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pea-like seeds valued for their nutritional content

The lentil, Lens ensculenta, is a member of the pea family (Leguminosae) native to central and western Asia and southern Europe. The plant, which grows 12-20 inches in height, bears long fruits, or pods, containing one or two seeds each. Those seeds are shaped like a lens, and the word "lens" comes from the Latin name for the plant.


lentil plants before flowering

Lentils have been cultivated for their nutritious seeds since ancient times. They are very rich in protein and carbohydrates and are usually used in casseroles, salads, and soups. They are also good for diets, with only 229 calories per 1-ounce serving. Lentils come in a variety of colors, with green, black and orange being the most common; all varieties are equal in nutritional value, but there are slight variations in taste and cooking texture. India is the world's leading producer of lentils, followed by Turkey, Canada, China and Syria. In the United States, most lentil production is confined to eastern Washington and northern Idaho.

Nutritional Value

Nutrient % of RDA*
Copper 25
Fiber 62.5
Folate 89.5
Iron 36.6
Manganese 49
Molybdenum 198
Phosphorus 35.6
Potassium 20.8
Protein 35.7
Vitamin B1 22

*RDA=recommended daily allowance

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The Robinson Library >> Agriculture >> Plant Culture >> Vegetables

This page was last updated on 10/30/2017.