Water lentils by The Healthy RD

Water Lentils: Health Benefits and Low Lectin Recipes

Plant proteins are very appealing for health, but often fall short in amino acids [R]. This can make vegetarian and vegan diets challenging.  While plant-based movements are hitting the news daily, there are some issues, nutritionally speaking.  Protein-rich vegetables can also contain some dicey compounds like lectins and allergens, which can be problematic for health.

One plant protein, however, contains ALL the essential amino acids; this plant is called water lentils. In addition to being a complete protein source, water lentils are also free of lectins and allergens. They may also be one of the most sustainable food options out there.

Learn about the health benefits of water lentils, how they compare to green, red, and brown lentils, recipes, and more in this post.

What are Water Lentils?

Water lentils truly aren’t a lentil at all; they are small flowering aquatic plant also known as Lemnoideae.  This is a family of plants that includes both Lemna and Wolffiaor Duckweed. They are freshwater plants that grow best in warm temperatures.

Water lentils are so much MORE than legumes for your health too. They are suitable for people on an autoimmune protocol because they are lectin free. Bonus: the nutrients in water lentils are likely MUCH better absorbed than in standard lentils. I will explain more below.

Water lentils are also commonly known as lemna, duckweed, and man kai. Though sometimes confused with being part of the lentil family, Lentein® chose to call these little plant water lentils because it is the most common translation of the word.  They can also be called lentille d’eau, wasserlinse, lenteja de agua, and water linze.

How Are They Eaten?

Water lentils are eaten as part of a healthy diet in various Asian countries and can be used in salads, curries, stir fry dishes and more.  They taste a lot like water cress.  You can also buy water lentils in supplemental brands and trademarks called Real Source Foods and Lentein®.

What is Lentein?

It simply is a dried form of water lentils that can be used in smoothies, baked goods, and more. Parabel USA, a Florida-based company, is the main producer of water lentils today.

  • Producing 500 tons of water lentils a year, Parabel has ideal conditions that allow these little duckweed to double in growth in just 24-36 hours.  This efficiency and high nutritional value are likely going to help solve projected increase in food needs on the planet over the coming decades.
  • According to Food Dive, we will soon likely see water lentils used in vegetarian burgers and meat substitutes.  They would be a suitable and superior protein option to other protein alternatives like soy and pea proteins.

I want to thank Real Source Foods for free samples of water lentils.

All views in this post are my own and backed by  research.

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Water Lentils Benefits

Plants have an amazing ability to protect themselves from pests and also from animals that might want to eat them.  A protective compound (for themselves) that plants make is called lectins.

Lectins are a type of protein that can bind to carbohydrates and sugars in the digestive tract.  From there, they can have either positive or negative effects. This protein is found in about a third of the foods on the planet and is especially high in foods like [R]:

    • kidney beans
    • black beans
    • green, red, or brown lentils
    • wheat
    • tomatoes
    • potatoes
    • peppers

Lectins can help with normal functions in the body and may even help prevent cancer[R]  However, lectins, in large amounts,  have binding properties that can cause [R]:

  • nutrient deficiencies
  • poor digestion
  • cause severe intestinal damage
  • leaky gut
  • immune reactions

Aquatic plants like water lentils do not contain any lectins, so are very useful for people who suffer from a leaky gut or autoimmune issues.  They fit quite nicely into an autoimmune protocol, or AIP recipes. This is why I believe that water lentils make the best non-dairy protein powders out there. 

Another great aquatic plant to try on a low lectin diet is called chlorella Low lectin diets and lectin free diets became popular with Dr. Gundry and his Plant Paradox book over the last few years.

While research remains early on the topics of the effects of lectins and health, it is likely that some people have lectin sensitivities and should limit them.  You may want to read more about the Plant Paradox here. Buy Water Lentils by The Healthy RD

Water Lentils Nutrition

Water lentils are very nutritious compared to many foods, including most legumes and lentils.

Better Nutritional Profile

Water lentils are such a high-quality protein that they are similar in amino acid profile to whey protein powder [R].  This is rare and unheard of among plant-based proteins! Water lentils contain all of the essential amino acids. A nutrient-rich food and allergen free food, water lentils also contain many vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber, healthy fatty acids like omega 3 fats, and antioxidants.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently issued a generally recognized as safe (GRAS) statement for water lentils.  They also submitted a No Objection Letter for LENTEIN® plant protein [R]. This means that water lentils pose no health threats and are safe for all to eat. The meet standards for food safety.

Here are some impressive nutritional comparisons between Real Food Source water lentil powder and standard lentils:Water lentils contain a higher amount of some key nutrients and antioxidants than your typical green lentil, red lentil, or brown lentil [R]. How much more?

  • Double the iron
  • Almost double the protein
  • Complete amino acid profile
  • A hundred times more omega 3’s per 100 grams
  • 3 times as much fiber
  • 5 times more lutein

Based on these facts, one could consider water lentils a superfood. These nutrients also will likely absorb better because water lentils do not contain lectin, according to Real Food Source nutritional analysis [R]. Phytates also bind nutrients, and they are also known as antinutrients.

While legumes contain phytates, water lentils contain minimal amounts of phytates.  It is always possible to soak, ferment, and cook legumes to help reduce most phytates in your lentils and legumes.

Plant-Based Vitamin B12?

Water lentils are now identified as one of the only bio-available plant sources of vitamin B12, according to Parabel.  While I haven’t yet seen the quantity of vitamin B12, this is a hopeful area for a plant-sourced vitamin B12.

Water lentils do not contain any lectins. This is why they may be very useful for people with digestive issues, such as leaky gut, or for autoimmune issues. 
Water lentil and red lentil nutrient comparison by The Healthy RD

Comparison of amino acids

Plant proteins, especially legumes like soy and other beans,  lack adequate essential amino acids in order to be a complete and quality protein. These amino acids include methionine, cysteine, and tryptophan [R].  In contrast, water lentils are a fantastic source of all essential amino acids. Water lentils have almost double the amount of standard lentils per calorie of the following essential amino acids [R]:

  • Methionine
  • Cysteine

They contain equal amounts of tryptophan to food sources like soy protein and more tryptophan than pea proteins.  Water lentil amino acid score is higher than any source of plant protein [R]. Water lentils contain equal or more amino acids of all types than red lentils for the following amino acids, including branch-chain amino acids [R] [R]:

  • Isoleucine
  • Leucine
  • Lysine
  • Arginine
  • Glutamic acid
  • Glycine


Methionine is an important amino acid that is rich in sulfur to help support healthy mineral nutrition in the body. Vegan diets tend to fall short in methionine.  Why? Foods high in methionine are almost exclusively from animals.

One exception exists: water lentils boast 1.3 grams of methionine per 100 grams.  In contrast, beef has around 1.1 grams of methionine per 100 grams. Sesame seeds or hemp seeds contain around 0.8 grams of methionine per 100 grams as some of the next closest plant sources of methionine.

Are Water Lentils Keto?

Water lentils have zero net carbs. Why?  All of the carbohydrate content in water lentils are from fiber, which does not turn to sugar in your blood.  In contrast, red lentils and green lentils are not on your keto food list. Keto diets are not for everyone, but they can be supportive for many health conditions, including seizures, managing diabetes, helping with weight loss, inflammation, and supporting healthy mitochondria [R]. Water lentils are also great on a Mito Food Plan because they support healthy, energy-burning mitochondria [R].

Sustainable Food

Growing water lentils is a very sustainable process.  According to Sustain Web, a sustainable food definition is not a singular term, but almost always includes the following: Food should be produced, processed, distributed and disposed of in ways that:

  • Help make thriving local economy and lives
  • Protect plant and animal diversity and welfare
  • Avoid destroying natural resources
  • Provide quality food that is safe and healthy

Real Food Source water lentils are completely carbon neutral and the harvesters are able to recycle the use of 98 percent of the water it uses for production [R]. This is because Parabel uses sustainable water technology. They reclaim unusable crop land as well. The water lentil plants also help prevent evaporation and the water can be used over and over.

The food industry needs more water sustainable foods. Why? A pound of almonds requires 1900 pounds of water for production [R]! Raising chickens, sheep, and beef can range between 4300-15,000 pounds of water per pound of production [R]. A pound of green lentils takes 705 lbs of water.

Water lentils require almost no water at all other than their own weight. Water lentils can be harvested every day because they multiply so rapidly.  No pesticides are used and they are GMO free.

Experts estimate that in the next 30 years, 70% more food will be required to support the human population of this planet. Water lentils will most definitely be part of the solution. All water lentils need to grow is water and sunshine.  That’s it.

Water lentil harvest captures 100% of the plant too, which means nothing is wasted [R]. They also double their mass in 24-36 hours, making them super efficient and save a lot of space for harvest. As a plant protein, water lentils are the most efficient and sustainable out there.

Lentein® water lentils  are grown in a controlled environment,  large aqua ponds, so they do not risk being exposed to heavy metals or toxins like those in the wild often are, such as those found in Southeast Asia.

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Water lentils→negligible water requirement Lentils→700 lbs water per pound of lentils
Almonds→1900 lbs of water per pound Chicken, sheep, beef→4,300-15,000 lbs of water per pound
{Please note that this post contains affiliate links. As a Real Source Food, Rakuten, and Amazon affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases.}

Where to Buy Water Lentils

You can buy sustainable and pure water lentils as  vegan meal replacement shakes at Real Source Foods here. Use the code: healthyRD to get 20% off all water lentil products! This includes free shipping and costs only $19.59 with the discount. Real Source Foods has a number of tasty water lentil products, including:

Low Lectin Recipes Using Water Lentils

While it is challenging to completely eliminate lectins in your diet, the following low lectin recipes and lectin free recipes may help improve your health.  This is especially true if you suffer from leaky gut, bloating, indigestion, autoimmune diseases, and more. A low lectin diet simply requires reducing legumes, nightshade vegetables, and grains like wheat in your diet as they are the biggest lectin food sources.

Low Lectin Recipes

Courtesy of Real Source Foods, this smoothie is perfect for a low lectin diet.  It contains water lentils, kale, spinach, cucumber, fennel, flaxseed, avocado, and coconut. It may be one of your healthiest lectin free snacks or breakfasts! This is also Plant Paradox recipes compliant. Vegan protein powder recipes like this taste great and may just lift your fatigue at the same time.

Glowing Green Smoothie Recipe

Water lentil smoothie and Water lentil superfood held by athletic woman with pink leggings by The Healthy RD 1 handful spinach 1 scoop Water Lentil Superfood 1/2 cup cucumber 1/4 cup raw fennel 1 tbs ground flaxseed 1/2 avocado 1.5 cup coconut water Prepare and wash ingredients. Add all ingredients to a blender and blend. Add more coconut water for a smoother consistency.   Here are some more tasty and healthy water lentil smoothie recipes that are low lectin.  These recipes are full of antioxidant berries, fruits and healthy water lentils!

This Antioxidant Smoothie Recipe contains almond milk. Do almonds have lectins?  It depends. If you remove the skin from almonds, they do not contain lectin.  Almond milk is also considered safe on a lectin free diet or low lectin diet. All of these are vegan protein powder recipes.

Low Lectin Dessert Recipe

Cacao brownies Feel free to indulge in the following decadent cacao brownies occasionally.  Bonus: they are free of processed sugar and contain no added sugars.  They contain healthy water lentils!

Low Lectin Oatmeal Recipes Made with Water Lentils

I searched high and low for research related to the content of lectins in oatmeal.  I turned up empty-handed.  Some types of oats contain gluten, so if you are gluten-sensitive or have autoimmune issues, it may be best to avoid.  Read more about oatmeal and low carb oatmeal recipes here. As a grain, oatmeal likely has some lectins.  Don’t despair: if you soak them it helps.  Also, sprouting and cooking will help remove any antinutrients, including lectins, tremendously [R].

Low Lectin Oatmeal

Here is a low lectin recipe for oatmeal. Tip: if you want to further reduce lectins, sprout the oats first. The cooking process also reduces the lectins.

Vanilla oatmeal recipe 

Banana Oat Pancakes

Here is a banana oat pancakes vegan recipe style called One Bowl Banana Oat Pancakes made with Lentein plant protein. Both of these oat recipes are vegan protein powder recipes. You can make this gluten free as well by choosing gluten free oat flour.

Water Lentils Superfood Review

I’ve tried a LOT of vegan meal replacement shakes and protein powders, including collagen protein powder, egg protein powder, whey protein powders (many!), vegan protein powders (several), and now I’ve tried water lentil protein powder.

Are you a fan of protein shakes?  Me too! This is because I can really easily get in some extra vegetables and protein into my day without really thinking much about it. Real Source Water Lentils Superfood is, in my opinion, top notch in the protein powder category. Why? It is:

  • Mild
  • Mixes in easily
  • Does not create sediment at the bottom
  • Smooth
  • Did I say mild?
  • Tastes clean
  • Tastes good!

Water Lentils Superfood is NOT:

  • Gritty like most whey protein powders and some vegan protein powders
  • Bitter like artificially-sweetened protein powders
  • Foamy like egg protein powders
  • Pasty at the bottom like most protein powders

If you didn’t see the color green, you probably wouldn’t know it is green! This means there is no bitterness or aftertaste either. I almost couldn’t tell it was green at all.    I can honestly say it is the only protein powder I have tried that doesn’t settle at the bottom, too, making each sip uniform.

While I am not a vegan, I do like vegan protein powders.  This one is great for being what a protein powder should be: clean and smooth. For a vegan protein powder recipe, this may be the very easiest:  I took 1 cup cashew milk, unsweetened, 1 scoop Water Lentils Superfood, 1 ripe banana, and 4 ice cubes.  I blended this together literally in seconds.  Delicious! To buy Water Lentils Superfood, click here and use code healthyRD to save 20%.

Real Source Immunity Boost Review

For an extra health boost, I tried the Real Source Immunity Boost made with water lentils, organic lemon juice powder, organic amla, organic ginger root, organic echinacea, organic acerola extract, organic reishi mushroom, organic shitake mushroom, and organic cordyceps mushroom. I love that it is full of adaptogen mushrooms and immune-supporting plants like ginger, acerola, and echinacea.

How does it taste? Very similar to Water Lentils Superfood; it has a slightly tangy lemon flavor and slightly earthy flavor of mushrooms, which I love.  I tried a scoop in the vegan protein recipe I mentioned in the Water Lentils Superfood review.  It tasted great!  I even tasted a little of the powder straight: and its very mild, tangy, earthy, all things I love.

I will find myself using this in all my smoothie recipes and am excited to add this into a homemade protein bar too! While I can’t compare other brands of water lentils protein powders or immunity boost powders because this is the only brand, I am super pleased with these two healthy protein powders.

To buy Real Source Immunity Boost, click here and use code healthyRD to save 20%.


Water lentils are a superfood plant protein that contain all the essential amino acids and so they qualify as the best of vegan meal replacement shakes. They are also one of the best food sources of lutein out there and are perfect for a keto diet plan, a mito food plan, and a low lectin diet. Try adding water lentils to your favorite recipes to increase the fiber, antioxidants, protein, omega 3’s,  iron, and zinc content.

They are great for your vegan protein powder recipes, and  are undoubtedly going to be a big part of the sustainable food options of the future. Water lentil milk is also slated to hit the market soon, so stay tuned.

Want some effective tips to manage your eczema? Read all about autoimmune conditions and how to naturally treat eczema in this post: Is Eczema an Autoimmune Disease?  Natural Treatment Options Eczema on neck of a young woman by The Healthy RD Would you like to empower your health and ditch toxins from your home?  Get a Natural Solutions Kit today.

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