Black Gram vs Black Lentils

With all the varieties of legumes out there in the world, the names can be confusing, especially when there are multiple names for the same bean! Today, we’re going to highlight two legumes that are similar in some ways, yet different in other ways. We’re talking about black gram and black lentils. Let’s explore the similarities, and then the differences in appearance and nutritional content. 

Similarities of Black Gram and Black Lentils

Both of these beans belong to the Fabaceae family, are small, and, of course, black (this means that both contain valuable anthocyanins). To make it even more confusing, some websites that you may encounter will use the name “black lentil” when they are actually referring to black gram! Despite their similar color and size, there are plenty of ways to tell them apart when browsing around your local ethnic market or shopping online.

Black Gram (Vigna mungo L.)

This small bean of many names finds its origins in ancient India, and can also be titled as urad dalblack matpemungo beanmasha, and many others. It has more of an oval shape rather than a disc, and inside the jet-black seedcoat is a white interior. It is also sold with the black skin removed, leaving split white halves; this is called urad dal mogarBlack gram also holds its shape well when cooked, but it is often ground up to be used in fried breads and even cosmetic treatments!

Perhaps the most important feature of black gram is the way it has been utilized in traditional ayurvedic medicine throughout India. Ayurvedic texts claim that black gram can help improve blood pressure, digestion, reproductive health, inflammation, and more.

Black Lentils (Lens culinaris)

This ancient legume has its roots in the Middle East, and is shaped similarly to the more common French lentil varieties; small and disc-like. They have a rich black hue that causes them to resemble caviar. In fact, another popular name for the black lentil is beluga lentil. The skin of the black lentil is a bit thicker than brown or green lentils, helping it to hold its shape better when cooked. It has a pleasant versatile flavor, and can be tossed into many dishes.

All lentils of the Lens culinaris group are known for their hearty and healthy attributes, making them a versatile food staple in many cultures.

Nutritional Comparison

Beyond all of the external characteristics and historical journeys of each bean, perhaps the most pertinent information that should be used to compare black gram and black lentils is what lies within, namely, their nutritional compositions. Based on 100 g of mature raw seeds, let’s see which one provides the most health benefits!


Every cell in the human body needs protein to function, to be maintained, and ultimately, to exist. Often called “the building blocks of life”, every healthy diet must have plenty of protein to keep the body working well! Here’s how black gram and black lentils compare in this vital nutrient:

Black gram –  25.2 g (45% RDV)

Black lentils – 25.0 g (45% RDV)


The American Heart Association Eating Plan recommends that adults consume 25-30g of fiber every day. Unfortunately, the typical American diet doesn’t come close to reaching that amount. Eating legumes more often is a great way to get closer to the fiber goal. In our comparison of black gram and black lentils, here are where the two beans stand in terms of fiber content per serving:

Black gram – 18.3 g (48% RDV)

Black lentils – 10.7 g (28% RDV)


Our blood depends on iron in order to carry oxygen through the body. Without enough iron, we become fatigued, and many bodily functions lack what they need. Look at the impressive amounts of iron per serving in these two little beans!

Black gram – 7.6 g (95% RDV)

Black lentils – 7.1 g (93% RDV)


Every tissue in the body needs potassium! This essential mineral even carries a small electrical charge to activate cells and nerve functions. Potassium also helps to balance out the negative effects of sodium. Which bean has more?

Black gram – 983.0 mg (21% RDV)

Black lentils – 685.0 mg (16% RDV)


Muscle and nerve functions, blood pressure, and the immune system all require magnesium in order to work properly. Magnesium also plays a role in transporting calcium and potassium molecules through cell membranes, a process that is needed for nerve impulses, muscle contractions, and normal heart rhythm. Black gram is way ahead on this one!

Black gram – 267.0 mg (67% RDV)

Black lentils – 46.4 mg (12% RDV)


This trace mineral is important for a healthy immune system, and zinc is also used in DNA creation, cell growth, tissue repair, and other important funtions. This one is a close call, but black gram still pulls ahead!

Black gram – 3.4 mg (30% RDV)

Black lentils – 3.5 mg (30% RDV)

The “Super Bean” Wins Again!

Not that we were surprised, but it seems like black gram always comes out on top when competing with other legumes in the nutritional categories; it’s just a hard bean to beat!

Are you ready to give black gram a try? Join the global community of black gram fans, and see how it can benefit your life! It’s been a favorite in India for thousands of years, and it’s now gaining popularity in the West too. Check out some recipes, and find some tasty ways to put it on your dinner table. Enjoy good wholesome food with friends and family, enjoy life, and enjoy black gram!

If you have any questions about this amazing legume, feel free to contact us; we’re always happy to help out with any information you need. 

Happy eating! 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 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.

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