Can you get sick from eating undercooked lentils? 

In this brief article, we are going to provide an answer to the question, “Can you get sick from eating undercooked lentils?”. Additionally, we will review the possible side effects of eating undercooked lentils, different types of lentils and the benefits of eating lentils. 

Can you get sick from eating undercooked lentils?

The obvious answer is yes, you can get sick from eating undercooked lentils. The lectin protein present in lentils can adhere to the digestive tract which can lead to a variety of gastrointestinal problems.

However, these proteins are broken down by heat during cooking, so it is recommended to thoroughly cook the food to enjoy a delicious as well as a safe meal.

Lentils and their benefits

Lentils are legumes that are high in protein, iron, magnesium, zinc and fibre, making them a good choice for vegans and vegetarians, and those trying to supplement their protein intake on a budget. 

Furthermore, the majority of the carbohydrates present in lentils are in the form of slowly digested starches, making them especially beneficial to individuals suffering from diabetes.

Lastly, people who suffer from gluten intolerance need not worry as lentils are gluten-free.

Different Types of Lentils

Classification of lentils is based upon their colour which can range from red and yellow to brown, green and black. Each type of lentil consists of its own unique composition of phytochemicals and antioxidants. The most common types of lentils include:

  • Beluga: These are black in colour and are used as a base for warm salads.
  • Yellow and red: Yellow and red lentils cook in a short time. They have a somewhat sweet and nutty taste.
  • Brown: Brown lentils are the most widely consumed type of lentils. These types of lentils have an earthy flavour. Their shape does not get distorted during cooking.
  • Puy: These lentils have a peppery flavour.
  • Green: Green lentils vary in size and usually are a more inexpensive substitute to the Puy lentils.

What causes sickness from eating undercooked lentils?

Raw and undercooked lentils contain lectin known as hemagglutinin. Hemagglutinin carries out the agglutination of red blood cells. This chemical is also known to disrupt cellular metabolism. 

Many species of lentils contain haemagglutinin; however, red beans have the highest quantities of hemagglutinin. 

White beans contain one-third as much hemagglutinin as red beans, whereas broad bean varieties contain only 10% of hemagglutinin. Still, that is sufficient, because it only takes four or five undercooked red kidney beans to get you sick.

Symptoms associated with eating undercooked lentils 

Symptoms associated with the consumption of undercooked beans can appear within three hours. The symptoms that will develop are the common food poisoning symptoms. These include: 

  • Nausea and/or Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Muscle weakness
  • Abdominal pain or cramps 
  • Fever and/or chills
  • Dehydration
  • Headaches
  • Blurred vision
  • Tingling arms

How to cook lentils? 

Always cook lentils according to package directions, which include: Soaking the lentils in water overnight, draining and replacing water before cooking and thorough cooking until the lentils are tender.

During the cooking procedure, you will probably have to add water numerous times to keep them covered with water. Also, avoid adding salt until they are done or nearly done, as salt will prevent them from becoming soft. 

To destroy the lectins in legumes, thoroughly boil them, then decrease to low heat. Boiling beans for an extended amount of time will reduce them to pieces.

Most lentils cook in almost 30 to 45 minutes depending on the type, while other beans such as kidney and black beans take 2 to 3 hours to prepare. 

Some lentils, such as brown and greens lentils, keep their shape after cooking, while the orange, yellow, and red varieties that have had their husks removed will fall apart and become unidentifiable.

How Can Lentils be Sprouted?

To sprout lentils, follow the steps below:

  • Soak the lentils in water for almost 12 hours or overnight before cooking.
  • Rinse thoroughly, drain in a strainer, remove any debris, and keep them in a shaded area. 
  • Make certain that no moisture is left. 
  • Rinse with tap water every 12 hours for 3 days, draining carefully after each rinse to eliminate all water to prevent mould growth.
  • They should sprout by the end of the third day.
  • Before using, thoroughly rinse sprouted lentils.
  • These sprouts will last for about a week in the refrigerator.

If lentils are soaked for an extended period of time, they begin to germinate, making them, if not deadly, at least more difficult to digest.

Find out How long are lentils good for.


In this short article, we have provided an answer to the question, “Can you get sick from eating undercooked lentils?”. Also, we have discussed the possible side of eating undercooked lentils, the benefits of eating lentils and different types of lentils.


Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.