Why You Should Be Eating More Lentils Right Now

The many benefits of lentils will have you looking for ways to include this legume in every meal.

As plant-based eating is becoming more and more popular, so are legumes such as beans, peas, and lentils. In fact, lentils have recently been named one of the next great superfoods—and for good reason! These creamy legumes are packed with nutrients that will help you feel your best. Let’s dive into this tell-all on the beloved lentil. 

French Lentil, Leek, and Mushroom Soup
Blaine Moats

What Are Lentils?

Lentils are a member of the legume family, and are classically known for their lens-shaped edible seeds. This annual crop, also known by its botanical name Lens culinaris, has a rich history spanning thousands of years. In fact, the first evidence of domesticated lentils dates back to 8000 B.C., when they were cultivated along the banks of the Euphrates River in what is now Syria. This superfood soon made its way across Europe and the Middle East, gaining popularity to eventually become the international staple it is today. 

Lentil-Ham Soup
Blaine Moats

The Benefits of Eating Lentils

It’s no wonder that lentils are such a valued food across the world when you consider the sheer number of benefits they offer.

Lentils Can Keep You Energized

Lentils are full of both protein and B vitamins, including thiamin, folate, pantothenic acid, vitamin B6, and niacin. With nearly 18 grams of protein per one cup cooked, the protein found in these legumes will provide you with the energy needed to tackle almost any task, keep you feeling satisfied, and help to build and maintain muscle and other tissues throughout the body. The B vitamins found in lentils are integral players in energy metabolism, also helping you to feel vital and energized.

Lentils Can Improve Gut Health

You’ll find no shortage of fiber in these tasty seeds, with nearly half of your daily fiber requirements (around 16 grams) in just one cup cooked. Containing both soluble and insoluble fiber, lentils will help you maintain regularity while addressing or preventing GI issues. Plus, these tiny superfoods are full of prebiotic fiber, an indigestible fiber that serves as sustenance for our healthy gut bacteria. This will benefit the overall health of our gut microbiome, which leads the charge when it comes to not only digestive health, but also the health of so many other body systems.

Lentils Can Boost Our Immune Systems

In lentils, you’ll also find zinc and plenty of plant compounds. Zinc is a mineral proven to stimulate our immune systems. Lentils are also the highest plant compound–containing legume, with especially notable amounts of flavonols, anthocyanins, and phytosterols, among many others. These phytochemicals have impressive antioxidant benefits, reducing inflammation throughout the body and helping to ward off chronic disease caused by free radicals.

dish of spaghetti with Lentils Bolognese
Jacob Fox

Lentils Can Impact Heart Health

The fiber and plant compounds found in lentils combine to make these edible seeds heart health champions, too. The soluble fiber they contain actually binds to cholesterol in the small intestine, helping the body to rid the potentially artery-clogging nutrient from the body, instead of absorbing it. One study exploring these impacts even found that lentils were linked to improved blood lipid levels. Other studies indicate that lentils can help alleviate hypertension, or high blood pressure, another key aspect of heart disease.

Lentils Can Help Regulate Blood Sugars

Lentils can also help you to better regulate your blood sugars, whether you have metabolic concerns, like diabetes, or not. This is partly due to the protein and fiber they contain, which are known to slow digestion, dulling the blood sugar response and allowing the body more time to properly metabolize the sugars. This helps to avoid a rapid spike in blood sugars that is difficult for the body to effectively digest. Research also points to this effect but through an additional mechanism, with one study finding the bioactive plant compounds found in lentils to have an antidiabetic (or blood sugar-lowering) effect.

Lentils Are Chock-Full of Minerals

Finally, lentils boast an impressive amount of minerals, including iron, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, copper, and manganese. These nutrients combine to help us form healthy red blood cells, bones, nerves, hormones, and other tissues while boosting our immune health, nutrient absorption, and fluid balance throughout the body.

Andy Lyons

How to Eat More Lentils at Home

With all this exciting information on the benefits of eating lentils comes an equally exciting amount of culinary potential. But before tying on your apron, choosing the right variety is key, as there are many different types of lentils, each with their own unique characteristics. Here are some of the most commonly used kinds:


A frequent go-to for foodies across the country, this creamy, starchy lentil lends itself perfectly to soups and stews.


The most popular kind of lentil worldwide, these brown beauties hold their shape well through cooking, making them excellent salad additions. Plus, they offer an irresistible nutty, earthy flavor.

Red and Yellow

These sweet, quick cooking lentils are the classic go-to for delicious Indian dal.

Black (or Beluga)

Having gotten their name from Beluga caviar, these dainty lentils cook up to be an excellent grain bowl base.

French Green (or Puy)

French or Puy lentils have a peppery, minerally flavor, making them a seamless addition to delicate soups. This variety will be a bit pricier than the others, as it’s exclusively grown in the town of Le Puy in Southern France, where its name also comes from.

Whichever type of lentil you choose, adding them to salads, soups, grain bowls, stews, dals, stuffings, or even using their flour for baked goods are all wonderful ways to include them in your diet. (You can even cook lentils in an Instant Pot.) In terms of how often you should be eating lentils, enjoying them a few times per week is ideal to reap all their amazing benefits.

Whether it’s the flavor or nutrition that draws you to lentils, including this emerging superfood in your routine will be sure to leave you feeling your best.

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