I have discussed lectin in foods before on my site. I have found I am sensitive to lectin in that it can cause leaky gut or intestinal permeability in me. Lectin could be problematic for you too, and you may not even realize it is. But, what is lectin and which food is culprit?
Even if you are vegetarian, you might not feel well or be able to figure out why. Lectin is in highest concentration in skin, hull and seeds of certain plant-based whole food. Vegetarians are known to crave extra calories and overdo fatty foods like nuts, seeds and avocados.
Seeds are the plant’s babies. As with any mother, it wants its young to survive. That’s where lectin comes in repelling plant predators like us who prey on them by eating handfuls if not bags of seeds, nuts, nightshades and legumes.
Therefore, we must be aware of food high in lectin so we can either limit, avoid or try to reduce the potency in the food itself. This can be done by cooking it thoroughly, removing the skin off nuts and seeds and scraping seeds out of vegetables like cucumbers and squash. This will often reduce the potency of the lectin, but not eliminate it entirely.
If you have mysterious aches and pains, lectin may be one cause. Lectin can be potentially pro-inflammatory, immuno-toxic and neurotoxic. You might want to consider limiting or excluding lectin containing foods entirely from your diet. First, you have to know which foods lectin is in.
The most problematic foods with highest amounts of lectin are…
- Corn and especially grains like wheat
- Corn fed meat (avoid meat anyway because of bad cholesterol)
- Milk (dairy is one of the worst foods you can possibly eat)
- Peanuts (a legume)
- Cashews (also, a legume. I stopped eating these and peanuts because I discovered through a ‘elimination diet’ they caused me problems)
- Red Kidney Beans (very high in lectin)
- Unfermented soy beans (tofu OK, but very fatty. But, avoid soy milk and soy beans)
- For best health, avoid the above
Hold on, there are more lectin containing foods…
- Legumes like beans, peas and lentils
- Whole grains
- Nightshade fruits and vegetables like tomatoes, tomatillos, eggplant, bell peppers and potatoes just to name a few
- Squash and zucchini
Relatively safe lower lectin content…
- Olives (don’t eat too many, as they are fatty)
- Sweet potatoes
- All your leafy greens are OK
- Broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower and Brussels sprouts
- Avocado (limit them because of fat content)
To limit lectin exposure, make sure you avoid the higher lectin containing foods listed above. But, if you just have to buy nuts and seeds, get them roasted, not raw. And, of course unsalted. But, try to limit them as they can cause weight gain because of high fat content.
Cook lectin containing vegetables and grain well. Don’t buy green potatoes, but do cook them thoroughly. Also, make sure you cook beans as long as possible.
‘Ingestion of the lectins present in certain improperly cooked vegetables can result in acute GI tract distress, but the mechanism of toxicity is unknown|1 ncbi.nlm.nih.gov|’.
I always steam vegetables like yellow squash and zucchini. When I make my chili and beans, I boil the pinto beans first. Then, I let them soak for about an hour in the hot water. After that, I cook them overnight (for 24 hours with spices, etc.) on low in my crock pot.
I am one who needs to be particularly careful with lectin-containing foods because I am prone to symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and gout. These are painful conditions!
As far as I’m concerned, the studies on lectin is no ‘fake news’. I learned when I don’t eat peanuts, cashews, wheat, corn, barley, rye, dairy, red kidney beans and soy products like soy milk and phony ‘soy’ meat, and too many seeds like pumpkin and sunflower on my salads, I don’t come down with all those mysterious bodily aches and pains like I used to. When I reintroduce these, I experience generalized inflammation throughout my body, including joints and muscles.
Although, essential fatty acids come from seeds and nuts, it is best to limit them to no more than a small handful a day or so, which is about 1 oz. Alternatively, you could sprinkle a small amount of flax-seed powder on your food a couple of times a week. If you are a vegetarian, don’t forget to take your B12.
1 URL ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1933252/
Website Title PLoS ONE
Publication Year 2007
Date Accessed April 27, 2018
Further reading- for more about Lectin visit en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lectin
Note- before you change your diet contact your doctor.