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Lentils vs Pigeon Peas: Which Is Healthier?

This article explains the key similarities and differences between lentils and pigeon peas, foods from the legumes and legume product group. Read on to learn more about the lentils vs pigeon peas comparison.
Esther Bumpus, Health Writer

Written by Esther Bumpus, Health Writer. Updated on January 18, 2023.

Lentils and pigeon peas belong to the legumes and legume products food group, one of the staple food groups for people on a plant-based diet.

Legumes and most legume products are an affordable source of plant protein, dietary fiber, B vitamins, and minerals such as iron, calcium, potassium, and zinc, minerals that are usually harder to get on a plant-based diet.

This article will thoroughly compare lentils and pigeon peas and help you learn more about their similarities and differences.


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.

Pigeon Peas

Pigeon peas (Cajanus cajan) are a legume widely cultivated in tropical and subtropical regions worldwide.

They are a staple food in many countries, including India, Africa, and South America.

Pigeon peas are known for their high protein and fiber content, as well as their rich flavor and versatility in cooking.

Pigeon peas can be used in various dishes such as dals, curries, soups, and stews. They can also be used to make flour and snacks.

They peas are an excellent source of plant-based protein and are a good source of minerals like iron, zinc, and potassium.

They are also rich in antioxidants and can help to reduce inflammation and protect against certain types of cancer.

Pigeon peas are also low in fat and cholesterol-free, making them a great option for a healthy diet.

Pigeon Peas is an excellent source of Vitamin B1 (Thiamine), Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid), and Vitamin B9 (Folate).

It also contains a good amount of Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), Vitamin B3 (Niacin), and Vitamin B6 (Pyroxidine).

Lentils vs Pigeon Peas Nutrition

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

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

LentilsPigeon Peas
Energy352 kcal343 kcal
Carbs63.4 g62.78 g
Fiber10.7 g15 g
Protein24.6 g21.7 g
Fat1.06 g1.49 g
Saturated Fat0.154 g0.33 g

Lentils vs Pigeon Peas Calories

Most calories in raw 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 pigeon peas vs lentils for weight loss, pigeon peas is slightly lower in calories, with 343 calories per 100 grams, compared to 352 calories per 100 grams of lentils.

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

Lentils vs Pigeon Peas Protein

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

Lentils offer around 12% more protein than pigeon peas.

Lentils have 24.6 grams of protein per 100 grams, while pigeon peas has 21.7 grams of protein per 100 grams.

Lentils vs Pigeon Peas 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 lentils and pigeon peas.

The total amount of carbohydrates is around 1% higher in lentils than in pigeon peas. They have 63.4 grams per 100 grams, compared to 62.8 grams in pigeon peas.

There’s less sugar in pigeon peas than in lentils, 100% precisely.

One handful of pigeon peas (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 lentils and pigeon peas.

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

With 4.2 grams of fiber per portion, pigeon peas is a better source of fiber than lentils which offers 3 grams per portion.

Lentils vs Pigeon Peas Fats

Like most other legumes, with the exception of lupins and peanuts, lentils and pigeon peas are low in fat.

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

Total fat in lentils and pigeon peas:

  • Lentils: 1.1 grams per 100 grams
  • Pigeon Peas: 1.5 per 100 grams

Speaking of saturated fats, lentils are 33% lower in saturated fats.

Lentils and pigeon peas contain 0.2 grams and 0.3 grams of saturated fat per 100 grams, respectively.

Lentils vs Pigeon Peas Vitamins Content

This section will discuss the vitamin content of lentils and pigeon peas.

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

Lentils have a higher amount of vitamin B3 (Niacin).

However, pigeon peas 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.

Lentils and pigeon peas contain the same amount of vitamin D, and vitamin B12 (Cobalamin).

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

LentilsPigeon Peas
Vitamin A39 IU28 IU
Vitamin C4.5 mg0
Vitamin D00
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)0.873 mg0.643 mg
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)0.211 mg0.187 mg
Vitamin B3 (Niacin)2.6 mg2.965 mg
Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid)2.14 mg1.266 mg
Vitamin B6 (Pyroxidine)0.54 mg0.283 mg
Vitamin B9 (Folate)479 µg456 µg
Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)00
Vitamin E0.49 mg0
Vitamin K5 µg0

Lentils vs Pigeon Peas 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 lentils and pigeon peas comparison focuses on their mineral content.

Lentils are a better source of calcium, copper, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, and sodium than pigeon peas.

On the other hand, pigeon peas is a higher amount of iron, and zinc.

Lentils and pigeon peas contain the same amount of fluoride.

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

LentilsPigeon Peas
Calcium35 mg130 mg
Copper0.754 mg1.057 mg
Iron6.51 mg5.23 mg
Magnesium47 mg183 mg
Manganese1.39 mg1.791 mg
Phosphorus281 mg367 mg
Potassium677 mg1392 mg
Selenium0.1 µg8.2 µg
Sodium6 mg17 mg
Zinc3.27 mg2.76 mg

The Final Word

Lentils and pigeon peas are highly nutritious and a great addition to a plant-based diet.

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

Antioxidants found in beans 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 are 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.


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