Are Lectins Dangerous?

by Jo-Ann Heslin, MA, RD, CDN on May 9, 2019 · 0 comments

Never heard of them? Most people haven’t either. But there are websites warning against eating beans and whole grains, a major source, because lectins incite chemical warfare in the body causing digestive problems, weight gain, high cholesterol, arthritis, brain fog and adult acne. It is a wonder most humans haven’t already perished.

First, there is no research to support the theory that lectins are damaging to the human body. In plants, lectins are one of a group of compounds that defend against invaders. Raw lectins have been shown to damage the gut of animals fed raw beans or pure lectins, but we cook, ferment, or sprout beans and we process and cook grains, all of which deactivates most lectins.

One exception may be slow cookers or low temperature, long-cooked casseroles that may not reach a high enough temperature to break down all of the lectins in dry beans. That may lead to nausea, vomiting and diarrhea that can last for several hours. To avoid this possible problem, soak dry beans for at least 5 hours, pour off the water, and boil for 10 minutes in fresh water. Then finish cooking in a slow cooker, oven or on the stove. Canned beans are not an issue as they are already cooked.

Don’t be fooled by the lectin scare. Some of the healthiest populations in the world eat an ample amount of beans and whole grains.

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