Lentils (red, green, yellow…)

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Lentils (red, green, yellow…)

This topic contains 7 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  nellywilk 1 year, 5 months ago.

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  • Hello everyone

    Lately I substituted rice with lentils. I like the flavour, but get confused about the amount of calories they have.

    My internet search shows varying calorie amounts:

    yellow lentils (100g) 174 kcal or 354 kcal
    green lentils (100g) 113 kcal or 329 kcal
    red lentils (100g) 97 kcal or 335 kcal

    Do you think that the huge differences are due to cooked or raw measures?

    The other question I keep thinking about: Are lentils that much better than rice with regard to insulin spikes? I understood that they raise the insulin level very slow and thus are the better alternative.

    (Hope this topic wasn’t discussed on this forum.)


    I know lentils as red, green (also called puy or French) and brown – never heard of yellow lentils. (I’ve always thought of the yellow ones as a yellow split pea – that’s what my local markets label them as.)

    All of these lentils are between 1260-1400 kilojoules per 100g dry weight. Cooked lentils have about 25% of those kilojoules per 100g. This must mean that the values you have are all cooked weight. (It also means that if you want 100g cooked lentils, then you need to cook approx 25g of dry lentils.)

    As I am only cooking for myself, I prefer to use dry weight as it enables me to cook & eat the correct quantity more easily. I think if you are cooking a larger amount to feed others in addition to yourself then measuring them when cooked would probably be easier.

    There are differences in kilojoules depending on the colour and variety of lentil.
    The following values come from the nutrition panel on the lentils that I have bought, these are all dry weight values per 100g:
    Brown lentils – 1400kj(333 calories)- 26g protein, 40g carb, 26g fibre
    Red lentils – 1390kj (331 calories) – 25g protein, 59g carb 16g fibre
    French Green lentils – 1260kj (300calories) – 24g protein, 59g carb, 23g fibre

    When it comes to texture I find brown and green lentils are interchangeable as they hold their shape when cooked. Red lentils dissolve into mush which is excellent for thickening soups, curries, chillis & stews.

    I don’t know how rice or lentils perform as suitable foods for diabetics. I don’t use rice because it’s such a lousy source of fibre and I need a high fibre diet to manage IBS symptoms and I expect the gains that I do eat to be a high fibre source. (If a grain can’t give at least 10g fibre per 100g it doesn’t get a place on my plate.)

    If you want to compare the nutrition in rice with the values above for lentils I’ve provided the same info for 100g dry rice:
    White basmati rice – 1469kj (342 calories) – 6g protein, 79g carb, 1g fibre
    Brown rice – 1500kj (349 calories) – 7g protein, 77g carb, 5g fibre

    Lentils are legumes not grains, so although you can substitute them for rice, they aren’t a like-for-like substitute (much tastier though). Some other options to consider, if you are looking for grain alternative to rice:
    Quinoa – 1435kj (342 calories) – 14g protein – 68g carb, 10g fibre
    Pearl barley – 1360kj (324 calories) – 8g protein, 50g carb, 12g fibre
    Bulgur – 1349kj (321 calories) – 10g protein, 60g carb, 12g fibre
    Freekah – 1483kj (353 calories) – 15g protein 61g carb 13g fibre

    (Freekah, is an immature green wheat that has been dry roasted. Because it is picked when immature, it has a much higher protein content than ripe wheat. It takes about the same amount of time to cook as brown rice – I get from my local health food store.) I find pearl barley or quinoa are good substitutes for arborio rice in risotto and freekah and bulgur are good substitutes for rice in salads.

    I hope this helps. To check the effect on diabetes I think you need to look at either a glycemic index or the diabetic index – I don’t have those tools as I don’t have insulin resistance, but I think they are both published on the internet.

    What big changes in calorie amounts!

    I know yellow lentils because I eat a lot of Indian food. They are all split: chana dal (a small chickpea), moong dal (from the mung bean) and toor dal (which I think is the pigeon pea) and then there is the yellow split pea from field peas that we use in the west. 😉

    My computer says 230 for a cup of cooked lentils!

    I wonder if the differences are because of the difference from dry to cooked? they swell to about three times their size.

    Re insulin spikes, the higher fibre means they are lower GI http://nutritionfacts.org/2014/03/11/why-you-should-eat-more-beans/

    PS If you really get into lentils and beans, check out this recipe thread https://thefastdiet.co.uk/forums/topic/beans-and-lentils-recipes-tips-and-information/

    The difference is dry and cooked weight.

    I use the calorie, carb and fat bible which gives dry and cooked weights/calories.

    Salllly, just notice that there is another forum thread called “Food Insulin Index”, which you might find a useful read.

    Thank you all for the answers.

    @ljoyce: thanks for your explanations. I said I use lentils as substitute for rice, but what I meant is I eat them instead of rice. I was looking for an alternative to high carb rice and found lentils to be equally satisfying. The insuline reaction interested me to find out how lentils will effect my body and my hunger feelings.
    I will check out the other thread aswell.

    @cinque: The thread you started on recipes is great.

    @amazon: I think you are right. Unfortunately not all web pages state this important detail.

    That’s why I don’t used the internet for information I need to rely on 🙂

    @amazon: The problem is that you often also don’t know, if information outside of the internet is reliable. However I believe that with a bit of brain work one can see, if information is potentially wrong and then you need to research/inquire further. Actually also a forum is not really a reliable source of information, but it is extremely helpful.

    With regard to calories I realised that most web pages don’t state the difference between cooked and raw weights or calories. Also the App MFP, which I use, is not helpful in that matter. I feel the best source is the data on the food package itself. But even that is not always the solution, e.g. veggies don’t have any packaging.

    Exactly! And that is very and very confusing!

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