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Brown rice vs Lentils: How Are They Different?

This article explains the key similarities and differences between brown rice and lentils, foods from the grains and legumes food groups. Read on to learn more about the brown rice vs lentils comparison.
Esther Bumpus, Health Writer

Written by Esther Bumpus, Health Writer. Updated on February 16, 2023.

Although brown rice and lentils belong to different food groups, while brown rice belong is a grain, and lentils belong to legumes food group, and it’s not that common to compare foods from different groups, people are often interested in these comparisons as well.

That’s why we decided to create an in-depth article that compares brown rice and lentils, their nutritional values, similarities, differences, macronutrients, and micronutrients – vitamins and minerals.

Generally speaking, foods from grains and legume food groups are both high in carbs and protein and valuable addition to a plant-based diet.

Now, let’s see how brown rice and lentils compare specifically.

Brown rice

Brown rice (Oryza sativa) is a whole-grain rice that is minimally processed, retaining its nutrient-rich bran and germ layers.

It is a good source of carbohydrates, dietary fibers, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. It is particularly high in vitamins B3, B1, B6, and B9 and minerals like manganese, magnesium, and phosphorus. The high fiber content of brown rice has been linked to improved digestion, weight management, and lower cholesterol levels.

Brown rice is a staple food in many cultures and is often used as a side dish, in soups and stews, and as an ingredient in salads, sushi, and other dishes. It is also considered a functional food, as it has been shown to positively impact health when consumed regularly as part of a balanced diet.

Brown rice is a gluten-free alternative to wheat-based products, making it a good option for people with gluten sensitivities or celiac disease.

Brown rice is an excellent source of Vitamin B1 (Thiamine), Vitamin B3 (Niacin), Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid), and Vitamin B6 (Pyroxidine).

It also contains Vitamin B9 (Folate) in a small amount.

Lentils

Lentils (Lens culinaris) are a type of legume that are native to the Middle East and have been consumed for thousands of years.

They are small, round, and come in various colors, including green, brown, red, and yellow. Lentils are a popular ingredient in many cuisines worldwide and are highly valued for their nutritional content.

One of the main health benefits of lentils is their high protein content. In fact, lentils are one of the highest plant-based protein sources, making them a popular choice for vegetarians and vegans.

Lentils are also high in fiber, which can help to improve digestion and lower cholesterol levels.

They are rich in nutrients such as iron, potassium, and B vitamins. They also contain many plant compounds that have been shown to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.

Regarding versatility, lentils can be easily incorporated into various dishes, such as soups, stews, and salads.

They are also budget-friendly ingredients that can be used in place of meat to add protein and nutrients to meals.

Lentils are an excellent source of Vitamin B1 (Thiamine), Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid), Vitamin B6 (Pyroxidine), and Vitamin B9 (Folate).

They also contain a good amount of Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), and Vitamin B3 (Niacin) and some Vitamin C, and Vitamin K.

Brown rice vs Lentils Nutrition

Now that we’ve described the origin, taste, and usage of these foods, we can move to the most interesting part – comparing brown rice vs lentils.

This comparison will start by comparing the caloric value of brown rice and lentils and their macronutrients and then go more in-depth by analyzing their vitamin and mineral content.

Brown riceLentils
Energy362 kcal352 kcal
Carbs76.2 g63.4 g
Sugar0 g2.03 g
Fiber3.4 g10.7 g
Protein7.5 g24.6 g
Fat2.68 g1.06 g
Saturated Fat0.536 g0.154 g

Brown rice vs Lentils Calories

Most calories in raw grains and legumes come from carbs. Peanuts are an exception here, but they are often considered a nut instead of a legume because of their nutritional profile.

Comparing lentils vs brown rice for weight loss, lentils are slightly lower in calories, with 352 calories per 100 grams, compared to 362 calories per 100 grams of brown rice.

However, both brown rice and lentils can and should be a part of a healthy diet, and neither one shouldn’t be avoided if you’re looking to lose weight.

Brown rice vs Lentils Protein

Legumes and most legume products, including brown rice and lentils, are important sources of plant-based protein.

Lentils offer around 70% more protein than brown rice.

Lentils have 24.6 grams of protein per 100 grams, while brown rice has 7.5 grams of protein per 100 grams.

Brown rice vs Lentils Carbs

Counting carbs can be important for some people for different reasons, including blood sugar control, weight management, or athletic performance.

It’s also important for people on a keto diet, so let’s compare the carbs content in brown rice and lentils.

The total amount of carbohydrates is around 17% higher in brown rice than in lentils. It have 76.2 grams per 100 grams, compared to 63.4 grams in lentils.

There’s less sugar in brown rice than in lentils, 100% precisely.

One handful of brown rice (28 grams) contains 0 grams of sugar, while the same amount of lentils contains 0.6 grams.

Lastly, let’s take a look at the dietary fiber in brown rice and lentils.

Dietary fiber keeps the digestive system healthy and helps with weight management by promoting a sense of fullness.

With 3 grams of fiber per portion, lentils are a better source of fiber than brown rice which offer 1 grams per portion.

Brown rice vs Lentils Fats

Like most other grains and legumes, with the exception of lupins and peanuts, brown rice and lentils are low in fat.

Fats in brown rice and lentils are mostly healthy unsaturated fats. They are naturally cholesterol-free and trans-fat-free.

Total fat in brown rice and lentils:

  • Brown rice: 2.7 grams per 100 grams
  • Lentils: 1.1 per 100 grams

Speaking of saturated fats, lentils are 60% lower in saturated fats.

Lentils and brown rice contain 0.2 grams and 0.5 grams of saturated fat per 100 grams, respectively.

Brown rice vs Lentils Vitamins Content

This section will discuss the vitamin content of brown rice and lentils.

Vitamins are micronutrients, meaning we need only a small amount. However, they are very important for many processes in our bodies.

Brown rice has a higher amount of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B1 (Thiamine), vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid), vitamin B6 (Pyroxidine), vitamin B9 (Folate), vitamin E, and vitamin K.

However, lentils have a higher amount of vitamin B3 (Niacin).

Brown rice and lentils contain the same amount of vitamin D, and vitamin B12 (Cobalamin).

The following table shows the exact amount of vitamins brown rice and lentils contain side by side, so you can easily compare them.

Brown riceLentils
Vitamin A039 IU
Vitamin C04.5 mg
Vitamin D00
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)0.413 mg0.873 mg
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)0.043 mg0.211 mg
Vitamin B3 (Niacin)4.31 mg2.6 mg
Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid)1.49 mg2.14 mg
Vitamin B6 (Pyroxidine)0.509 mg0.54 mg
Vitamin B9 (Folate)20 µg479 µg
Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)00
Vitamin E0.05 mg0.49 mg
Vitamin K0.9 µg5 µg

Brown rice vs Lentils Minerals Content

Minerals are important for our body to function properly. We need only a small amount of minerals, so they are called micronutrients.

Some minerals, like iron, calcium, zinc or, iodine, are relatively hard to get on a plant-based diet, so it’s important to choose your foods thoughtfully. This part of the brown rice and lentils comparison focuses on their mineral content.

Brown rice is a better source of calcium, copper, iron, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, and zinc than lentils.

On the other hand, lentils are a higher amount of magnesium, manganese, and selenium.

Brown rice and lentils contain the same amount of fluoride.

Check out the table below to learn how brown rice and lentils compare when it comes to mineral content.

Brown riceLentils
Calcium33 mg35 mg
Copper0.277 mg0.754 mg
Fluoride00
Iron1.8 mg6.51 mg
Magnesium143 mg47 mg
Manganese3.74 mg1.39 mg
Phosphorus264 mg281 mg
Potassium268 mg677 mg
Selenium2.7 µg0.1 µg
Sodium4 mg6 mg
Zinc2.02 mg3.27 mg

The Final Word

Brown rice and lentils are highly nutritious and a great addition to a plant-based diet.

Both brown rice and lentils are high in specific vitamins and minerals, and including them in your diet will give you the most benefits they offer.

Antioxidants found in grains and legumes can help to protect cells from damage and may reduce the risk of certain diseases and the effects of aging.

Additionally, the fiber and other nutrients in these foods can support the health of the digestive system and may even help to prevent certain digestive cancers.

Legumes and grains are a versatile food that can be incorporated into any meal of the day, including breakfast, lunch, or dinner. They can be served hot or cold, making them a convenient and tasty addition to a variety of dishes.

Sources

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