Legumes are a part of the family Fabaceae (or Leguminosae). They may either be seeds or fruit of the plant. The seeds are known as pulses. Beans and lentils both come under pulses.
Beans vs Lentils
The difference between beans and lentils is that lentils are smaller and lens-shaped, while beans are kidney-shaped and bigger.
Beans and lentils are one of the best options to have a balanced diet. They give us protein, carbohydrates and fibre in high content. They also contain iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc and other vitamins and minerals.
Beans and lentils also help alleviate constipation and reduce blood cholesterol levels, which helps prevent heart diseases. Beans and lentils can be differentiated by their size and shape.
Comparison Table Between Beans and Lentils
|Parameters of Comparison||Beans||Lentils|
|Shape and Size||Beans are kidney-shaped or oval and comparatively bigger.||Lentils are lens-shaped and small.|
|Types||There are various varieties of beans having different shapes and sizes.||There are several types of lentils. Red, brown and green are the most popular variety.|
|Fibre Content||Contains less fibre.||Contains more fibre.|
|Carbohydrates||Contains more carbohydrates.||Contains fewer carbohydrates.|
|Other nutritional values||All beans except soybean contain less fat. They all have more protein and omega 3,6 fatty acid content.||Lentils contain less fat, more protein and no cholesterol.|
|Cooking Time||Beans have to be soaked overnight before cooking and take a long time to cook.||Lentils do not have to be pre-soaked and take a lot less time to cook.|
What are Beans?
Beans are legumes that are used as food. They usually grow in pods. They are grown in warm regions as the crop requires a slightly higher temperature to thrive. The crops do not require extra fertilizers as their roots form a symbiotic relationship with nitrogen-fixing bacteria that provide them with nutrition.
There are around 40,000 varieties of beans around the world, but only a few varieties are mass-produced for consumption. Chickpea, soybean, kidney bean and peanuts are a few examples of beans. Myanmar is the largest producer of beans in the world followed by India.
Beans are also very cheap and easily available in the market. They can be cooked by various methods and are a part of several cuisines around the world. Consumption of beans helps with weight loss, controlling diabetes and improving heart health.
While beans contain protein, folate and iron, they also contain a higher amount of carbohydrates than lentils. Beans also have lower fat and sodium content.
What are Lentils?
Lentils are also a type of edible legumes. They are small and lens-shaped. The crops are about 40 cm tall and the seeds grow in pods. Each pod contains two seeds.
Lentils come in various forms, they can be split or whole and shelled or unshelled. They exhibit a range of colours like green, purple, tan, grey, brown and black. The largest producer of lentils in the world is Canada, followed by India. In India, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh produce the largest amount of lentils.
Lentils are a staple food in India and are known as dal. Dal is split and unshelled lentils that are prepared as soupy gravies. It is one of the oldest dishes in the country and every region makes it differently.
The crop is planted in winter and spring, but the crops bloom in spring or summer. If lentils are alternated in a field while growing crops, the soil remains healthy and fertile.
Main Differences Between Beans and Lentils
- While beans can be kidney or oval-shaped and bigger, lentils are lens-shaped and smaller in size.
- Beans contain less fibre than lentils.
- There are more carbohydrates in beans than lentils.
- Beans contain more fats than lentils and are rich in proteins and omega 3,6 fatty acids. Lentils have more protein content and contain no cholesterol.
- Beans take a long time to cook and have to be soaked before cooking, while lentils take less time to cook.
Beans and lentils are simple and easily available foods. They are also light on the pocket and can be used in a variety of ways. They are perfect examples of how healthy and nutritious food can be tasty too. They are a great option for vegans.
People who do not eat meat benefit greatly from eating beans and lentils. They form a substitute for the proteins that meat, fish or dairy can provide. Due to their texture, legumes also work as meat substitutes. They also contain iron which is necessary for the body.
Lentils and beans are usually grouped as they both belong to the legume family. They also have other similarities like they both grow in pods, are seeds and have similar nutritional content. Legumes are eaten all around the world but the biggest consumers are Mexico, India and the Middle East.
Legumes are a sustainable crop as they release up to seven times fewer greenhouse gases as compared to other crops. Their carbon footprint is minimal and they also fix nitrogen in the soil which keeps it healthy.
The earthy taste of beans and lentils make them susceptible to absorbing flavors of other spices they are cooked with and hence make a versatile dish.