Grains, legumes, and beans, such as kidney beans, lima beans, black beans, soybeans, and lentils, have high amounts of lectins. Other foods with high amounts of lectins include wheat and seeds of the grass family, such as barley, buckwheat, corn, millet, oats, and rye, legumes, including peanuts, and soy, nightshade vegetables, such as peppers, eggplant, and potatoes as well as dairy products, especially those originating from grain-fed animals. In the following article, we will discuss the most harmful lectins.
Table of Contents
Most Harmful Lectins to Avoid
Most lectins can trigger inflammation and develop what is known as “advanced glycation end-products. C-reactive protein, by way of instance, is one of many lectins found in the human body that is used as an inflammatory marker. Lectins are considered to be immunotoxic because they can stimulate a hyperimmune response. Lectins are also considered to be neurotoxic and cytotoxic because they can damage nerves and cells, ultimately causing apoptosis or cell death, among other well-known health issues.
Moreover, lectins can increase blood viscosity by attaching to red blood cells. This makes red blood cell “sticky” which can result in abnormal blood clotting. Several lectins, such as WGA, can also affect endocrine function and change gene expression. Lectins may even promote leptin resistance, ultimately increasing the risk of excess weight and obesity. These factors can increase the risk of developing other health issues. If you believe you may have any health issues caused by eating lectins, you may want to avoid:
- Corn-fed meats including most meats sold in grocery stores. Avoid eating factory farmed, corn-fed meat by eating certified grass-fed meat labeled by the American Grass-fed Association.
- Cashews, peanuts, and unfermented soybean products. Eat fermented varieties, such as miso, natto, tamari, and tempeh.
- Milk with casein A1. Casein A2 is the normal protein found in milk from buffalo, goats, sheep and some Jersey cows. Unfortunately, most cows produce casein A1 and most store-bought milk has casein A1, even if it’s organic. Casein A1 proteins develop beta-casomorphin that can attach to beta cells in the pancreas and result in an autoimmune response. Drink raw milk from organic, grass-fed, casein A2-producing cows. Jersey cows may produce either casein A1 or A2, so make sure to check with the farmer to confirm the type of milk being produced. Avoid milk from Holsteins because they produce casein A1.
How to Make High-Lectin Foods Safe to Eat
After eliminating foods with high amounts of lectins from your diet, you can further decrease lectins in your diet by:
- Peeling and deseeding fruits and vegetables. The skin, or hull, and seeds of many fruits and vegetables have high amounts of lectins. By way of instance, you’ll want to remove the seeds from tomatoes and peppers before eating them.
- Choosing white grains over brown grains. Healthcare professionals suggest that white rice is preferable over brown rice because “those who eat rice as their staple grain have always stripped the hull off brown rice before they eat it. That’s because the hull contains all the harmful lectins.” Avoid lectins by choosing organic grains and using yeast or sourdough which effectively breaks down gluten and other harmful lectins.
- Sprouting grains, beans, and seeds. Sprouting deactivates lectins although there are several exceptions. Do not sprout legumes. By way of instance, lectins are actually enhanced when sprouting alfalfa.
- Eating fermented foods. Fermentation effectively decreases harmful lectins. A wide variety of vegetables can be fermented, ultimately boosting their health benefits.
- Using a pressure cooker. The best way to neutralize lectins when cooking is to use a pressure cooker. Healthcare professionals recommend that, “If you’re cooking with beans, tomatoes, potatoes and quinoa, the pressure cooker is your best bet however, it won’t even touch the lectins in wheat, oats, rye, barley or spelt.” Avoid slow cookers since the low cooking temperatures are insufficient to remove lectins.
Tips to Decrease Lectins in Beans and Potatoes
If you choose to eat beans, it’s important to prepare and cook them properly because eating raw or undercooked beans can be harmful towards your overall health. Phytohemagglutinin is a toxin commonly found in many varieties of beans and they are especially high in raw, red kidney beans. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) eating as few as four or five raw beans may cause phytohemagglutinin toxicity. To decrease lectins in high-lectin foods, consider doing the following including:
- Soaking beans in water for at least 12 hours before cooking, making sure to change the water frequently. Adding baking soda to the soaking water will further neutralize lectins in beans.
- Discarding the soaking water and rinsing the beans.
- Cooking for at least 15 minutes on high heat or using a pressure cooker.
Lectins in potatoes, which are a member of the nightshade family, can also be reduced by cooking, although only by 50 to 60 percent. On a positive note, however, most potatoes have digestive-resistant starch which consists of complex starch molecules that resist digestion in your small intestine. These starches slowly ferment in the large intestine where they act as prebiotics that feed healthy gut bacteria. Because of this, healthcare professionals believe that we should only limit and not eliminate lectins from our diet.
Why You Should Only Limit & Not Eliminate Lectins
Healthcare professionals believe that lectin damage is associated with glyphosate contamination. Scientists make a strong case against lectins due to their potential to be harmful to your overall health. Given the number of foods with high amounts of lectins, however, it would be almost impossible to completely eliminate them from your diet. The list of lectins found in vegetables alone is lengthy and several lectins can actually provide a variety of health benefits if these are consumed in moderation.
Many vegetables with high amounts of lectins also have polyphenols which are micronutrients with antioxidants that play a fundamental role in preventing and reducing the progression of diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and neurodegenerative conditions. Polyphenols are also considered to be prebiotics because they increase the ratio of beneficial bacteria in your gut, which is another important factor for disease prevention and weight management, among providing various other well-known health benefits.
Lectins are proteins in plant- and animal-sources that can be harmful to a person’s overall health because they can attach to cell membranes. Grains, legumes, and beans, such as kidney beans, lima beans, black beans, soybeans, and lentils, have high amounts of lectins. Other foods with high amounts of lectins include wheat and seeds of the grass family, such as barley, buckwheat, corn, millet, oats, and rye, legumes, including peanuts, and soy, nightshade vegetables, such as peppers, eggplant, and potatoes as well as dairy products, especially those originating from grain-fed animals.According to healthcare professionals, eating too many foods with high amounts of lectins can cause nerve damage, lead to cell death, and even promote inflammation while others can change blood viscosity, interrupt endocrine function, and even affect gene expression. However, healthcare professionals argue that eating some foods with lectins can be beneficial as long as these are cooked and consumed properly. – Dr. Alex Jimenez D.C., C.C.S.T. Insight
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