Lectins are a family of proteins that may constitute up to 10% of the total protein content of legumes (15Trusted Source). They resist digestion and may affect the cells lining your intestinal tract.
One well-studied lectin is phytohemagglutinin, which is found in red kidney beans. It’s toxic in high amounts, and several incidents of poisoning have been reported after consumption of raw or improperly cooked kidney beans (16Trusted Source), as previously noted.
“Lectins are a type of protein found in all forms of life, including the food you eat.
In small amounts, they may provide several health benefits. However, larger amounts can reduce your body's ability to absorb nutrients.
This article reviews 6 foods that are particularly high in lectins and explains how you can make sure they don't reduce your nutrient absorption.
What are Lectins?
Lectins are a type of protein that can bind to sugar.
They're sometimes referred to as antinutrients. Animal studies suggest that certain lectins can reduce the body's ability to absorb nutrients. Lectins are thought to have evolved as a natural defense in plants, essentially as a toxin that deters animals from eating them (1Trusted Source).
Humans are unable to digest lectins, so they travel through your gut unchanged.
How they work remains a mystery, though animal research shows certain types of lectins bind to cells on the gut wall. This allows them to communicate with the cells, triggering a response.
Research suggests that plant lectins could even have a role in cancer therapy (3Trusted Source).
However, eating large amounts of certain types of lectins can damage the gut wall. This causes irritation that can result in symptoms like diarrhea and vomiting. It can also prevent the gut from absorbing nutrients properly.
The highest concentrations of lectins are found in healthy foods like legumes, grains, and nightshade vegetables. Luckily, there are several ways to reduce the lectin content of these healthy foods to make them safe to eat.
Below are 6 healthy foods that are high in lectins.
Red kidney beans
Red kidney beans are among the richest sources of plant-based protein.
They are also a great source of carbs that are low on the glycemic index (GI).
Red kidney beans contain many vital vitamins and minerals, such as iron, potassium, folate, and vitamin K1.
However, raw kidney beans also contain high levels of a lectin called phytohaemagglutinin.
If you eat them raw or undercooked, they can cause extreme nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. As few as five beans can cause a response.
A hemagglutinating unit (hau) is a measure of lectin content. In their raw form, red kidney beans contain 20,000–70,000 hau. Once they're thoroughly cooked, they contain only 200–400 hau, which is considered a safe level (4Trusted Source).
When properly cooked, red kidney beans are a valuable and nutritious food that shouldn't be avoided.
Peanuts are a type of legume that’s related to beans and lentils.
They are high in mono- and polyunsaturated fats, making them a great source of energy.
They are also high in protein and a wide range of vitamins and minerals, such as biotin, vitamin E, and thiamine.
Unlike some of the other foods on this list, the lectins in peanuts don't appear to be reduced by heating.
A study found that after participants ate 7 ounces (200 grams) of either raw or roasted peanuts, lectins were detected in their blood, indicating that they had crossed through from the gut (26Trusted Source).
One test-tube study found that peanut lectins increased growth in cancer cells (27Trusted Source).
This, alongside the evidence that peanut lectins can enter the bloodstream, has led some people to believe that lectins could encourage cancer to spread in the body.
However, the test-tube study above was carried out using high doses of pure lectins placed directly onto cancer cells. No studies have investigated their exact effects in humans.
Thus far, the evidence demonstrating peanuts' health benefits and role in cancer prevention is far stronger than any evidence of potential harm.”
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Read More … Article Source: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/foods-high-in-lectins#7
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