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October 30, 2023
April 16, 2024
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Lentils, a versatile legume commonly used in various cuisines, offer many nutritional benefits beyond their culinary versatility. With a low glycemic index, lentils can be a valuable addition to a balanced diet, especially for individuals managing blood sugar levels. Rich in soluble and insoluble fiber, lentils aid in digestive health, contribute to prolonged satiety and stabilize blood glucose levels. Lentils are a notable source of essential nutrients, including iron, folate, and protein, making them an invaluable ingredient for those seeking a nutrient-dense, blood-sugar-friendly diet.¹

This article aims to comprehensively understand how incorporating lentils into one's dietary regimen can positively influence overall health, particularly regarding glycemic management and long-term wellness.

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Glycemic Index Table

The nutritional profile of lentils indicates that for a serving size of 100g, the carbohydrate content is approximately 20g.¹ Considering the glycemic index of lentils, it is important to note that they generally have a low glycemic index, with values typically ranging from 21 to 30.² Consequently, the glycemic load (GL) per serving is estimated at around 4 to 6. Cooking methods can affect the glycemic index, with overcooking potentially increasing it slightly.

Therefore, for a 100g serving of lentils, the calculated values are as follows:

Glycemic Index: Approximately 21 to 30 (Low)²

Carbohydrate per Serving: 20g¹

Glycemic Load per Serving: 4 to 6

Understanding the glycemic index of a food is crucial in managing blood sugar levels, as it indicates how quickly a particular food can raise blood sugar levels. A low glycemic index is associated with slower digestion and absorption, leading to a gradual and steady rise in blood sugar levels. This gradual increase helps prevent sudden spikes in blood glucose levels, which is particularly beneficial for individuals with diabetes or those striving to regulate their blood sugar levels.

It is important to note that while lentils generally have a low glycemic index, variations can occur due to cooking methods and other food components in a meal.

Glycemic Index

26

Serving Size

100g

Carbohydrate* per Serving (g)

20 g

GL per Serving

5.00

Nutritional Facts

Lentils are a nutritional powerhouse, rich in essential nutrients vital for overall health. A 100-gram serving of cooked lentils contains approximately 9 grams of protein, 8 grams of dietary fiber, and a range of vitamins and minerals, including folate, iron, and magnesium.¹ These nutritional components make lentils a valuable addition to a balanced diet, contributing to improved digestive health, sustained energy levels, and overall well-being.

The nutritional information below is for 100 g of lentils.¹

Calories

106.48 kcal

Carbs

20 g

Protein

9 g

Fiber

8 g

Cholesterol

6.39 mg

Vitamins

A (33.72 µg), B12 (0.06 µg), B6 (0.18 mg), C (8.77 mg), D (1.42 IU).

Sodium

160.06 mg

Total Fat

2.81 g

Is Lentils Good for Weight Loss?

Lentils can be a valuable component of a weight loss diet due to their high fiber and protein content and low energy density. According to a study published in the "Obesity" journal, incorporating lentils into a balanced diet can promote satiety and reduce overall calorie intake, facilitating weight loss. 

Furthermore, combining fiber and protein in lentils can help regulate blood sugar levels, preventing rapid spikes and crashes that may lead to cravings and overeating. Including lentils in a calorie-controlled diet and adopting a healthy lifestyle can contribute to sustainable weight management and improved overall health.

Is Lentils Safe for People Living with Diabetes?

Lentils are generally considered safe and beneficial for individuals with diabetes due to their low glycemic index, high fiber content, and substantial protein levels. According to research from the American Diabetes Association, incorporating lentils into a diabetic diet can help manage blood sugar levels, improve insulin sensitivity, and promote better glycemic control. 

The high fiber content of lentils can aid in slowing down the absorption of glucose, preventing rapid spikes in blood sugar levels, and contributing to enhanced satiety, which may assist in weight management—an essential factor in diabetes control. It is essential for diabetics to monitor portion sizes and overall carbohydrate intake when including lentils in their diet to maintain stable blood sugar levels.

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Allergies

Allergies to lentils are relatively uncommon but can cause significant allergic reactions in sensitive individuals. Symptoms can include hives, itching, swelling, and, in severe cases, anaphylaxis. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (ACAAI), lentil allergies are more prevalent in regions where lentils are a dietary staple, and cross-reactivity with other legumes, such as peanuts or chickpeas, may occur. It is essential for individuals with known legume allergies to be cautious when consuming lentils and to seek medical advice if any adverse reactions occur.

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FAQs

What is Glycemic Index?

The glycemic index (GI) is a measure of how quickly a carbohydrate-containing food raises blood sugar levels compared to a reference food, usually glucose. It ranks foods on a scale from 0 to 100, with higher values indicating a faster rise in blood sugar. The glycemic index (GI) scale is typically categorized as follows: Low GI [55 or less], Medium GI [56-69], High GI [70 or higher]. Foods with a high glycemic index digest rapidly and can cause dramatic fluctuations in blood glucose or glucose spikes.

What is Glycemic Load?

Glycemic load (GL) takes into account both the quality (glycemic index) and quantity (carbohydrate content) of carbohydrates in a specific serving of food. It is a measure of how much a particular food will raise blood sugar levels. GL is calculated by multiplying the glycemic index of a food by its carbohydrate content and dividing it by 100. It provides a more accurate representation of the overall impact of a food on blood sugar compared to the glycemic index alone.

Does Lentils Spike Insulin?

Lentils have a low glycemic index, which means they are digested slowly and do not cause a rapid spike in blood sugar levels. This slow digestion also means that lentils do not cause a significant spike in insulin levels. In fact, lentils are considered a good source of protein and fiber, which can help regulate blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity. Therefore, it can be concluded that lentils do not spike insulin.

Is Lentils Low Glycemic?

Yes, lentils are low glycemic as they have a low glycemic index (GI) score of 32-38. This means they are digested and absorbed slowly, causing a gradual rise in blood sugar levels. Lentils are a good source of protein, fiber, and complex carbohydrates, making them a healthy choice for people with diabetes or those looking to manage their blood sugar levels.

Can People Living with Diabetes Eat Lentils?

Yes, people living with diabetes can eat lentils as they are a good source of protein, fiber, and complex carbohydrates that can help regulate blood sugar levels. However, portion control and monitoring of blood sugar levels are important.

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References

  1. USDA FoodData Central. (2019, April 1). Food Details - Lentils, raw. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/172420/nutrients 
  2. The University of Sydney. (2023, May 1). Glycemic Index – Glycemic Index Research and GI Newshttps://glycemicindex.com/

About the author

It is a long established fact that a reader will be distracted by the readable content of a page when looking at its layout.

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About the author

Brittany Barry is a national board-certified health coach and NASM-certified personal trainer based in South Carolina.

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Please note: The Signos team is committed to sharing insightful and actionable health articles that are backed by scientific research, supported by expert reviews, and vetted by experienced health editors. The Signos blog is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you have or suspect you have a medical problem, promptly contact your professional healthcare provider. Read more about our editorial process and content philosophy here.

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