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Difference Between Lentils and Pulses

What are Pulses?

Last updated date: 18th Mar 2023
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Pulses are a variety of leguminous crops that are harvested for their dry seed. They are known as pulses only because of their dry seed found in the pod which can yield 1 or 12 grains or seeds. India is the largest producer of pulses. Pulses are also called grain legumes coming in different shapes and sizes. They contain minerals such as zinc, folate, iron, and magnesium. 

Types of Pulses

Pulses are a variety of legumes that are harvested for their dry seeds. They are a variety of leguminous crops that produce an edible seed that grows within the pod of the plant, they are packed with proteins and fibre.  

There are majorly 11 types of pulses:

  • Dry beans 

  • Dry broad beans 

  • Dry peas 

  • Chickpeas 

  • Cowpeas 

  • Pigeon peas 

  • Lentils 

  • Bambara beans

  • Vetches

  • Lupins 

  • Pulse nes


Lentils are edible legumes, known for their lens-shaped, flat disced seed. The lentil plant is 40 cm tall, and seeds grow in pods, the leafy stalks are used as fodder for livestock. It is a staple food of Syria, Morocco, Jordan, and Turkey. They are free of fat and are an essential variation of pulses only. The significant point of difference is lentils are types of pulses, whereas pulses are edible seeds of legumes. 

Types of Lentils

Lentils being the oldest cultivated legume are a staple across the world, consumed widely across India, the Middle East, Europe, and the Americas. They introduce an element of fibre and protein besides being cooked easier, don't have to be soaked, and are easily available and inexpensive too.

There are 4 main types of lentils:

  1. Brown Lentils - They have an earthy flavour, are easily available and convenient to cook. They are used in soups, stews, etc.

  2. Green Lentils - They have a robust flavour and come in different sizes. They are used to make green lentil curry or as sprouts in salads enhancing the protein quotient.

  3. Red and Yellow Lentils -They are sold as split meaning they are processed and pounded by machine into smaller sizes, they are sweet in taste and interestingly an essential part of an Indian thali.

  4. Uncommon Lentils - Black beluga and Puy. Both are smaller in size and possess an earthy flavour. 

Seeds Used as Pulses

In a legume plant, the seed is harvested and then used as pulses, it is an edible seed that grows in a pod. It includes all beans, peas, lentils, etc. Rajma, and masoor are examples of seeds used as pulses. 

List of Lentils

They are flat and lens-shaped, sold without or with coats, the whole split, polished, and unpolished. They are a great source of protein for vegetarians.

The list is as follows:

  1. Red lentils or split red lentils (masoor)

  2. Green gram beans, split or skinned (Moong)

  3. Black-eyed beans (lobia or chawli)

  4. Yellow pigeon peas (toor or tuvar)

  5. Red kidney beans (Rajma)

  6. Adzuki beans (chori)

  7.  Turkish beans (Moth)

  8. Split Bengal gram (Chana)

  9. Black gram split skinned (Urad)

  10. Horse gram or (kulthi)

Lentils Examples

They are broadly classified into four main categories:

  1. Brown Lentils – They have an earthy flavour, easy to cook and are cheaply available.

  2. Green Lentils – They have a robust flavour and come in different sizes; they vary in colour too.

  3. Red and Yellow – They are sold as split meaning processing is done to make them smaller than they are, sweet in taste and cooking time less.  

  4. Some uncommon lentils are black beluga, puy, and Egyptian lentils.

Interesting Facts

The interesting fact is that the only noticeable difference is lentils are lens-shaped seeds of the Eurasian annual leguminous plant while pulses are edible seeds of plants in the leguminous family.

Important Questions

1. Define and explain the thermal denaturation of the protein.

Ans: Thermal treatment applied when cooking of pulses results in denaturation and increase in the protein content. Thermal transitions of lentils, chickpea and bean protein were observed as protein enriched samples were achieved by dry air categorization of dehulled seeds. This allows for calculations of degree of protein transition for any temperature and moisture condition. Chickpea proteins were more thermally stable than lentils and beans. In this process when the protein is heated, thermal motion breaks down the protein structure. The modification of molecular structure of protein is done by denaturation.

2. Give the analysis of four pulses on the basis of dietary fibre content.

Ans: Chickpeas, beans, dry peas, and lentils are pulses which have been a staple diet of humans since man started agriculture for consumption. The fibre content of pulse crops was evaluated as they are highly regarded as vegetarian alternatives for proteins. These pulses have 2 to 3 times more fibre per 100 grams than other dietary staples. Despite information to promote fibre through vegetables and fruits, the average fibre consumption has remained low. The majority of fibre is found in the seed coat or the hull which is removed and ground to produce a fibre ingredient with 80% fibre content.

Key Features of the Difference Between Lentils and Pulses

  • Lentils are types of pulses

  • Pulses are dried edible seeds of legumes

  • Lentils are found only in the lens-shaped variety

Competitive Exams after 12th Science

FAQs on Difference Between Lentils and Pulses

1. What is the difference between cereals and pulses?

Cereals possess high carbohydrate content, for example, rice, wheat, corn, barley, maize etc. Cereals are a good source of fibre, calcium, amino acids, vitamin B6 and B12. Cereals are mass-produced and grown commercially in large volumes in countries like India, China etc. Pulses, on the other hand, possess lower carbohydrate content but are a rich source of protein, minerals, fibre, and vitamins. Production of pulses is comparatively much lesser when compared to the production of cereals. 

2. Can lentils or pulses be consumed raw?

Raw lentils or pulses if consumed raw can cause toxic reactions in the digestive tract of humans. On reaching the stomach, they cause an adverse reaction because they contain lectin which is a kind of protein found in higher amounts in peanuts, tomatoes, potatoes, and lentils. If lentils or pulses are consumed raw, they cause symptoms like bloating, gas, stomach cramps, skin rashes and nausea. Sometimes they cause severe diarrhoea which requires immediate medical attention. 

3. What is lentil called in layman's terms?

In India, every household makes ‘daal’ which forms an integral part of an Indian thali. It is called ‘mercimek’ in Turkish. The English love their baked kidney beans on toast. Chickpeas are widely used in Mediterranean cuisine in soups, salads, and curries. Chickpeas are called ‘garbanzo beans’ and are used in Africa and the Middle east. The brown lentil is known as ‘Spanish Pardinas’ and yellow lentils are called ‘Macachiados’. They are commonly used in Mexican cuisine.