Lentils have a rich history of sustaining mankind through the centuries, and they are indeed among the oldest legumes known to civilized man. In fact, lentils are even mentioned in the book of Genesis in the famous story of Esau selling his birthright for a bowl of Jacob’s lentil stew. There are also quite a few references to masha (black gram lentils) in ancient Indian medicinal writings.
Lentils are one of nature’s most health-promoting foods, as they can help support cardiovascular health, digestive health, as well as balance hormones, boost energy, and much more. Lentils also contain antioxidants that fight aging and cell damage. Many different types of lentils are cultivated around the world, and while all lentils are known to be nutritious and full of health benefits, we would like to introduce you to one that outshines the others in terms of nutritional content and health benefits. Which one, you may ask? Of course we’re referring to black gram, the ancient superfood from India!
Common Lentil Types
There are a number of basic types of lentils that you are likely to find on the shelves of your local ethnic market, and each is unique in color, taste, and texture. Let’s go over a brief description of some of the main types.
Probably the most common of the five, this lentil is readily available at most grocery stores, easily recognizable by its light brown disc-shaped appearance. One reason for their popularity may be the short time that it takes for them to cook (only 20 minutes or so). Once cooked, the brown lentil becomes soft and easily loses its shape. The flavor is mild and easy to adapt to different dishes.
Are those split peas? No, they’re another type of popular lentil; they just happen to be green! These are a harder lentil type and require a longer cooking time,
retaining a firm texture even when fully cooked. Green lentils are ideal for salads and mixed-bean soups.
These are smaller in size than the other types, and after they simmer on the stove for a short while they tend to lose their shape entirely, resulting in an earthy and slightly sweet mush. As their name indicates, they are more red or orange in color, and usually sold with the outer skin removed, causing them to cook quickly. Red lentils are a common choice for curries and creamy soups.
Le Puy Lentils
Also known as French lentils, the Le Puy stands out in appearance due to its mottled green and black skin. Another firm variety that does well in salads and other dishes that prefer a shapely lentil, the Le Puy provides more of a peppery taste than some of the other lentil types.
This is a lentil known by many names, including urad dal, black lentils, black matpe, masha, Vigna mungo, and probably a few other names too! This small oval-shaped lentil is black in color when whole, but white when split and shelled. The texture of black gram is more mucilaginous than the other lentil varieties, and the taste is earthy and hearty.
What Makes Black Gram So Special?
If you haven’t noticed, black gram is our favorite lentil of all. We love this lentil not only because of its historic and important role in Ayurvedic medicine, but also because it is a delicious and healthful addition to our modern lives. Our preference is based on history, culture, and science, because the facts don’t lie; this is one of the most amazing legumes in the world! Take a look at this.
Weighing Out the Difference
Based on a 1 cup measurement of mature raw seeds,
let’s go over the content of regular lentil varieties, and then we’ll compare them to the nutritional content of black gram.
Brown, Red, Green, and Le Puy Lentils
We’re going to group these four together, seeing as the nutritional content is very similar among these types, which are, generally, as follows:
- Protein – 24.63 g (44% RDA)
- Fiber – 10.7 g (28% RDA)
- Iron – 6.51 mg (81% RDA)
- Potassium – 677 mg (14% RDA)
- Magnesium – 47 mg (12% RDA)
- Zinc – 3.27 mg (30% RDA)
Now comes our favorite part; take particular notice of the higher levels of protein, iron, and fiber found in black gram.
- Protein – 25.21 g (45% RDA)
- Fiber – 18.3 g (48% RDA)
- Iron – 7.57 mg (95% RDA)
- Potassium – 983 mg (21% RDA)
- Magnesium – 267 mg (67% RDA)
- Zinc – 3.35 (30% RDA)
Packs a Nutritional Punch
We can see that, when compared with other often-consumed legumes, black gram contains higher amounts of various macro and micronutrients. Clearly, black gram earned legendary reputation among the practitioners of Ayurvedic medicine, and they valued it long before scientific studies could quantify black gram’s specific content of minerals, the way antioxidants fight free radicals, etc.
While black gram is still relatively unknown in the west, there is a reason that it is a long-established nutritional staple in some of the most ancient cultures on earth. Now with modern technology, we can see how the dense nutritional makeup of this legume can make a significant impact on the wellbeing of those who embrace it. And once you take a close look at what black gram can do, you begin to wonder if there’s anything it can’t do!
There’s Always More to Learn!
Do you have any other questions or comments about black gram? Feel free to contact us today, because we would love to share more interesting facts about this amazing lentil, and we’d also love to hear about how it has made a difference in your life as well. Join our cause in making this lentil famous to the whole world!
Blackgram.com does not offer personal health or medical advice. Neither black gram nor any of the statements herein have been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The information provided on Blackgram.com is general in nature and informational only. Nothing on this site is intended as advice and should not be considered a substitute in any way for professional medical advice to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. You should consult your healthcare provider before starting any nutrition, diet, exercise, fitness, medical, or wellness program.