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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.
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.
*RDA=recommended daily allowance
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This page was last updated on 10/30/2017.