Recent media have suggested that lectins, found in legumes and grains, can be toxic to one’s gut, and may even lead to autoimmune disorders such as Crohn's disease and celiac disease. Jacalyn See, clinical dietitian at Mayo Clinic debunks this myth and explains why we shouldn’t eliminate this nutritious carbohydrate-binding protein from our diet.
Lectins are found in all foods, but are most concentrated in legumes and grains. They can be toxic, but only if eaten raw! Cooking completely denatures lectins; in fact, boiling legumes in water eliminates almost all lectin activity, and canning beans is just as effective. Moreover, whole grains and legumes are a powerhouse of nutrients, rich in B vitamins, iron, and fiber which are often difficult to get in restrictive diets such as a gluten-free diet. The lectin-rich foods we consume, like grains and legumes, are almost always cooked in some way beforehand and this leaves only a negligible amount of lectins, making these foods safe to eat for the majority of people. The benefits of these healthy nutrients far outweigh the negative effects of trace amounts of lectins.
Learn more about celiac disease at mayoclinic.org/celiacdisease.
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