Known for their distinctive rich, peppery flavor, French green lentils are further distinguished by their slate green color with bluish black undertones, and their small size, about one-third the size of green lentils. They are also rich in antioxidant phytochemicals similar to those in blueberries and black grapes and in minerals, particularly iron and magnesium.
According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, 100 g of raw lentils (variety unspecified) provide 353 calories; the same weight of cooked lentils provides 116 kcal. Raw lentils are 8% water, 63% carbohydrates including 11% dietary fiber, 25% protein and 1% fat (table). Lentils are a rich source (20% or more of the Daily Value, DV) of numerous essential nutrients, including folate (120% DV), thiamin (76% DV), pantothenic acid (43% DV), vitamin B6 (42% DV), phosphorus (40% DV), iron (50% DV) and zinc (35%), among others (table). When lentils are cooked by boiling, protein content declines to 9% of total composition, and B vitamins and minerals decrease due to the overall water content increasing (protein itself isn’t lost).
Lentils have the second-highest ratio of protein per calorie of any legume, after soybeans.