooking.

Different types of lentils have varying cooking times. Green and brown lentils take 15-20 minutes while red and yellow lentils take 5-10 minutes to become tender. Adding a pinch of baking soda can help soften lentils faster.

How to eat lentils?

Lentils are incredibly versatile. Here are some delicious ways to eat lentils:

Soups and Stews

Lentils are perfect for hearty vegetarian soups and stews. Add cooked lentils and vegetables like carrots, potatoes and tomatoes. Season with herbs and spices like cumin, parsley, paprika and thyme.


Cooked lentils can be easily tossed into salads for added protein. Pair them with mixed greens, nuts, feta and balsamic dressing for a hearty salad.

Snacks and Sides

Split red lentils seasoned with garlic and spices make for crunchy baked lentil bites. You can also roast spiced lentils or use in rice pilafs and veggie bakes as a side.


Blend cooked lentils with tahini, garlic and lemon juice for a delicious, high-protein spread for sandwiches and wraps.

Curries and Dals

Lentils are a staple ingredient in Indian dals and curries. Combine with aromatics like cumin, garam masala, chiles and cook until thick and creamy.

Tacos and Burgers

Use cooked lentils as a vegetarian substitute for meat in tacos, burritos or burgers. Mash them well and combine with breadcrumbs, eggs and spices.

The soft, creamy texture and mild flavor of lentils allows them to be used to make soups, salads, sides, snacks and even as a veggie meat substitute. Get creative with different seasonings and cuisines to enjoy lentils in many delicious ways.

Potential benefits of adding lentils as a staple in your diet

Making lentils a dietary staple has many excellent health benefits:

  • Improved gut health – The high fiber content in lentils promotes growth of good gut bacteria and improves digestion.
  • Lower cholesterol – Soluble fiber in lentils can help lower LDL or “bad” cholesterol levels.
  • Stabilized blood sugar – The complex carbs and fiber provide steady energy and prevent spikes in blood sugar.
  • Heart health – Lentils help reduce risk of heart disease due to the folate, magnesium, potassium and fiber they contain.
  • Aids weight loss – They are a low calorie, high protein food that help suppress appetite and prolong satiety.
  • Prevents anemia – Lentils provide an excellent plant-based source of iron which is vital in preventing anemia.
  • Promotes muscle growth – The leucine in lentils helps promote muscle growth and recovery after exercise.
  • Reduced inflammation – Phytonutrients in lentils provide antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.
  • Cancer prevention – Certain compounds in lentils may help lower risk factors associated with cancer.

Replacing meat with lentils even a few days a week can greatly improve cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar and reduce risks for chronic diseases. Their beneficial effects on the gut microbiome also promote better overall health.

Potential risks or downsides of eating too many lentils

Lentils are incredibly nutritious. However, some potential downsides of overconsumption exist:

  • Digestive issues – Eating too many lentils can lead to gas, bloating and diarrhea in some due to the high fiber content.
  • Kidney stones – People prone to kidney stones should limit high-oxalate foods like lentils which may increase oxalate levels.
  • Medication interactions – The folate in lentils can interact with certain anticonvulsant medications. Consult your doctor in such cases.
  • Allergies – Lentils contain lectins which some people can be sensitive or allergic to, causing symptoms like nausea or hives.
  • Phytic acid content – Lentils contain phytic acid which may inhibit absorption of some minerals like iron, zinc and calcium.
  • Weight gain – Although low calorie, eating too many lentils while maintaining the same activity level can lead to excess calorie intake and weight gain.
  • Blood sugar spikes – Some types like red lentils have a higher glycemic index which may cause blood sugar spikes in diabetics.

To prevent such issues, consume lentils in moderation as part of a balanced diet instead of overeating. Introduce them gradually to your diet to assess tolerance. Overall, they provide immense nutritional benefits safely when eaten as a regular part of the diet.

Tips for incorporating more lentils into your diet

Here are some easy ways to start eating more lentils:

  • Make simple lentil soups like dal or lentil and tomato soup for a filling, nutritious meal.
  • Use lentils to make veggie burgers, meatballs or meatloaf for a healthy, satisfying plant-based dish.
  • Toss cooked lentils into your regular salad for extra protein, fiber and nutrients.
  • Blend cooked lentils to make creamy lentil based dips and spreads.
  • Keep a batch of cooked lentils in the fridge to add quickly to pasta sauces, tacos, casseroles etc.
  • Substitute half the ground meat in recipes like chili, bolognese sauce or lasagne with cooked lentils.
  • Make roasted spiced lentils as a protein packed side dish for meals.
  • Use lentil flour to make protein bars, pancakes or baked goods.
  • Sprout lentils to add microgreens to sandwiches, salads and rice bowls.
  • Add lentils to rice or quinoa pilafs for a complete vegetarian protein meal.

Start by swapping lentils for meat once a week, then increase to 2-3 times per week. Adding them to soups, salads, rice, pasta and snacks makes it easy to include lentils into any diet. Their versatility allows enjoying lentils in many appetizing ways. The high nutritional value makes them one of the healthiest foods to add as a dietary staple.


Lentils are an affordable, nutrient-dense food that offer many health benefits like improved cholesterol, blood sugar control, gut health and weight management. They contain high levels of protein, fiber, folate, magnesium and iron making them a nutritious plant-based protein source. Lentils are extremely versatile and can be used to make soups, stews, salads, snacks, sides and even veggie burgers or meatloaf. While they provide immense nutrition, excessive consumption can cause digestive issues, kidney stones and medication interactions in some cases. Eating lentils 2-3 times a week as part of a balanced diet provides the best health benefits. Incorporating lentils regularly aids in the prevention of chronic illnesses and conditions like heart disease, diabetes, cancer and anemia. Their beneficial effects on the gut microbiome also promote overall health. Adding more lentils to your diet is a healthy, tasty way to boost nutrition.

Leave a Comment