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This article is part of a larger article titled "100+ Healthiest Foods On Planet Earth."  Read it here.

Lentils Nutritional Information (per 100g)

Water: 8.3 g
Calories: 352 kcal
Protein: 24.6 g
Carbohydrate: 63.4 g
Dietary fiber: 10.7 g
Sugars: 2 g
Fat: 1.1 g
Saturated fat: 0.2 g
Monounsaturated fat: 0.2 g
Polyunsaturated fat: 0.5 g
Vitamin C: 4.5 mg
Vitamin B1: 0.9 mg
Vitamin B2: 0.2 mg
Vitamin B3: 2.6 mg
Vitamin B6: 0.5 mg
Vitamin B9: 479 μg
Vitamin A: 2 μg
Vitamin E: 0.5 mg
Vitamin K: 5 μg
Calcium: 35 mg
Iron: 6.5 mg
Magnesium: 47 mg
Phosphorus: 281 mg
Potassium: 677 mg
Sodium: 6 mg
Zinc: 3.3 mg

Lentils are an edible pulse, native to Western Asia, and one of the most common sources of vegetarian protein worldwide. Eaten on an often daily basis as dhal in India, lentils are also used in a wide variety of vegetarian curries and sauces as a pulse or as a thickener. A staple of that most basic of dishes, lentils and rice, the humble lentil makes up for its gentle flavour by being a nutritional powerhouse. With a fantastic nutritional profile and a whole host of scientifically validated benefits for cardiovascular disease and cancer, the lentil is a must for almost any balanced diet.

Nutritionally, the lentil is incredibly low fat and high protein. 100g of raw lentils is 353 calories, but for that your get 26g of protein, or 52% of your Daily Value (DV) of protein. On top of that, lentils are incredibly high in fibre (more on the benefits of that below), containing 120% DV, which is great for digestion; and a whole host of essential minerals. 100g of lentils contains 41% DV of magnesium, 30 % DV of iron and 27% DV of potassium, all minerals that common western diets, high in saturated fats and sugars, and higher in ‘empty calories’ are deficient in. All of these deficiencies, even if minor, can pose threats to your health if not taken seriously enough.

Lentils have more benefits that just keeping you away from mineral deficiencies, however. Lentils contain compounds called lectins, a group of proteins unique to plants that are being researched for possible cancer treatments. On top of that, lentils have benefits for the prevention of heart disease (the West’s biggest killer): one study showed that lentils reduced the likelihood of LDL oxidation or atherosclerosis, both huge risk factors for the development of coronary heart disease.

In addition, high fibre and high legume diets in general have been shown to be good for cardiovascular disease. High fibre diets have been shown to be associated with a lower risk of heart disease, and diets high in legume consumption have been shown to have an extremely reduced risk of heart disease as compared to a control. Finally, there is some association that has been suggested between high fibre diet and the incidence of Type 2 diabetes.