Lectin Free Foods: Research-Based Benefits and Lists to Consider - PharmEasy Blog (2024)

By Dr. Shubham Pandey +2more

Lectin Free Foods: Research-Based Benefits and Lists to Consider - PharmEasy Blog (1) Medically reviewed byDr. Shubham Pandey

Lectin Free Foods: Research-Based Benefits and Lists to Consider - PharmEasy Blog (2)Last updated: Apr 30, 2024

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Table of Contents

Key Highlights:

  • What are lectins? Definition, types, and functions
  • The Lectin-Free Diet: origins, what to eat and avoid, diet plans, and tips
  • Pros and Cons of a Lectin-Free Diet: potential health benefits, possible risks
  • Scientific Research on Lectins and Lectin-Free Diet: human, animal, and in vitro studies, criticisms, and controversies
  • Should You Try a Lectin-Free Diet? Who may benefit, considerations before starting


Ever heard of lectin-free diets or know anyone following one? Are they bad for your health? Do you need to remove them from your meals? But wait – what are lectins anyway? Stay with us as we explore lectins – their nature, possible health impacts, and the pros and cons of a lectin-free diet.

In this blog, firstly we will talk about what lectins free foods are and how they function. Then, we take a deep dive into the lectin-free diet, its origin, basic principles, and the lectin free foods toeat and avoid. We move forward, discussing the good and bad sides of the diet, leading us to its criticisms and controversies.

Lectin Free Foods: Research-Based Benefits and Lists to Consider - PharmEasy Blog (3)

Regardless of whether you desire to try lectin free diet or simply want to learn more, this blog will provide you with all the details you need. So, let’s get started.

Did you know?

  • The Lectin-Free Diet is not recommended for individuals with certain medical conditions, such as celiac disease. source: celiac.org
  • Lectins are carbohydrate-binding proteins found in a variety of commonly consumed foods. source: ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
  • A lectin-free diet may help improve symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and other gastrointestinal disorders. source: ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
  • The lectin content in foods can be reduced through proper cooking methods, such as soaking, fermenting, and pressure cooking. source: nutrition.org
  • Lectins are resistant to digestion and can bind to the lining of the gut, potentially leading to leaky gut syndrome. source: ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
  • The Lectin-Free Diet may lead to nutrient deficiencies if not properly balanced. source: eatright.org

What Are Lectins?

Definition and Types

Lectins are proteins found in many plants and some animal products. They can bind to carbohydrates, leading to various effects on human health. They can be majorly grouped into two types- plant lectins and animal lectins.

  • Plant Lectins

Plant lectins are in many foods. These include legumes (like beans, lentils, and peas), grains, and nightshade veggies like tomatoes, potatoes, and peppers. They help the plant safeguard against pests and herbivores.

  • Animal Lectins

Animal lectins are found mostly in animal offerings, especially in those from animals fed with corn or soy. They exist in meat, dairy products, and eggs.

Functions of Lectins

Lectins are vital in several biological processes. Some crucial functions are:

  • Cell communication: Lectins permit cells to identify and engage with each other by binding to specific carbohydrate molecules on the cell’s surface.
  • Immune system activity: Lectins are said to play a part in immune responses as they trigger inflammation when something is perceived as foreign by the body.
  • Growth and development: They might play a role in cell growth and development by helping cells differentiate and multiply correctly.

The Lectin-Free Diet

1. Origins of the Diet

The lectin-free diet was created by Dr. Steven Gundry. He was a heart surgeon but is now an author. His book “The Plant Paradox” talks about this diet. Dr. Gundry believes lectins can cause health problems like weight gain, digestion issues, brain fog, and constant inflammation. He thinks deleting or cutting down on the intake of lectin-containing foods leads to better health and weight loss.

But, here’s a little disclaimer. The wider scientific community hasn’t fully accepted this diet. Many experts think the harms of lectins are exaggerated. Despite this, quite a lot of people have reported positive outcomes from reducing or removing lectins from their meals.

2. What to Eat and Avoid

The main goal of this diet is to get rid of or minimize the intake of foods with high lectin content. The belief is that by doing this, individuals can dodge the possible health risks connected to eating lectins.

Foods High in Lectins

Foods full of lectins include:

  • Legumes: beans, lentils, peanuts, soybean
  • Grains: wheat, rice, barley, quinoa, and oats
  • Nightshade vegetables: tomatoes, potatoes, and peppers
  • Dairy products from cows
  • Meat, poultry, and seafood from animals that eat corn or soy

Foods Low in Lectins

Low-lectin food list allowed in the lectin-free diet includes:

  • Avocado
  • Asparagus
  • Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and Brussels sprouts
  • Celery
  • Cooked sweet potatoes
  • Garlic
  • Leafy green veggies
  • Mushrooms
  • Onion
  • Meat from animals that have been pasture-raised

3. Lectin Reduction Techniques

Choosing to consume lectin-containing foods isn’t all bad news. You should know how to cut down their lectin content through proper food prep. Methods include:

  • Soaking: You can soak beans and legumes overnight before cooking to cut down their lectin content.
  • Sprouting: By sprouting seeds, grains, and legumes, you can decrease lectin levels as it alters the plant’s biological makeup.
  • Cooking at high heat: Boiling, steaming, or other high-temperature cooking methods can break down some lectins and lower their effect.
  • Fermenting: Fermenting foods like sauerkraut and kimchi can reduce their lectin content.

Here’s a summary of how to prepare your food to reduce lectins:

To Reduce Lectins


Beans and legumes

Soak overnight

Seeds, grains


Foods with lectins

Cook at high temperatures



According to some studies, foods with lectin might make you gain weight. For instance, an excessive consumption of whole grains for longer periods might lower body mass index (BMI).

Dr. Siddharth Gupta, MD

Also Read: Foods to Avoid with IBS: A Comprehensive Dietary Guide Based on Research

Diet Plans and Tips

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all lectin-free diet plan, but here are a few tips to help you:

  • Plan your meals around low-lectin foods like leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, and pasture-raised meats.
  • Try new recipes that use allowed foods.
  • Use the correct food prep techniques to lower the lectin content in foods.
  • Write a food diary to keep track of any changes in digestion, energy levels, or other symptoms after reducing or removing lectins.
  • You can consult a registered dietitian or healthcare provider before starting this diet. This is especially true if you have underlying health conditions or concerns about nutrition.

In my opinion and what I have gathered through studies, consuming lectin lectin-free diet might affect your health negatively. Lectin is mainly found in plant-based foods like fruits, legumes, and vegetables which are also packed with other important nutrients. Thus, consuming a lectin-free diet for a longer time might not be beneficial for your health.

Dr. Rajeev Singh, BAMS

Pros and Cons of a Lectin-Free Diet

Starting a lectin-free diet has its ups and downs. Some people may see improved health and wellbeing, while others may find it too strict and hard to keep up with.

Health Benefits

Some people have reported that the diet helped their health. Here’s how it was found to be helpful:

  • Improved Digestive Health: Some people report better digestion, especially those with sensitive stomachs like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). They find less bloating, gas, and tummy pain when they avoid high-lectin foods.
  • Lesser Inflammation: Some studies connect lectins with inflammation. People who support the diet believe they can lower their risk of chronic inflammation and related health issues by cutting down on lectin intake.
  • Better Nutrient Absorption: By avoiding foods high in lectins, some people think they can take up nutrients better. They said this probably minimizes the digestive problems lectins may cause.

Potential Risks

But, like everything else, the lectin-free diet has some drawbacks:

  • Lack of nutrients: The lectin-free diet limits many foods high in nutrients. These include fruits, whole grains, and legumes. This might lead to less fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
  • Challenge maintaining a balanced diet: The diet can be challenging and hard to follow. It could be hard to maintain a balanced diet rich in many nutrient-rich foods.

Here’s a quick summary:



Improved digestive health

Lack of nutrients

Lesser inflammation

Hard to maintain a balanced diet

Better nutrient absorption

Scientific Research on Lectins and Lectin-Free Diet

Studies on lectins and lectin-free diets are limited. More research is needed to know their full effects on health.

1. Human Studies

Few studies have studied the impact of lectin intake on human health. Some suggest eating too many lectins might disrupt nutrient uptake. This can cause stomach issues and potentially contribute to inflammation.

2. Animal Studies

Quite a few animal studies have explored the effect of lectin intake on health. These provide mixed results in terms of the benefits and harm of dietary lectins.

3. In Vitro Studies

In vitro studies or test tube research have shown some possible effects of lectins inside the body. But, these findings might not apply to humans. So, they should be taken with a grain of salt.

4. Criticisms and Controversy

Some nutrition experts and medical professionals criticize the diet. They argue that the threats of lectins are exaggerated. They also say there’s no clear evidence to support removing lectin-rich foods from the diet completely.

Should You Try a Lectin-Free Diet?

1. Who will Benefit

If you have the following health issues, you may want to test this diet under the guidance of a healthcare professional:

2. People with Digestive Sensitivities

People with sensitive stomachs like IBS may find that avoiding high-lectin foods can help. It may reduce symptoms like bloating, gas, and tummy pain.

3. Those with Autoimmune Disorders

Some studies suggest lectins could lead to inflammation. Inflammation might trigger autoimmune responses in the body. People with autoimmune disorders might benefit from trying this diet to manage their symptoms.

However, it’s always suggested that you speak to your healthcare provider before starting a new diet, especially if you suffer from any medical condition or take any medication.

4. Considerations Before Starting the Diet

Before starting the diet, remember these things:

  • Talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian. You need to check if a lectin-free diet is right for you.
  • Be ready for significant dietary changes. The diet limits or removes many common foods.
  • Educate yourself about how to prep food right to reduce lectin content. This includes soaking, sprouting, and cooking.
  • Watch your nutrient intake. Some nutrient deficiencies may happen due to avoiding or minimising lectin-rich foods.


Finally, choosing to try a lectin-free diet is up to you and your healthcare provider. Some people say they digest better and are healthier when they avoid high-lectin foods. But, others may find the diet too strict and hard to keep up with. It’s crucial to balance the positives and negatives of this lifestyle change before committing. Always consult with your healthcare provider to ensure your dietary needs are met.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Are all lectins harmful to humans?

No, all lectins are not bad for humans. Most are harmless and a few even offer health benefits. However, some people have reported that a lectin-free diet helped their health by improving digestion and possibly controlling inflammation. With proper food prep, we can greatly cut down or remove any harm caused by some lectins.

Can I still maintain a balanced diet on a lectin-free diet?

Yes, you can maintain a balanced diet on a lectin-free plan. But, doing so needs careful planning. Consider the nutrients available in foods you’ve limited. You need to ensure that you get enough fiber, vitamins, and minerals despite the diet restrictions.

Are there any additional side effects of a lectin-free diet?

Besides potential nutrient lack, some people may face side effects. This could include constipation, tiredness, and mood swings. Lack of carbs and fiber in the diet may cause this.

How can I reduce lectins in my diet?

You can lower your intake of lectins by avoiding certain foods and properly preparing those you do eat. Techniques include soaking, sprouting, and high-heat cooking can help cut down lectin content in certain foods. Fermenting can also help with this.

Are eggs high in lectin?

Eggs are not full of lectins. Chickens raised on pasture and not fed grains or soy produce eggs that contain little to no lectins.

How do lectins work?

Lectins are proteins found in plants that can bind to carbohydrates. They may affect digestion and nutrient absorption in the body, though their exact mechanisms are still under research scrutiny.

Are lectin foods bad for you?

While lectin-containing foods can be part of a balanced diet for many individuals, some may experience digestive discomfort or inflammation. Moderation and attention to personal tolerance levels are key. It’s advisable to consult with a healthcare professional for personalized guidance on managing your diet and any related health concerns.

What foods are lectin blockers?

Foods like legumes, whole grains, and certain vegetables contain lectin blockers such as resistant starches, fiber, and certain compounds like polyphenols. These components can help mitigate the effects of lectins in the body.

Are lectins inflammatory?

Yes, lectins, a type of protein found in many plant foods, can trigger inflammation in some individuals due to their ability to bind to cells in the body. However, the extent of inflammation varies among people and depends on factors like individual sensitivity and the amount consumed.

Are lectins destroyed by cooking?

Yes, cooking can partially destroy lectins in foods, especially when using methods like boiling, steaming, or pressure cooking. However, some lectins may still remain resistant to heat, so thorough cooking is advisable to reduce their potential effects.

Are lectins in tomatoes bad for you?

Lectins in tomatoes, primarily found in their seeds and skin, can cause digestive issues or discomfort in some individuals, especially when consumed in large amounts. However, for most people, the lectins in tomatoes are generally not considered harmful and can be safely consumed as part of a balanced diet.It’s advisable to consult with a healthcare professional for personalized guidance on managing your diet and any related health concerns.

Are lectins bad for arthritis?

While some anecdotal evidence suggests that reducing lectin intake might alleviate arthritis symptoms for some individuals, scientific research on this topic is limited and inconclusive. More studies are needed to determine the precise relationship between lectin consumption and arthritis.

Are lectins in beans bad for you?

Lectins in beans can cause digestive discomfort for some people, especially if beans are consumed raw or undercooked. However, cooking beans thoroughly can significantly reduce lectin levels, making them safe and nutritious to eat as part of a balanced diet for most individuals.

Is peanut butter high in lectins?

Peanut butter contains lectins, primarily in the form of peanut lectin. However, the levels of lectins in peanut butter are generally lower compared to whole peanuts, and for most people, consuming peanut butter in moderation is not likely to cause significant issues related to lectin intake.

Is basmati rice high in lectins?

Basmati rice contains lectins, like most grains, but compared to other rice varieties, its lectin content is relatively low. Proper cooking techniques such as rinsing and soaking can further reduce lectin levels, making basmati rice a suitable option for those concerned about lectin intake.

Is tofu high in lectin

Tofu, made from soybeans, contains lectins, but the levels are generally considered moderate. Cooking tofu thoroughly can help reduce lectin content, making it safe for consumption for most people, including those concerned about lectin intake.

Is corn high in lectins?

Corn contains lectins, primarily concentrated in the outer hull and germ of the kernel. However, cooking corn thoroughly, such as boiling or roasting, can effectively reduce lectin levels, making it safe to consume for most individuals as part of a balanced diet.

Are chia seeds high in lectins?

Chia seeds contain lectins, but they are typically present in lower amounts compared to other seeds and legumes. Soaking or grinding chia seeds can further reduce lectin levels, making them generally safe for consumption as part of a varied and balanced diet.

Are lentils lectins?

Yes, lentils contain lectins, which are a type of protein. However, the lectin content in lentils is generally considered moderate, and cooking them thoroughly can help reduce lectin levels, making lentils a nutritious part of a balanced diet for most people.

What are the symptoms of too much lectin?

Consuming too many lectins can potentially cause digestive discomfort, such as bloating, gas, and diarrhea, especially in sensitive individuals. However, symptoms may vary depending on individual tolerance levels and the amount of lectin consumed.

Are almonds high in lectins?

Almonds contain lectins, primarily found in the skin. However, levels are relatively low, and processing methods like blanching or roasting can further reduce lectin content, making almonds generally safe for consumption as part of a balanced diet.

What foods contain lectins?

Foods high in lectins include legumes like beans, lentils, and peanuts, as well as grains such as wheat, rice, and barley. Additionally, nightshade vegetables like tomatoes, potatoes, and eggplants, along with nuts and seeds, also contain lectins. Proper cooking and processing methods can help mitigate lectin levels in these foods.

Does lectin free diet works?

The effectiveness of a lectin-free diet varies among individuals. While some claim benefits such as reduced inflammation and improved digestion, scientific evidence supporting its overall efficacy is limited. Consulting with a healthcare professional before adopting such a diet is advisable for personalized guidance.

Do all foods have lectin?

Not all foods contain lectins, but many commonly consumed foods do contain varying levels of lectins, which are proteins found in plants. Lectins are particularly abundant in grains, legumes, nightshade vegetables, and certain fruits. However, the levels of lectins can vary depending on factors such as cooking methods and processing.

Is quiona high in lectins?

Quinoa contains lectins, as it is a seed from a plant. However, compared to other grains and legumes, quinoa has lower levels of lectins. Proper cooking methods such as rinsing and boiling can further reduce lectin content, making quinoa a suitable option for those concerned about lectin intake.

Is lectin gluten free?

Yes, lectin is gluten-free. Lectins are proteins found in many plants, while gluten is a protein found specifically in wheat, barley, and rye. However, some foods high in lectins may also contain gluten, so individuals with gluten sensitivities should still be cautious and read labels carefully.

Is lectin a glycoprotein?

Yes, lectin is a type of glycoprotein. Glycoproteins are proteins that have carbohydrate molecules attached to them, and lectins are characterized by their ability to bind specifically to certain sugar molecules. This interaction plays a role in various biological processes, including cell-cell recognition and immune system functioning.

Is lectin wheat?

No, lectin is not wheat itself. Lectins are a type of protein found in various plants, including wheat. They play a role in plant defense mechanisms and can also interact with human cells upon consumption. However, wheat is a specific type of grain that contains lectins among its other components.

Are carrot high in lectin?

Carrots have some lectins, but they’re not as high compared to other plants. Cooking them by boiling or steaming lowers the lectin levels, making carrots generally safe to eat, even for those avoiding lectins.

Which milk is lectin free?

Coconut milk and almond milk are generally considered lectin-free options. They are made from coconuts and almonds, which are not known for containing significant levels of lectins. However, it’s essential to check labels for added ingredients.

Which bread are lectin free?

Sourdough bread made from traditional fermentation methods is often considered lower in lectins compared to other types of bread. This fermentation process helps break down some of the lectins present in the grains used to make the bread, potentially making it a better option for those looking to reduce lectin intake. However, individual tolerance may vary, and it’s advisable to check with a healthcare professional or nutritionist for personalized advice.


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  2. National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI). Reaction of Lectin-Specific Antibody with Human Tissue: Possible Contributions to Autoimmunity [Internet]. [cited 2023 Sep 19]. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7036108
  3. National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI). Structure-function and application of plant lectins in disease biology and immunity [Internet]. [cited 2023 Sep 19]. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7115788
  4. National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI). 35 years in plant lectin research: a journey from basic science to applications in agriculture and medicine [Internet]. [cited 2023 Sep 19]. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8383723
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Lectin Free Foods: Research-Based Benefits and Lists to Consider - PharmEasy Blog (2024)


What are the three foods Dr. Gundry says to eat? ›

What foods does Dr. Gundry recommend? Overall, Dr. Gundry recommends a diet that relies on pasture-raised meats and eggs; fermented foods like sauerkraut; limited fruit; foods high in resistant starches, such as green beans; vegetables that are not in the nightshade family; and healthy fats such as olive oil.

Is lectin-free diet legit? ›

Despite many claims, no scientific evidence shows that eliminating dietary lectins will cure any medical disorders or conditions, including autoimmune diseases.

What are the worst foods for lectins? ›

These six foods are some of the worst sources of lectins in the American diet when consumed raw.
  1. Raw Kidney Beans. Red kidney beans are a great source of plant-based protein and they are a low-glycemic-index food. ...
  2. Peanuts. ...
  3. Whole Grains. ...
  4. Raw Soybeans. ...
  5. Raw Potatoes.

What cancels out lectins? ›

Active lectins are what's found in raw plants. But boiling, baking, pressure-cooking and soaking can deactivate those lectins, so they're not going to have the same effect as they would if you ate them raw. Fermentation, sprouting and removing peels and seeds can also reduce the amount of active lectin in plant foods.

How do you flush lectins out of your body? ›

The best ways to mitigate the toxic effects of lectins are traditional food preparation methods, which include soaking, sprouting, and fermenting grains and legumes. You can ferment flour before cooking with it. Sourdough bread and a traditional flatbread from India called dosa are both made from fermented flours.

What carbs have no lectin in them? ›

Millet, Fonio, Sorghum, and Teff – The 4 Lectin-Free and Gluten-Free Grains. Before we get an overview of each of these four grains, this is what's generally common about millet, fonio, sorghum, and teff: They are ancient grains, originating in Africa.

What foods repair lectin damage? ›

There are plenty of naturally occurring lectin-blocking compounds in common foods, which means you can integrate them into your diet with relative ease. The top six natural lectin-blocking foods that you should consume more of are okra, crustaceans, bladderwrack (seaweed), pigs feet, cranberries and kiwifruit.

How do you know if lectins bother you? ›

Lectins and the immune system

This means that when lectins enter our bloodstream, they can stimulate an immune system response. Some foods—especially if improperly prepared—can trigger a very obvious immune response. This can cause inflammation of the digestive tract, possibly leading to nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting.

What should I eat before bed to lose weight? ›

12 Best Foods to Eat at Night for Weight Loss
  • Protein Shake. The best bedtime snacks are filling but not too heavy. ...
  • Turkey. Ever feel especially tired after a big Thanksgiving feast? ...
  • Banana & Almond Butter. ...
  • Nuts & Seeds. ...
  • Yogurt or Cottage Cheese & Fruit. ...
  • A Bowl of Oatmeal. ...
  • Egg Wraps. ...
  • Popcorn.
Apr 18, 2024

Are eggs high in lectins? ›

Eggs are not full of lectins. Chickens raised on pasture and not fed grains or soy produce eggs that contain little to no lectins. How do lectins work? Lectins are proteins found in plants that can bind to carbohydrates.


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