What does lentil look like and what it is, its types and varieties with a description

What does lentil look like and what it is, its types and varieties with a description

Undeservedly forgotten and supplanted by other legumes, lentils are returning to our menu. It contains a large number of nutrients. It is an indispensable ingredient in both European and Asian cuisine.

Another advantage of lentil grains is that they do not accumulate toxins, pesticides, nitrates and nitrites. Let's try to figure out what lentils are, what they are, in their advantages and disadvantages.

Classification and Description

Lentils are a plant from the legume family. In culture, only one of its varieties is grown - food. It is an annual herb that forms small shrubs from 30 to 75 cm in height. Complex oval-shaped, paired-pinnate leaves are arranged on short petioles.

Lentil blooms with small flowers, collected in racemose inflorescence. The buds are moth-shaped, they are white, pink, purple. After flowering, a small fruit is formed - a drooping diamond-shaped bean. It can contain from 1 to 3 seeds of a flattened shape with sharp edges. The color and size of the grains depends on the plant variety and variety.

The Volga Federal District, in particular, the Saratov Region, is the leader in the production of lentils in Russia.

Types of lentils

Lentils are distinguished by color and seed size. Now they grow green, red and specific varieties. Specific types include black, brown and French green lentils. According to the grain size, there are 2 types of crops: large-seeded and small-seeded.

Each variety has its own varieties. The most popular varieties of lentils in Russia: Anfia, Oktava, Belotserkovskaya-24, Dnepropetrovskaya-3, Novaya Luna, Petrovskaya-4/105, Tallinskaya-6, Penzenskaya-14, Petrovskaya Yubileinaya. All of them belong to the green plate variety of the culture.

Black lentils

This is the most popular and most expensive type of grain. It is called Beluga because of its external resemblance to black caviar. The fruit of black varieties of lentils is small (only 2-3 mm in diameter), glossy. The variety was bred in Canada, but it is especially popular in India. You can distinguish lentils by the color of the flowers (what it looks like - in the photo).

Black grains contain the most protein - 35%. Their color is due to the presence of a special pigment with antioxidant properties.

Red lentils

The culture with red fruits is widespread in Asian countries. It is called pink or Egyptian. The grains are free from the shell, so it quickly and strongly boiled.

In most cases, the red variety is represented by small-seeded varieties.

Green lentils

In our country, green plate-type lentils are mainly grown. It gets its name from the large, flat, plate-like seeds. Most varieties of the green variety are large-seeded.

The grains of plate cereal varieties have a high level of protein - up to 31%. The most popular green lentil is French de Puy. Green varieties can be in all shades of green, from pale olive to bright green.

Yellow lentils

This variety includes such types as the large Mexican Macachiados, a feature of which is a bright nutty taste, yellow with a red heart, yellow scaly Red chief.

Yellow lentils are formed from green grains after they have been peeled off. For this, varieties such as Aston, Richley, Laird are suitable.

Yellow grains are especially popular in India, where they are used to prepare the traditional sambhar dish. They are produced in Europe, America and other Asian countries. The yellow variety has the highest glycemic index at 30 points.

Brown lentils

Brown lentils are the most common type of food. A popular variety of brown grain is the Variegated Lentil (Pardina) variety. This is a Spanish variety. It is distinguished by a thin shell and dense consistency, practically does not boil over.

This is the only variety that needs to be soaked before boiling.

Useful properties of lentils

Food lentils contain 25-31% complete protein, which includes 21 amino acids, including 12 essential ones (threonine, arginine, tryptophan and others). Lentil protein is similar in composition to animal protein and is easily digestible, which is especially important for vegetarians.

Lentil grains are rich in vitamins and minerals, antioxidants and other biologically active substances. Due to their chemical composition, lentils have the following beneficial properties:

  1. The carbohydrates in lentils are slow, so products and recipes with them are recommended for inclusion in diet for weight loss and sports nutrition. In addition, cereal stimulates metabolic processes in the body.
  2. Grains contain a large amount of insoluble dietary fiber, which normalizes digestion, improves peristalsis and intestinal microflora. They bind toxins and promote their elimination, regulate cholesterol and glucose levels in the body. Soluble fiber is transformed into a jelly-like mass that promotes long-term satiety.
  3. Thanks to their low glycemic index, cereals help lower blood sugar levels. Therefore, lentil products and recipes are recommended for diabetics.
  4. Lentils stimulate the immune system, prevent the development of cancer.
  5. Amino acids are involved in metabolism, hematopoiesis, and immune response. Tryptophan takes part in the synthesis of the hormone of happiness - serotonin, improves the functioning of the brain and nerves. Threonine prevents fatty degeneration of the liver. Leucine is important for the health of bone, muscle and skin. It is involved in the synthesis of growth hormone. Methionine is a strong antioxidant, a stimulant of fat metabolism.
  6. The rich mineral composition of lentils has a positive effect on the entire body. Manganese is a powerful antioxidant. Magnesium activates some enzymes and accelerates tissue regeneration, improves the quality of blood circulation, and contributes to oxygenation of the blood. Potassium normalizes the work of the cardiovascular system and hematopoiesis, regulates the acid-base balance. Grains contain calcium, phosphorus, fluorine, copper, iodine, zinc, selenium, etc. 100 g of lentils contain a daily dose of molybdenum, which is involved in the exchange of purines.


Lentil kernels are a reliable source of iron necessary for normal blood formation and prevention of iron-dependent anemia, which is especially important for vegetarians, children and pregnant women.

100 g of the product contains 7.6 mg of iron. To improve the absorption of iron, grains should be consumed with vegetables and herbs.


Lentils contain the following vitamins:

  1. Thiamine (B1). Takes part in the synthesis of nucleic acids and proteins, regenerative processes. Stimulates the work of the nervous and cardiovascular systems, adrenal glands.
  2. Riboflavin (B2) is a regulator of intracellular metabolism, general metabolism and glycogen synthesis in the liver, a stimulant of the central nervous system. Normalizes the tone of blood vessels, the number of leukocytes, the work of the gastrointestinal tract. Improves the condition of the skin and vision, reduces the risk of cancer.
  3. Folic acid is especially needed by children and pregnant women. It is needed for normal bone marrow development. Prevents the development of intrauterine neural abnormalities. Prevents the spread of tumor processes and radiation sickness. A serving of lentils contains the daily intake of vitamin B9.
  4. Nicotinic acid (PP) is a participant in all types of metabolism, a stimulant of hematopoiesis, the formation of leukocytes and prothrombin. PP increases performance and lowers blood cholesterol levels.
  5. Vikasol (K) is a regulator of blood clotting, its composition and state, vascular permeability and elasticity.
  6. Tocopherol (E) is an antioxidant that is necessary for the prevention of vascular sclerosis and muscle dystrophy, regulation of hematopoiesis and reproductive functions, the functioning of the nervous and cardiovascular systems, and metabolic processes.
  7. Carotenoids are stimulants of redox reactions. Influence the level of glucose and cholesterol in the blood, start regenerative processes in tissues.


Lentil grains contain phytoestrogens that mimic the female sex hormone estrogen. These substances facilitate the course of menopause, prevent the development of tumor processes, endometriosis, uterine fibrosis and other pathologies in the female body.

Phytoestrogens have a milder effect on the body than synthetic hormone substitutes and have fewer side effects. Isoflavones are not degraded during cooking. Orange lentils are especially rich in these substances.

Calorie content of lentils

Culture refers to low-calorie, low-fat foods. The average calorie content of dry grain is 260-360 kcal, and cooked - 116-175 kcal.

The product contains both soluble and insoluble fiber and protein that make you feel fuller, so less grains are needed to cook. Thanks to this, cereals are often included in the diet for weight loss.

100 g of grains contain 21-31 g of protein, only 1.2-2 g of fat and 42-58 g of slow carbohydrates. The least amount of fat is found in red varieties of the plant.

Harm and contraindications of lentils

The grains can be used to prepare various dietary meals suitable for therapeutic nutrition. But at the same time, the product has a number of contraindications for use.

Legumes stimulate increased gas production, therefore, they are not suitable for people suffering from diseases of the gastrointestinal tract such as dysbiosis, enterocolitis, biliary dyskinesia, cholelithiasis, gastritis. A contraindication for the use of cereals is hemorrhoids.

Due to the fact that cereals contain natural purines, they should not be consumed by patients with gout, arthritis and arthrosis.

Long-term use of products from lentils containing about 30% protein can lead to impaired kidney function, the development of nephritis or urolithiasis. The oxalates contained in cereals also contribute to this.

To reduce the negative effect of cereals on the gastrointestinal tract, you can cook it after pre-soaking for 4-6 hours. Vegetables, herbs, green tea will help reduce the negative effect of cereals on digestion.

Lentil grains reduce the level of absorption of calcium, iron, zinc.

Children whose enzyme system is still imperfect, and the elderly need to limit the use of the culture. It is permissible to include it in the diet 3 times a week.

Signs of legume poisoning: vomiting, headache, yellowness of the skin, brown urine.

Cooking applications

Distinguish between small-seeded and large-seeded or plate culture. The latter is represented by seeds 5-9 mm in size in various shades of green. All other varieties (red, black, brown and others) are mainly small-seeded lentils.

Plate grits are believed to have better palatability and higher nutritional value, but each variety has its own merits.

Brown lentils have a pronounced nutty aroma and a spicy aftertaste. It is suitable for making soups. It can be added to salads, casseroles, and stews. This variety does not boil well.

Yellow grits have a neutral taste. Quickly boiled down, used for stews, soups, mashed potatoes, pates, cereals.

Green groats can have both nutty and mushroom aromas. It retains its shape well during cooking, is used in salads, as a side dish for meat and fish dishes.

Red or orange groats have a savory sweet taste and are widely used in Asian cuisine.

Black lentils have a pungent taste. Its unusual color fades a little when cooked. The variety goes well with vegetables, meat, fish and spices, spicy tomato sauce.

Groats can be used to make pies, cutlets, meatballs, medallions. Lentils are used to make a drink that resembles coffee. Lentil flour is used for baked goods (breads, pancakes, pies) and protein shakes.

How to boil lentils

The cooking time for legumes depends on the variety and color. So, green varieties are boiled for 25 to 40 minutes, brown - 30-35 minutes, red and orange - no more than 20-30 minutes.

As a result of cooking, the grains increase in volume by 3 times. Red varieties hold their shape better. Lentils can be cooked round or chopped. Chopped is used for making soups. It is brewed for only 10-15 minutes.

In order to boil the lentils for a side dish, you first have to sort and wash them. Unlike other legumes, only the beans intended for the soup are soaked to speed up the cooking time and avoid overcooking other vegetables.

Pour the cereal with cold water at a rate of 1: 2 and bring to a boil. At this stage, you can add 1 tbsp. l. olive or other vegetable oil. The grains should boil slightly under the lid ajar for the required time. Add salt to taste just before the end of cooking.

You can also cook grain in a multicooker on the "Stew", "Porridge" or "Groats" modes.

Red varieties can be cooked in the microwave. For this, 0.5 tbsp. pour hot water so that it covers the grains, salt to taste and put in the microwave oven on the "Vegetables" mode or simply on the most powerful mode for 7-10 minutes.

Lentils go well with rosemary, bay leaves, sage, pepper, soy sauce.

How to store lentils

Lentil seeds can be stored for a long time. Over time, they dry out, darken and become harder. Then they have to cook longer, but this does not affect the nutritional value.

The optimal shelf life is 10-12 months. Lentil grains turn pale when stored in the light, so it is better to keep them in a dark place or in opaque containers, dark glass jars. A cloth bag or cardboard box is suitable for grains. In sealed containers and plastic bags, if legumes are stored in storage with a moisture content of more than 14%, condensation may form.

Store grain in a cool dry place with good ventilation. In a damp room, legumes will be covered with bloom, may begin to rot, oxidize, and acquire an unpleasant odor. The same happens in a well-heated room or near heat sources.

Cooked lentils can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Boiled grain can be stored in the freezer for 6 months. At the same time, the nutritional value will decrease and the consistency will change, while the taste will remain the same.

Watch the video: Lentil Curry - the most amazing EASY Lentil Recipe in the world!!!