Are lentils healthy? That’s what I found myself asking a few weeks ago and ended up diving deep into the rabbit hole until I’d discovered all sorts of great facts, most of which I don’t remember anymore. That said, what I do recall is the good stuff, so I figured I’d share it with you since it’s my turn to post this week. Plus, I have a great new recipe that MUST be shared, so it all came together very nicely for this post.
Why Are Lentils Healthy?
Last year at this time, I still thought that lentils and beans were the same thing. Turns out that they’re not. They’re legumes, but they aren’t the same. They’re their own category, and lentils are healthy for you in their own unique ways.
If you want the answer to my “are lentils healthy?” question, it’s definitely a “yes”. But there’s so much more to why they are healthy. Plus, they’re super cheap, very easy to make, you can buy them dry and store them for eons and they’ll still be good (so buy in bulk or shop sales!), and it doesn’t take forever to rehydrate split lentils like it does with beans.
They have quite a neutral flavor, making it easy to throw them into pretty much any recipe. You can even stir them into a morning oatmeal to bump up the protein and only slightly change the texture, if at all!
Healthy Nutrition in Lentils
You’re going to be shocked at how healthy lentils are! They’re packed with plant protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals. Here’s about what’s in a cup of cooked lentils (just about 200 grams, according to my kitchen scale).
- 230 calories
- 18 grams protein (36 percent of your daily need!)
- 1 gram fat
- 40 grams carbohydrates
- 16 grams fiber
- 7 grams iron
- 71 grams magnesium
- 731 grams potassium
- 3 milligrams zinc
- 358 grams folate
Bonus Lentil Taco Recipe!
I created this so that I could have a new meatless meal recipe but now I just make it because it tastes incredible and fills me up. It’s a great one for showing off with friends and family, too!
- 1 cup dried lentils, rinsed (I prefer whole for this recipe, but split will do in a pinch, though the texture isn’t quite as nice)
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon canola oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 cups low-sodium vegetable stock (or chicken stock)
- 12 taco shells (I like the crunchy ones, but tortillas will also work)
- 1 cup salsa
- 1 cup shredded lettuce
- 1 cup tomatoes, diced
- 1 cup reduced fat cheddar cheese (I like older cheese for a stronger taste)
- 6 tablespoons sour cream (reduced fat works, but I like to splurge and just go for the regular kind)
- Heat oil in a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Sautee the onion and garlic until tender, then add the lentils and seasonings, stirring the whole time for about a minute. Add the broth and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for around a half hour or until the lentils are tender.
- Uncover and cook for another 5-8 minutes until the mixture thickens. Stir occasionally. Give the lentils a gentle mashing with the spoon or spatula as you stir in the salsa. Cook until it’s all heated, then serve on the taco shells and top with the rest of the ingredients.
Enjoy! Aren’t you thrilled that lentils are healthy?!