Lentils vs Chickpeas: (Nutrition and Protein Comparison)


Lentils and chickpeas have a lot in common.

They’re both legumes, and you can even find non-wheat pasta made from them in most stores these days.

But if you’re wondering which one is healthier, or fits your macros best, you’ll want to read this short post.

We’ll compare the most important nutritional differences, to see if lentils or chickpeas are best for your diet.

Taste of Lentils vs Chickpeas

Lentils and chickpeas are often used in the same types of plant-based recipes (e.g. salads, curries) because neither have a strong flavor.

They both “soak up” the flavor of any sauce or dressing they’re in. However, there still is a significant difference between them when it comes to taste:

  • Lentils – More of an “earthy” taste when it comes to brown or green lentils. Red lentils are made by removing the shells of brown or green lentils, so they have a very plain neutral taste.
  • Chickpeas – They have a chewier texture than lentils, but about the same level of softness. Chickpeas don’t have too much of a flavor, which allows them to pair well with almost anything.

Nutritional Value Comparison

I’ve broken down the nutrition comparison into 2 sections.

First we’ll look at the key vitamins and minerals that each one offers, and then we’ll take a quick glance at the fiber.

I feel like these are the 2 most relevant factors that affect how healthy either is.

Vitamins and Minerals Comparison

Legumes in general have some vitamins, but the real nutrition benefits come from the ample amount of nutrients they provide.

Here’s a breakdown of the vitamins and minerals that lentils and chickpeas give you the most of, in terms of what percent of your daily value (%DV) you get in a cup (200 grams cooked).

  Lentils (%DV) Chickpeas (%DV)
Folate 90 71
Iron 37 26
Magnesium 18 20
Phosphorus 36 28
Potassium 21 14
Zinc 17 17
Copper 25 29
Manganese 49 87

It’s quite even overall, I wouldn’t say there’s a clear winner.

Lentils lead 4 categories, while chickpeas lead 3 categories.

With just a few cups of either in a day, you come close to 100% of your daily value in many nutrients, or exceed it in a few cases. Both are solid sources of phosphorus, folate, iron, and zinc.

Fiber Comparison

More fiber is generally a good thing.

If you’re a vegan you probably don’t need to worry about your fiber intake, but if you’re just looking to introduce some more plants into your diet, it’s something to consider.

  Lentils Chickpeas
Fiber (g) per 1 cup cooked 15.6 12.5

Both have good amounts of fiber, but lentils edge out chickpeas.

Protein Comparison

This is probably the biggest difference between these 2 legumes.

Have a look at how much protein there is in a cooked cup of each of them:

  Lentils Chickpeas
Protein(g) per 1 cup cooked 17.9 14.5

Although both are great vegan sources of protein and iron, that’s an extra 3.4 grams of protein per cup of lentils. If you eat 3 cups of lentils in a day, you’ll get an extra 10 grams of protein compared to if you ate chickpeas.

If you’re on a mostly plant-based diet and are struggling to get enough protein to hit your macros, eating mostly lentils will help.

Are Lentils or Chickpeas Healthier?

Both are good legumes and overall “healthy” foods.

They give you similar amounts of many essential vitamins and minerals.

However, if you have to pick one to focus on, lentils are the winner. They have more fiber, and a substantial amount more protein.

If you’d like to see how lentils stack up against beans in general, see my comparison post for lentils vs beans. Once you’re done that, you might be interested in seeing how legumes stack up vs nuts.

Do Lentils or Chickpeas Give You More Gas?

In terms of legumes, I’ve always found that legumes and chickpeas both cause less gas than most beans (e.g. kidney, black, navy, etc.).

However, one still might be better than the other.

While the fiber suggests that lentils are likely to give you more gas than chickpeas, there’s one more important thing to look at – oligosaccharides. Oligosaccharides are a type of sugar that are tough to digest and cause flatulence. They are found in all legumes in a substantial amount.

Oligosaccharides in Chickpeas and Lentils

One study looked at this exact topic. The table below shows the total amount of oligosaccharides in both chickpeas and lentils.

oligosaccharides in chickpeas and lentils

While it depends on the type of lentil, the total amount of oligosaccharides were about 20-50% higher in chickpeas.

That makes it hard to determine which one will give you more gas.

For some people, the higher amount of fiber in lentils will cause more gas. For others, the higher amount of oligosaccharides in chickpeas will cause more of an issue.

Improving Digestion Through Soaking

One way to reduce oligosaccharide content and improve how easily a legume digests is through soaking and sprouting.

Another study looked at this topic; the main results are in the table below:

oligosaccharides in legumesLentils lost a greater percentage of oligosaccharides than chickpeas, making the difference even greater, although it doesn’t change our overall conclusion from above.

What’s the Difference Between Lentils and Chickpeas?

While they share a lot in common, we’ve seen a few differences between lentils and chickpeas:

  • Lentils have a more earthy flavor and texture than chickpeas.
  • Lentils have a bit more folate and iron, while chickpeas have more magnesium and zinc.
  • Lentils are significantly higher in fiber and protein.
  • Chickpeas have more oligosaccharides, which means they likely cause more gas in most people.

Both chickpeas and lentils are healthy foods that can be included in just about any plant-based diet. However, if you’re looking for a specific nutrient, you may prefer more of one over the other.

About the author

Dale Cudmore

Your friendly neighborhood vegan from Toronto. I've spent over 6 years as a freelance nutrition writer and researcher. During this time, I've tested over 50 vegan protein powders, and over 100 other types of vegan supplements.

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