Worst Foods High in Lectins (2024)

A lectin, also known as the “antinutrient” is a type of protein that binds to certain carbohydrates. Just about every organism in the world, from plants to animals to microbes, contains lectins.

There are many types of lectins, and some are completely safe, while others may pose health risks. The difference depends on the amount of lectins present and what type of carbohydrates bind to them.

Not every lectin is dangerous in the same way. In fact, many types of lectins pass through your digestive system unchanged. And, while the lectins found in plants are considered edible and are usually harmless, they can sometimes still affect your health.

Further, while lectins aren’t affected by digestive enzymes, they are easily broken down by heat. Boiling sources of lectins for just five to 10 minutes appears to reduce lectins’ abilities to bind entirely.

Why You Should Avoid Lectins

Lectins are sometimes dangerous because of how they bind to carbohydrates like sugar. You should avoid certain types of lectins due to a risk of:

Malnutrition

Certain types of lectins can prevent your body from absorbing other substances that have nutritional value. This can eventually lead to serious problems such as malnutrition.

Poisoning

Some sources of lectins are considered seriously poisonous. Castor beans, for example, contain a potent lectin poison called ricin.

Damage to the Digestive System

Certain types of lectin may bind with the walls of your digestive system which can lead to serious problems. Eating one particular lectin, phytohemagglutinin, can lead to severe abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Potential Risk of Auto-immune Response

Some proponents of lectin-free diets claim that lectins can cause symptoms of auto-immune disorders. However, studies are still being done to confirm or deny this idea. Currently, there is no scientific consensus backing up the idea that lectins are connected to any health conditions outside of acute lectin poisoning.

Foods With Lectins

Lectins can be found in many foods that are part of the average American diet. Many sources of lectins are also good sources of important nutrients. Understanding what foods may be dangerous raw can help you remain healthier, longer.

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. However, it’s critical that you boil them thoroughly before you eat them.Eating raw or undercooked kidney beans exposes you to an incredibly high level of phytohemagglutinin. Cooking beans thoroughly reduces the activity of this lectin to undetectable levels.

2. Peanuts

Peanuts are another form of legume, and like kidney beans, they contain lectins. Peanut lectins can be detected in the blood after eating peanuts in large amounts. While no studies have been done to determine whether this has health effects, it does show that peanut lectins are absorbed by the body.

3. Whole Grains

Raw wheat and other whole grains are high in lectins. Raw wheat germ, which is often sold as a source of fiber, can contain as much as 300 mcg of wheat lectins per gram. If you’re trying to avoid lectins, do not eat raw whole grains.

4. Raw Soybeans

Soybeans are another legume that’s full of lectins. However, unlike some other legumes, soybeans are often eaten toasted or roasted. This type of dry heat does not appear to be as effective at breaking down lectins as boiling. Be cautious when eating raw or toasted soybeans if you are avoiding lectins.

5. Raw Potatoes

Potatoes are part of the nightshade family and contain high levels of lectins. Raw potatoes, in particular the skin, appear to contain potentially harmful lectins that may affect your health.

More studies need to be done to see whether these lectins are the cause of health problems after eating raw potatoes in humans.

Lectin-Free Alternatives

All of the above foods have associated health benefits as well as lectins. In most cases, cooking these foods with “wet” heat, such as stewing, boiling, cooking in sauce, or mixing into dough and baking, breaks down lectins to negligible levels. Simply avoid eating raw legumes, grains, or potatoes, and eat these foods cooked instead.

Worst Foods High in Lectins (2024)

FAQs

What foods are the highest in lectins? ›

Some of the most common high-lectin plant foods include:
  • peanuts.
  • pumpkin.
  • soy.
  • squash.
  • tomatoes.
  • wheat.
  • wild rice.
  • zucchini.
Feb 12, 2024

What cancels out lectins? ›

The four methods to reduce lectin content in foods are: peeling and deseeding, soaking, pressure-cooking, and fermentation.

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.

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.

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.

Are eggs full of 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.

What are the symptoms of too much lectin? ›

Research suggests that plant lectins could even have a role in cancer therapy ( 3 ). 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.

Are bananas high in lectins? ›

Some fruits, such as bananas and apples, contain lectins, but they are generally found in lower amounts compared to lectin-rich foods like grains and legumes.

Does coffee have lectins? ›

Lectin is a carbohydrate-binding protein that can be found in varying amounts in most plants, including beans, pulses, grains, fruits and vegetables (eg, potatoes, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, zucchini, carrots, berries, watermelon), nuts, coffee, chocolate, and some herbs and spices (eg, peppermint, marjoram, nutmeg).

What is the one food we should all stop eating? ›

1. Processed meat. Processed meats contain added nitrates and other chemical substances that are bad for your health. Certain processed meats like sausages are made from leftover unwanted parts of animals and often contain high amounts of salt and fat.

What is the number one unhealthiest food? ›

1. Bacon
  • Fried food. ...
  • Potato chips. ...
  • Added sugars. ...
  • Processed oils. Try to cut processed oils out of your diet as much as possible. ...
  • Hydrogenated fats. This category of fats lurks in many packaged foods and fast food products. ...
  • Refined carbohydrates. Advertisem*nt. ...
  • Breakfast sausages. Advertisem*nt. ...
  • Processed meat. Advertisem*nt.
Jan 30, 2022

Are blueberries high in lectins? ›

Lectin-free fruits include pomegranates, lemons, beets, blackberries, blueberries, apples, plums, sweet oranges, tangerines, and dates.

What kills lectin? ›

The body can produce enzymes during digestion that degrades some lectins. Other processes that deactivate the compounds are sprouting grains and beans, and mechanically removing the outer hull of beans and wheat grains that contain the most lectins.

What vegetable has no lectins? ›

According to Gundry, these foods are low in lectins and OK to eat on a lectin-free diet.
  • Avocado.
  • Asparagus.
  • Broccoli, Brussels sprouts and other cruciferous vegetables.
  • Celery.
  • Cooked sweet potatoes.
  • Garlic.
  • Leafy green vegetables.
  • Mushrooms.
Aug 16, 2023

What blocks lectins in the body? ›

Because of their precise carbohydrate specificities, lectins can be blocked by simple sugars and oligosaccharides. Wheat lectin, for example, is blocked by the sugar N-acetyl glucosamine and its polymers. These natural compounds are potentially exploitable as drugs should lectin induced diseases be identified.

Are bananas high in lectin? ›

If you are on a lectin friendly diet, you are also allowed to enjoy green bananas, but not ripe bananas as they contain lectins in addition to the high amount of sugar. Sorghum is a great source of fiber (resistant starch) and low in lectins in comparison to barley, brown rice, quinoa, and whole wheat.

What vegetables have bad lectins? ›

Lectins are naturally occurring proteins that are found in most plants. Some foods that contain higher amounts of lectins include beans, peanuts, lentils, tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, fruits, and wheat and other grains.

What destroys lectins? ›

Cooking with wet, high-heat methods like boiling, stewing, or soaking can deactivate most lectins. When it comes to the lectins in nuts and seeds, these are water-soluble and found on the outer surface so exposure to water removes them.

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