Skip to Content

Are black lentils good for you?

Black lentils, also known as beluga lentils, are small, black legumes that are packed with nutrients and offer many potential health benefits. Here is a detailed look at black lentils, their nutrition, health effects, and how to add them to your diet.

What are black lentils?

Black lentils, scientifically known as Lens culinaris, are a small, round legume that is a member of the pulse family. They are commonly grown throughout India, Nepal, and Pakistan and have been used in Middle Eastern and Indian cuisines for thousands of years. Unlike many other varieties of lentils that come in shades of green, red, or yellow, black lentils get their distinctive color from their seed coat. When cooked, black lentils retain their dark black hue and have a deep, earthy flavor.

Nutrition facts

Here is an overview of the nutrition content in one cup (198g) of cooked black lentils:

Calories 230
Protein 18g
Carbohydrates 40g
Fiber 16g
Fat 1g
Vitamin A 2% DV
Vitamin C 4% DV
Calcium 4% DV
Iron 37% DV
Potassium 28% DV

As you can see, black lentils are packed with protein, fiber, and key micronutrients like iron, potassium, and several B vitamins. They are low in fat and have no cholesterol. The high protein and fiber content makes them particularly beneficial for health.

Benefits of black lentils

Here is a closer look at some of the top health benefits associated with eating black lentils:

High in protein

Black lentils are an excellent source of plant-based protein, providing around 18 grams per cooked cup. For reference, that’s about the same amount of protein found in 3 ounces of meat. Getting enough protein is vital to help promote muscle growth and repair, support metabolic function, and keep you feeling full between meals. Plus, pairing plant-based proteins like lentils with grains can provide all the essential amino acids your body needs.

Rich in fiber

Fiber is important for digestive health, cholesterol levels, blood sugar control, and more. Black lentils are packed with fiber, containing a whopping 16 grams per cooked cup. In particular, they’re high in soluble fiber, which can help slow digestion, promote satiety, and stabilize blood sugar levels after meals. Soluble fiber may also help lower cholesterol levels to reduce heart disease risk.

Support heart health

The fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants found in black lentils could help support better heart health in several ways. Studies show that getting more fiber from legumes is associated with lower levels of heart disease risk factors like cholesterol and triglycerides. The potassium in black lentils may also help decrease blood pressure levels to reduce strain on your cardiovascular system.

Manage blood sugar

With a low glycemic index and high content of fiber and protein, black lentils may aid blood sugar control, especially when paired with healthy carb sources like vegetables or whole grains. Multiple studies have found that swapping higher-glycemic foods for low-glycemic foods like lentils can promote better long-term blood sugar regulation.

Enhance digestive health

The soluble fiber in black lentils can help slow digestion and promote regularity. Getting enough fiber is key for digestive health, supporting healthy gut bacteria, reducing constipation, and preventing conditions like diverticulitis. Additionally, the nutrients and antioxidants in lentils may help reduce inflammation in the gut.

Support weight control

Black lentils can support a healthy weight in multiple ways. They are low in calories yet high in fiber and protein to help control hunger and appetite. Replacing refined carbs with fiber- and protein-rich lentils has been shown to aid weight loss. Their low glycemic index can also help regulate blood sugar and insulin levels, which is key for appetite control.

Reduce inflammation

Chronic inflammation is at the root of many diseases. Certain nutrients and plant compounds found in black lentils, including fiber, antioxidants, and polyphenols, have anti-inflammatory effects in the body and can help reduce inflammation. Less inflammation translates to lower risk of chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.

Downsides of black lentils

Black lentils are highly nutritious, and there are minimal adverse effects associated with enjoying them as part of a balanced diet. However, here are a few things to keep in mind:

– Like other legumes, black lentils contain antinutrients like phytic acid, which can impair mineral absorption. Soaking, sprouting, and fermenting lentils can help reduce this effect.

– They contain small amounts of purines. Those with gout or kidney stones may want to limit intake.

– Bloating and gas are possible side effects, especially if increasing fiber intake too quickly. Introduce lentils gradually and drink plenty of water to help minimize digestive issues.

– Lentils contain goitrogens, compounds that may impact thyroid function if consumed excessively. Variety in the diet helps limit this risk. Those with thyroid issues should moderate portions.

Overall, black lentils can be enjoyed with minimal risks for most people as part of a healthy, well-rounded diet. Those with digestive issues, gout, or thyroid problems may want to check with their healthcare provider about whether any special precautions are needed.

How to cook black lentils

Black lentils require cooking before they can be eaten. Here are a few simple methods for cooking them:

– **Stovetop:** Rinse lentils, then combine 3 cups water per 1 cup dry lentils in a pot. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 20-25 minutes until lentils are tender. Drain any excess water.

– **Rice cooker:** Rinse lentils, then add to the rice cooker along with water per manufacturer’s instructions. Cook using normal rice setting.

– **Slow cooker:** Rinse lentils, combine with water in slow cooker, and cook on high 4-6 hours or low 7-9 hours. Check occasionally and add more water if needed.

– **Instant Pot:** Rinse lentils, add to Instant Pot with water, and pressure cook on high for 8-10 minutes. Allow 10-15 minutes for natural pressure release.

Once cooked, black lentils can be incorporated into soups, stews, salads, veggie burgers, pasta dishes, and more. They require less cooking time than many other dried beans and legumes.

Ways to eat more black lentils

Here are some simple ideas for adding more black lentils into your diet:

– Make lettuce or collard green wraps with cooked lentils, roasted veggies, avocado and hummus.

– Toss cooked lentils with roasted sweet potatoes, kale, and tahini-maple dressing for a nutrient-packed salad.

– Mix cooked lentils into marinara sauce and serve over whole wheat pasta.

– Make lentil tacos by stirring cooked lentils into cooked ground beef or turkey.

– Swap half the ground meat for cooked lentils in recipes for burgers, meatballs, or meatloaf.

– Prepare crunchy lentil-walnut veggie patties and serve in sandwiches or Buddha bowls.

– Make hearty lentil soup loaded with onions, carrots, celery, and spinach.

– Roast spiced lentils and chickpeas for a crunchy high-protein snack.

– Stir lentils into your favorite vegetables, grains, and herbs to make nourishing Buddha bowls.

– Blend cooked lentils with spices and baking powder to make savory lentil crackers.

Whole food recipes with black lentils

Here are some nutritious whole food recipes that incorporate black lentils:

Lentil stuffed peppers

– 1 cup uncooked black lentils
– 4 large bell peppers, tops cut off
– 1 cup brown rice, cooked
– 1 onion, diced
– 3 garlic cloves, minced
– 1 cup tomato sauce or diced tomatoes
– 1 tsp dried oregano
– Salt and pepper to taste
– 1/2 cup crumbled feta or goat cheese (optional)

1. Cook black lentils according to package directions. Drain any excess water.
2. Preheat oven to 375°F. Cut tops off bell peppers and remove seeds. Place peppers cut-side up in a baking dish.
3. In a large bowl, combine cooked lentils, rice, onions, garlic, tomato sauce, and oregano. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Fill each pepper with the lentil mixture, packing it in tightly. Top with a sprinkle of feta or goat cheese if desired.
5. Bake for 25-30 minutes until peppers are tender. Serve warm.

Mediterranean lentil salad

Salad Ingredients:
– 1 cup uncooked black lentils
– 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
– 1 cucumber, diced
– 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
– 1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted and halved
– 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

Dressing Ingredients:
– 3 tbsp olive oil
– 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
– 1 garlic clove, minced
– 1 tsp dried oregano
– Salt and pepper to taste

1. Cook lentils according to package directions. Drain and transfer to a large bowl.
2. Add tomatoes, cucumber, onion, olives, and feta cheese.
3. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, vinegar, garlic, oregano, salt, and pepper.
4. Pour dressing over salad and toss to coat. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Hearty lentil mushroom soup

– 1 cup dried black lentils, rinsed
– 1 onion, diced
– 3 carrots, peeled and sliced
– 8 oz. mushrooms, sliced
– 4 cups vegetable broth
– 2 bay leaves
– 1 tsp dried thyme
– Salt and pepper to taste

– 2 tbsp olive oil
– 1⁄4 cup raw pumpkin seeds
– Fresh thyme leaves

1. In a large pot over medium heat, cook onions and carrots in olive oil for 5 minutes.
2. Add mushrooms and cook 5 more minutes.
3. Add lentils, broth, bay leaves, and thyme. Bring to a boil.
4. Reduce heat and simmer for 25-30 minutes until lentils are tender.
5. Remove bay leaves. Season with salt and pepper.
6. Ladle soup into bowls and top with pumpkin seeds, fresh thyme, and a drizzle of olive oil.


Black lentils are loaded with protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Adding them to your diet can benefit digestion, heart health, blood sugar control, weight management, and inflammation levels. They make an excellent plant-based protein source and can be incorporated into soups, salads, rice dishes, tacos, veggie burgers, and more. While most people can safely consume black lentils as part of a healthy diet, those with thyroid issues or gout should moderate their portions. Overall, nutritious black lentils can be a tasty addition to a balanced diet and provide a variety of potential health bonuses.