Are Lectins in Beans Dangerous?

 Nutrition Diva explains whether beans might contain a hidden hazard. 

Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS
1-minute read

Q. You often recommend beans and legumes as good sources for fiber and vegetarian protein but I’ve read that the leptins in legumes can cause intestinal damage.  What’s the deal?

A. Lectins are proteins produced by most plants as a sort of natural pesticide. When consumed in sufficient quantity, lectins are irritating to the digestive tract—and this discourages insects and other animals from over-feeding on the plants.  Lectins can also cause digestive problems in humans (to a plant, humans are just really big pests!) and it is true that legumes contain relatively high concentrations of lectins.  However, cooking legumes (as well as soaking, sprouting, and/or fermenting them) renders the lectins largely harmless.  Seeing as dried beans and lentils aren’t really edible unless they’ve been cooked or sprouted first, I think the problem pretty much takes care of itself.

Related Content: Should You Soak Your Grains?

Beans image courtesy of Shutterstock


About the Author

Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS

Monica Reinagel is a board-certified licensed nutritionist, author, and the creator of one of iTunes' most highly ranked health and fitness podcasts. Her advice is regularly featured on the TODAY show, Dr. Oz, NPR, and in the nation's leading newspapers, magazines, and websites. Do you have a nutrition question? Call the Nutrition Diva listener line at 443-961-6206. Your question could be featured on the show.