Table of Contents[Hide][Show]
“Beans, beans, good for your heart…”
You probably remember that little chant that was popular among second graders, at least at my elementary school. It lightheartedly reminds us of the cardiovascular benefits of eating legumes… among other things!
Turns out that there may be some truth in the old nursery rhyme. While it’s true that beans contain certain heart-healthy benefits (and on the downside, yes, they can cause flatulence as well), the health benefits of beans are not quite so cut and dried.
Why Are Beans Controversial?
Vegans and vegetarians often rely on black beans, lentils, and other bean varieties as their main source of protein. However, diets like Paleo and keto avoid beans entirely because they contain controversial compounds called lectins.
There are also different grades of beans. While chickpeas (or garbanzo beans), navy beans and many others are a good source of B vitamins, most Americans get their fill of beans from unhealthy soy products, which are devoid of such beneficial nutrients.
Peanuts are also technically in the bean family, as they’re classified as a legume (and not a nut). Sadly, allergies to peanuts are on the rise, especially among children.
Here’s the lowdown on the pros and cons of eating certain types of beans, and how you can prepare them to maximize their nutritional value.
The Pros: Health Benefits of Beans
There are quite a few nutrients packed into the humble little bean. They’re rich in dietary fiber, they’re a great protein source, and they contain vitamins like folate and iron.
They are also generally low-fat and contain few calories, making them a staple in the Mediterranean diet and slow carb diet.
It also turns out that the second graders in my class were right: Beans may, in fact, be good for your heart health! One study found that pinto beans, in particular, helped to reduce LDL cholesterol, lowering the risk of heart disease.
Another study showed that eating baked beans helped reduce risk factors for type 2 diabetes, while other research finds that eating kidney beans can help reduce inflammation in the colon. And if you’re trying to lose weight, good news: yet another study found that bean consumption is associated with smaller waist circumference, lower body weight, and even reduced blood pressure.
But before you go crazy eating high fiber beans for every meal, we need to understand their risk factors, and how to mitigate it.
The Cons: Can Beans Be Unhealthy?
The biggest problem with beans is that they contain lectins, which are also present in high amounts in grains. Lectins essentially act as thorns do in rose bushes — as a protective measure for the plant. Instead of prickly deterrents that harm our skin, lectins assault our digestive systems, prompting predators (or consumers like us) to stay away.
One of the experts I look to most on this topic is Dr. Steven Gundry, renowned heart surgeon and author of the book The Plant Paradox. He explains in our podcast interview:
Lectins are a sticky plant protein, and they’re designed by plants as a defense mechanism against being eaten. These plants don’t want to be eaten… so one of the ways they fight against being eaten is to produce these lectins, which like to bind to specific sugar molecules in us or any of their predators. And those sugar molecules line the wall of our gut. They line the lining of our blood vessels, they line our joints. They line the spaces between nerves. And when lectins hit these places, they are a major cause of leaky gut. They can break down the gut wall barrier. They’re a major cause of arthritis, they’re a major cause of heart disease, and they’re a major cause, in my research, of autoimmune diseases.
We can understand from this that some lectins are more toxic than others, but all lectins have some effect on the body. This is the reason that grains, beans, and other lectin-containing foods cannot be eaten raw. In fact, ingesting even just a few raw kidney beans can cause vomiting and digestive problems.
Another problem with lectins is that they can contribute to obesity and diabetes. Lectins can bind to any carbohydrate-containing protein cells, including insulin and leptin receptors, desensitizing them. Without proper insulin and leptin function, problems like metabolic syndrome can emerge.
How to Reduce Lectins in Beans and Grains
Fortunately, it’s possible to reduce the number of lectins in beans and grains by using certain traditional cooking methods. Sprouting, fermenting, soaking, and pressure cooking are all useful ways to cut down on lectins, but keep in mind that none of these methods will remove the lectins completely. You can also buy certain brands that have taken some of these steps, so you don’t have to do any of the prep yourself.
You may choose to avoid beans entirely, but if your body isn’t too sensitive to lectin, you can reap the beneficial fiber content with these preparation methods. Start by enjoying a half-cup or so at a time to see how you feel. You might also want to get your cholesterol levels checked before and after you try these methods!
How to Soak Beans
The easiest way to remove lectins prior to cooking is to soak dry beans overnight. For best results, cover the beans completely with cold water, and add a little baking soda to help neutralize the lectins further. Since the lectins will release into the water, try to replace the soaking solution at least once or twice. Drain and rinse a final time before cooking to ensure you’ve removed as much as possible.
How to Sprout Beans
If you want to take it a step further, you can sprout the beans after you’ve soaked them. To do this, its best to use special sprouting seeds, which are free of any bacteria that would be killed if you were simply boiling them as usual.
After the soaking process, put the beans in a mason jar with a sprouting lid, or a cloth secured by a rubber band. Invert the jar over a bowl, and set it on the kitchen counter out of the way. You should see sprouts within a day, but you can keep sprouting them for a bit longer if you prefer. Just be sure to give them a rinse once a day. For more details on how to sprout individual legumes and grains, this is a great resource.
How to Ferment Beans
If you like your beans a little funky, fermentation might be the way to go. Like the sprouting process, you’ll want to start with rinsing and soaking your beans, except this time you want to cook them.
I recommend boiling them for at least an hour on the stovetop, or throw the soaked beans into a slow cooker and set on low for six to eight hours. Next, add seasoning (like garlic or salt) and a culture, like kombucha, yogurt, or a culture powder you can buy at the store. Mash them up a little to get more surface area fermenting, cover, and store in a warm place for several days. Open the lid slightly every day to release the excess gas, then set in the refrigerator when done.
Serve your fermented beans as a side dish, or enjoy them as a refreshing side dish!
Use a Pressure Cooker
Another easy way to reduce and almost completely eliminate lectins is to cook foods in a pressure cooker, like an Instant Pot. This greatly reduces the lectin content of beans and is an easy and fast way to cook them.
As with the other preparation methods I mentioned above, I recommend soaking the beans overnight in several changes of water, then pressure cooking according to the manufacturer’s directions.
Buy Safe Brands
If you don’t want to go through the hassle of soaking and cooking the beans yourself, Dr. Gundry recommends Eden brand beans. They’re pre-soaked, cooked in pressure cookers, then stored in BPA-free cans. Go ahead and eat these beans straight out of the container for the ultimate low-lectin convenience!
What Level of Lectin Consumption Is Safe?
This is a difficult question with no single answer. Keep in mind that many foods contain lectins, not just beans and grains. We can’t avoid them completely. The key is finding a workable balance that minimizes the worst sources.
My personal recommendation is to soak, sprout, ferment, or pressure cook foods high in lectins, like legumes, seeds, nuts, and grains like barley, oats, and wheat.
Nightshade vegetables like tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, and eggplant also contain lectins, and these can be reduced by peeling and pressure cooking.
What I Do to Avoid Lectin
Personally, I avoid grains and legumes unless properly prepared, soak nuts overnight, and avoid all processed and commercially prepared foods, grains, and soy.
When I was actively working to halt my autoimmune disease, I avoided lectins much more carefully. Similarly, if you are overweight or attempting to lose weight, a more stringent avoidance of lectins might be helpful.
For many, avoiding lectins for a year or so can help soothe the intestinal lining, improve gut bacteria, facilitate weight loss, and reduce allergy symptoms. If you or your children are suffering from unknown allergies or gut problems, try removing beans entirely from your diet to see if that helps.
The Bottom Line
While many people in the United States don’t sprout or ferment their beans and grains, it might be worth trying. After all, beans are proven to lower cholesterol and fight cardiovascular disease. On the other hand, if your gut health suffers when you eat beans, or your kids have a strong reaction to them, you might want to avoid them a bit more stringently.
This article was medically reviewed by Dr. Lauren Jefferis, board-certified in Internal Medicine and Pediatrics. As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor or work with a doctor at SteadyMD.
Do you eat beans? If so, what kind(s)? Share below!
Discussion (205 Comments)
Wow. This is getting a lot of heat. This actually makes perfect sense to me. My husband is a huge consumer of grains and beans. He has had GERD for seven years and takes proton pump inhibitors to manage it. He has crazy problems with his intestinal tract. Occasionally food will come out not having been digested at all, other times he’ll get horrid gas. His body has been destroyed by lectin overdose. I can’t say that it’s from the beans, but if beans are high in lectins, I don’t see why it wouldn’t be from the beans as well as the grains.
It could well be the grains, more than the beans. Since its the lectins that are the issue, and since even the material
cited by Wellness Mama states that the lectins are destroyed by
sufficient cooking, what’s the problem with eating properly soaked and cooked beans? Beans are a very healthy food, when properly soaked
WIKIPEDIA is not a credible source. Many credible sources (peer-reviewed studies and centenarian studies) disprove your conjecture. Do you have any information provided by a legitimate source?
I was not using wikipedia as a source for the claims I was making, just merely to illustrate that beans do indeed contain lectins (which is common information and is found in textbooks as well… they are just much harder to link to online). I don’t use Wikipedia to back any conclusions, just to illustrate points. For instance, wikipedia also says that there is folate in green leafy veggies (there is) and I don’t doubt that claim simply because it is on wikipedia. For instance, here’s evidence from sources that beans do, indeed, contain lectins: From cornell: http://poisonousplants.ansci.cornell.edu/toxicagents/lectins.html Here’s one from Oxford Journal: https://academic.oup.com/glycob/article/14/11/53R/627369 University of Leuven: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/0924224496100157 PLOS: https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0000687 Lund University: https://bmcendocrdisord.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1472-6823-5-10
Stop citing sources that beans contain lectins and start citing studies that show the amount of lectins in properly prepared beans are harmful.
Traditionally beans are to be soaked overnight to reduce digestive distress! Perhaps the source of this is the knowledge or understanding that it removes such toxins from the bean?
Really??? This is just another of those scare articles. The facts are all out of context and just plain humpty-dumpty. Beans, pulses and grains are really great for you, especially for us vegans.
Got to ask when did ever see a fat vegan??? We eat beans all the time!
Since when is being fat the only marker of health?
It is not the only marker of good health, but being overweight is surely the biggest marker of bad health. Vegans and vegetarians have less cancer and heart diseases than meat eaters. It is an irrefutable fact that has much research to prove it.
There is no absolute proof that a vegetarian or vegan diet “does” prevent cancer and/or diseases. Much evidence suggests it “may” reduce the risk, but despite your comment – it has NOT been proven and yes, it can be refuted.
In the very early days of man, where meat was the primary food, cancer was basically non-existent.
Q: Will a vegetarian diet reduce your risk of cancer?
A: Avoiding red meat may reduce the risk of certain cancers, but there’s no firm evidence vegetarians have less risk for cancers overall
There are a range of reasons why people choose not to eat meat. But does going meat-free mean you are less likely to get cancer?
While a plant-based diet, which includes a wide variety of fruits, vegetables and wholegrains, has been shown to be protective against some cancers, there isn’t definitive evidence that avoiding all meat reduces your overall cancer risk, says Kathy Chapman, chair of Cancer Council Australia’s nutrition and physical activity committee.
“Certainly our advice at the Cancer Council would be eating plenty of fruits and vegetables is what people should aim for,” Chapman says.
“If you want to follow a vegetarian diet you need to make sure it is a healthy one, but to lower cancer risk you don’t [necessarily need to] think about going totally meat free.”
Meat was only a food eaten on special occasions in the Bible. They consumed grains, vegetables and sometimes fish.
Meat was not the primary food.
Being fat is not absolutely not the only marker of bad health and in fact, being fat does not mean you are in bad health at all. There are very healthy fat people and very sickly thin people. Yes, more often that not being overweight does come with health issues – but not always and sometimes not at all.
My friend Sarah, who is 28, an Avid athlete and a strict vegan for the past 15 years is FAT. She is very overweight so yes, I HAVE seen a fat vegan. There are plenty of foods on a vegan diet that can be calorie dense. Pasta, grains, various sweets, nuts and nut butters – they are all high in calories and all on a vegan diet.
It irks me when people say things that have no factual backing and don’t do any research on them before posting – especially when they are totally wrong!
? I’ve seen plenty of overweight vegans. There’s as much heavily processed vegan food out there, as any other kind of processed food. Vegan doesn’t necessarily equal healthy and trim.
Does anyone else have a problem with that fact that this article was researched using Wikipedia? Any halfway serious academic knows that many of the sources used for Wiki articles are biased, not fully researched, and/or full of dated material. Wellness Mama, if you care about your credibility, you should probably use ACTUAL research studies/academic sources, not Google.
I agree that Wikipedia is no scientific journal, but the components of beans are very well documented and wikipedia provided an easy overview that was more readable than a scientific article in this instance. If you disagree that beans contain lectins (as wikiepdia stated) i’d like to see your cite…
Countless researches have shown that beans are healthy! Filled with protein, iron, fiber and vitamins. Plus, both grains and legumes are heart healthy since they have shown to lower cholesterol.
If you prepare your beans the right way, how is it still bad? Honestly, I feel like the good outweighs the bad when it comes to beans.
I’d like to see any “actual” research that backs up any of the claims you just made. I’d also like to see a single study that shows that low cholesterol is a good thing: https://wellnessmama.com/1853/roots-of-heart-disease/ . Yes, beans are low fat, as are grains… in fact, this is part of the reason I don’t eat them…
The studies done to prove beans are high in protein, fiber and vitamins is a fact. It’s real. But about the other studies…
shows that studies have proven beans lower the risk of colon cancer (a major problem in America right now)
“New analysis of almost 35,000 participants in the Nurses’ Health Study shows that women who ate four or more servings of legumes a week were 33 percent less likely to develop colorectal adenomas than those consuming one serving a week or less.”
“These health benefits of legumes may come from this food’s unique phytochemicals. Saponins, lignans and phytosterols are under study for potential benefits in fighting cancer and heart disease. ”
“Many legumes, especially soybeans, are demonstrating impressive health benefits. Diets rich in legumes are being used to lower cholesterol levels, improve blood glucose control in diabetics, and reduce the risk of many cancers. Legumes contain many important nutrients and phytochemicals, and when combined with grains, they form a complete protein. According to studies conducted by the United States Department of Agriculture, richly colored dried beans offer a high degree of antioxidant protection (see below). In fact, small red kidney beans rated the highest just ahead of blueberries.”
From personal experience, beans have helped me a lot. Beans have helped me lose weight and give me energy throughout the whole day. I don’t feel sick or have digestive problems and I have been eating them for years now.
People in Asian countries eat legumes and soy, and aren’t they mostly healthy when compared to other countries who eat less legumes and grains?
Again, I believe the high fiber in beans is actually a bad thing, not a good thing, and compared to meat, liver, vegetables, or healthy fats like avocado or coconut beans are not nutrient dense at all! 4 ounces of liver will blow beans out of the water on protein and nutrients, as will some sardines. The studies you link to compare bean consumption to non-bean consumption, but there are a couple flaws: (a) since beans are considered a “healthy” food, people who are trying to be healthier tend to eat them. This usually also means they are doing other things to be healthier (and that would reduce cancer risk) like exercising, eating more vegetables, avoiding sugars, etc. Also, these studies don’t study the rates of autoimmune problems in people who eat beans, which I believe is where the major part of the risk is.
Soybeans are one food I will absolutely not eat in any form. Not only are virtually all of them genetically modified and sprayed with a lot of pesticides (I live near fields where they are grown… they are sprayed a LOT) but they contain estrogen mimicking substances which are especially harmful to women of child bearing age and males of any age.
As far as a complete protein… animal fats don’t have to be combined with anything to form a complete protein and they are higher in nutrients, especially ones like B-12 which aren’t in beans in any significant amount.
Have you considered perhaps that the department of AGRICULTURE would have a slight bias in supporting studies that would shed beneficial light on products created through modern agriculture (wheat, corn and soybeans?). As far as antioxidants, even dark chocolate has many times more antioxidants than beans.
People in asian countries consume beans in a mostly fermented state, and eat mostly rice, which is the least harmful of the grains, so to compare this to countries who eat less legumes but more processed foods is not an apples to apples comparison. Also, having studied this extensively (I actually was majoring in International Studies emphasis in Mandarin for part of college) the asian people also eat mineral rich bone broths and seaweeds with almost every meal, and these both negate some of the harmful effects of the grains. They also have slightly different genetics and eat less processed foods. To give this as a justification for consuming grains and legumes is a stretch to say the least.
I’m glad you feel that beans have helped you, and certainly, if you don’t agree with me, you won’t stop eating them. I stand firmly behind my stance that they aren’t healthy though, and your n=1 experience bears little scientific weight.
“I stand firmly behind my stance that they aren’t healthy though, and your n=1 experience bears little scientific weight”
I am not the only person who has benefited from beans. If I have benefited from eating beans, then others have the chance to benefit from beans too. It’s okay that you don’t agree with me but you also got most of your information from Wikipedia. Which is basically a horrible place to get sources.
I had one link to wikipedia above, so I’d hardly call that all of my information and even Wikipedia does seem to have a basic grasp of the biology of a bean… didn’t feel the need to bring out scientific studies to prove that a bean is, in fact, a bean. Like I said, I’m glad they worked for you, and certainly they are a better option that some highly processed foods, I just disagree that they are actually a health food.
okay, lets agree to disagree since I will always regard beans as power foods:) Good luck on your high cholesterol foods though.
I’m also wary of this article as it seems to be implying that eating foods high in saturated fats is better than eating beans. That is just crazy. Are we going through another Atkins Diet era here?
If you’re actually interested in looking at the science, I suggest you re-evaluate saturated fat as science has never proven (and never will) that healthy saturated fats (coconut oil, grassed butter, grassed meats, tallow, etc) cause heart disease or obesity…
I love your blog, and the information you put on here but as everyone says you are highly questionable..I agree on the grains and everything but the fact that you still eat and advocate meat is beyond me..meat is not a HEALTH food..all meat has parasties and that’s enough for me to start on the topic.
You are grouping modern meat from factory farms with healthy organic or grass-fed/Pastured animals you are lumping apples and oranges together and calling them the same. Meat from animals that have spent time in the sun and fed on grass is going to be a lot healthier than meat from an animal that lives in its own manure in a stall that never sees the light of day. I would not eat that either.
You are mistaken in your assumption that foods that contain cholesterol also cause high cholesterol. Saturated fat is not necessarily unhealthy and is consumed in foods high in protein such as animal fats and a carrier for fat soluble vitamins A, D and E.
Meanwhile studies have shown that excess consumption of polyunsaturated fats contribute to a large number of disease conditions including increased cancer and heart disease; immune system dysfunction; damage to the liver, reproductive organs and lungs; digestive disorders; depressed learning ability; impaired growth; and weight gain. These are the fats in vegetable oil, corn oil, canola oil and Soy bean oils.
Wait, you think that high fiber is a bad thing? If that doesn’t throw a red flag for anyone…
Unfortunately, wellness mama, soy is not just found in soybeans and tofu. It is now used, in a modified form (which is even worse) as a filler in most packaged and processed foods. So if you want to avoid soy, maybe you might want to give beans another chance 🙂
I was vegan for 3 years and had a very low cholesterol count with a high good cholesterol reading, my doctor was pleased and impressed. This low cholesterol count wreaked HAVOC on my hormone system making me very ill. It took several months to re-balance. I am vegetarian now and doing quite well. Each of us are unique:
“One man’s medicine is another man’s poison.”
i love beans esp lentils …just soak them first and move on…
Totally agree with you, Dough. As a holistic health coach and growing up with a holistic MD father in Europe, I was was raised with beans and still have them in my every day diet. I am 5’7″ and weight 116 lb, and I am 44. I feel and look my best b/c I eat common sense foods my great grand parents ate. Now I help smart people lose weight and get on top of their best health by telling them not to read blog post like this one. It is truly ridiculous. A former client sent it to me to check it out in dismay! I also believe she W. Mama grew up in USA which means she was raised with the SAD diet and self education HERE is NOT possible.
Some what she said makes sense though. I eat alot of beans and have a big stomach bloat problem. As I think I need refrain from beans awhile and let my intestines heal. I also find I gain weight too easily with them. In my case they are not being digested rightly or eaten with enough rice or carbs. So yes in some cases refrain for awhile and see.
Nobody here has doubted that beans contain lectins. Every time someone points out that your only source is wikipedia you respond that the point was the show lectics are present in beans. This argument, however, is completely irrelevant. The fact that beans contain lectins is not the point of everyone’s argument here. The point of the argument is whether or not the remaining lectins in the beans, after properly prepared, are harmful to you. I’m not going to claim beans are good or bad because I am not a scientist, doctor, or any other type of person qualified to make that argument. You, on the other hand, boast these claims that beans are bad even after properly prepared. I don’t care about sources proving lectins are in beans as I believe this is true. I would like to see sources claiming that remaining lectins in properly prepared beans are harmful. I haven’t found a single study proving this. Furthermore, I consider it irresponsible for you to make such claims and suggest that people limit bean intake or cut them out altogether without providing a single study for your case. I imagine after all the heat you have taken with this article that you haven’t cited one because after doing some research you probably couldn’t find one yourself. Do yourself and easily influenced people a favor and remove this article unless you can provide evidence backing your claim.
If you look above, she actually cited 3 credible sources. Just saying…
This article in fact is a very informative article because I know of an institute in California that rehabilitates thousands of people around the world SUCCESSFULLY. The diet does in fact cut out, ALL GRAINS AND LEGUMES! Their success rate is 100% when their diet is followed correctly.
I myself also follow this diet and it is the only diet that works for me. No Grains, No legumes, no nuts. Organic meats, coconut oil and olive oil, NO polyunsaturated fats because they are also the root of all evil, carbs like squash, potatoes, pumpkin, sweet potatoes and other veggies. As well, bone broths are so important to reverse the damage that has already been created in the gut.
Look at Sally Fallon’s Book Nourishing Traditions or look at Nathalie McBride for info who is a Doctor and she rehabs her clients on the Gap diet. I think it is a wise idea to read, keep your eyes open and start thinking why Wellness Mama would write this article. She has nothing to gain by YOU eating or not eating beans. She does not own a bean farm.
Before you begin reacting, take a deep breath and start your research and look at the resources above. It can and will change your health and improve it immensely.
I never argue anymore about nutrition and food. I simply FOLLOW the leaders who GET results – this is the key to life in any area.
Turn a new leaf!
KIM, Thank you…do you have the name of the institute in California ?
In reply to Kim’s comment: “I know of an institute in California that rehabilitates thousands of people around the world SUCCESSFULLY. The diet does in fact cut out, ALL GRAINS AND LEGUMES! Their success rate is 100% when their diet is followed correctly”.
What exactly is the institution “rehabilitating” people of? Do you have fact based statistics to validate that the success rate (of whatever they are doing) is in fact 100%? Please provide data. To my knowledge, nothing done with humans is EVER 100% – not ever. It might be 99.9%, but never 100% – it’s virtually impossible. People are so incredibly different, its simply not possible for 100% of any group to respond the same.
What is the name of the institute, what type of rehabilitation are they doing and what fact/science based data can you provide to support a 100% success rate?
I have been eating beans almost every day for years, chic-peas, kidneys, navy,etc. with no ill health effects. You can’t take a common substance in a food and analize it “out of context” without the other substances it was a part of and then jump to the conclusion that its bad for you. Kind of like vitamin A which we all need and is in a lot of foods but we have also heard that too much can be harmful. Beans are an excellent source of fiber and protein with no fat and I am NOT going to stop eating them just because of a bunch of crack-pot scare articles. Remember all those studies years ago about how bad coffee was?
Beans is one, if not the greatest food around. Beans is one of the few food that you can eat everyday without side effects. The gas issue is not that bad. To remove the gas, boil the beans and change the water to a fresh one. This takes care of gas issues.
Beans does not make you fat. No science can convince me otherwise even if they do ‘their experiment’. A lot of college student in some parts of africa who are poor resort to eating beans everyday cause it make them full longer. No side effects. I have seen more people eating beans almost everyday. For the record, I have never cook them ‘the right way’. I boil and cook it without changing the water. Gas? yes. It is manageable.
I know this is an old thread, but I want to add my PERSONAL experience. I am in my mid-fifties. About two years ago after following a paleo/low carb diet for years on the recommendation of my internal medicine MD (Diabetes runs in my family and I had gained weight, also genetic testing revealed slight gluten Intolerance but not Celiac disease) I was baking a birthday cake for a friend’s party and this started me on a wheat, legume binge that caused me to gain 30 lbs in less than 6 weeks.
What followed was disastrous. I fractured over three months six bones in my feet while standing in my kitchen or walking in my house (no stairs and NO TRAUMA). I had no history of osteoporosis or other bone disorder. Within a year I had metastatic malignant bladder cancer and a tumor on my adrenal gland and was vomiting non-stop for about six months with no remittance from anti-nausea medication. I lost weight, being congratulated by doctors on “how great I looked”. I ended up being diagnosed with acidosis since beans and grain lowers the pH of your blood and I was put on double doses of proton pump inhibitors to prevent lesions in my throat from progressing to full-blown cancer as well. Eventually my internal medicine primary care referred me to Mayo Clinic. I was seen by an immunologist who asked flat out, “why did you eat this stuff? Your intestines are a mess and you appear to have MS as well. Never, ever eat anything that grows on a grass, straw, or vine for the rest of your life and you might make it to 60.”
I did this of course, having in fact sworn off the grains and beans way back. My “binge” was really just the six weeks.
Now, I am battling three separate cancers all related to my weakened immune system. I am a “regular” at Johns Hopkins oncology and have had my cecum (a major part of your intestine) removed to save my life (it perforated from the damage, I barely made it to the hospital, another ten minutes in the DC traffic and I would have died the surgeon said.) This occurred only two months ago. Now mind you, I was pretty healthy for someone who was (at the time of my binge) 52. No major illnesses EVER. No antibiotic use. Careful. Vigilant. Like all of you. But the Mayo Clinic immunologist told me that what many of you doubt because it was on Wikipedia, that Lectins can hurt you. You can lose everything, including your VERY LIFE with just bread with dinner. Lectins SHEAR off the villi in your gut and just as the blogger says, the toxins enter your blood stream. During my recent surgery I was given two units of blood because I was so anemic that the surgeon was afraid that besides the bowel perforation caused by weakness in the intestinal walls, that I would end up brain damaged because even at Mayo they had not checked whether I was absorbing any nutrients anymore from what little I DID eat and my pulse oxygen was in the 40s from a lack of iron caused by my intestines not absorbing B12..
Take heed. That’s all I can say.
Your problems did NOT come from beans – although binging on anything is not healthy – even when its a health food.
I HAD many of the issues you say were caused by your binge and when I added a large amount of beans to my diet – my problems went 95% away. My auto immune disease is GONE! My prescription meds are GONE and my immune system is far better. The BEANS were my CURE!
In your case, perhaps you are allergic and/or intolerant to beans or wheat or those you ‘binged’ on were not organic and therefore GMO altered as well as loaded with chemicals. The chemicals ON the wheat and beans you binged on can cause the issues you described. I’m willing to bet that if you ate properly cooked, organic beans and consumed a moderate amount of wheat (not a binge) you would not have had the same result.
There are hundreds of thousands of stories that can be validated on how beans help with weight loss, diabetes, blood pressure, cholesterol, auto immune disease, etc. Those are validated, proven facts so your once instance, after an unhealthy binge, does not negate or invalidate all the proven cases where beans were the CURE – myself included.
Lisa I would love to hear what you’ve done to heal. After 2.5 years on the Autoimmune Paleo diet and not being better (in fact being much worse) I’d like to explore veganism. You have to get your proteins somewhere so that leaves grains beans and rice, which have been drilled into my head as being evil. I would love to hear your story!
geez thanks.. I almost threw away my pantry full of dry beans ! I love n live on them i’m near 60 & doing just great .. thanks
Your comments toward Rose, who was battling cancer, are callous and insensitive. Do you think it’s fair to attack someone battling cancer???
I am terribly sorry for your health problems. Unfortunately, most major problems like this are from years of abuse or genetics, not a few weeks or months of binging. While I do not agree at all with this article, what I take away from it is, there is a good way to prepare beans to limit their impact on your digestion, and as always, everything in MODERATION!
I personally go Vegan 6 months a year and vegetarian the rest. I have looked into how our meat is processed (visited factories when allowed) and was not impressed, but rather disgusted. The other 6 months of the year (again, moderation) I consume eggs and fish a few times a week (of course I make sure they are local, hormone free, free range, etc – thankfully I have friends that are farmers or access to deep sea fisherman) and sometimes cheese. I am careful of my cheese source as I never consume Milk. Just not a fan. Just because I go Vegan does not mean that I fill up on the frankin-soy products either. Its what I call all the processed veggie products. When you go Vegan it is to improve your life style, not eat a bunch of ground up junk that tastes like meat.
Enough of my rant. I am terribly sorry for your health. I hope things are improving for you. I am sorry that you have to be so restrictive in your good choices but I hope you don’t make it seem that what is an issue for your and you body type, is an issue for everyone else. Our bodies are so different and unique and what works for one person doesn’t work for the next.
Moderation and attention. Pay attention to where our food is coming from and what “they” are doing to it. Not just blindly buy and eat everything and anything that is sold.
Thank you for taking such a classy approach to not agreeing and sharing your opinion. i have followed Katie’s blog for about 5 years and reapped so much great knowledge which i why when i started to research WHY paleo is so against legumes (the main reason why i chose to not stick with a strict paleo diet.. I love peas, beans, and peanuts), and i saw a wellness mama article pop up, it was the first one i went to. Science is a collection of theories and best guesses and anyone doing research is probably going to have at least a slight bias, though for the hateful commenters she DID acknowledge the positive benefits of beans, she just believe that for her, and possibly many other people, the negatives out weigh the positive, when you could easily get the positives elsewhere. i replied specifically to your comment a) to show my appreciation for your class and maturity, and b) (more imortantly) ask if you have considered looking into grassfed and humanely raised cattle/chicken/sheep/etc. I live on a cattle farm, and have actually been fascinated with their process.. they simply eat the grass in the pastures and they have a sectioned box with raw vitamins and minerals that has a flexible cover to protect them form the elements and they cows can lift it with the noses… they know by the smell what nutrient their body needs. And even from an inhumane to eat something with a face perspective, I’d much rather my body go on to nurture someone else that just rot in the ground. Not at all judging any stance you may have on the matter, just offering a different perspective bc there are certain things in animal meat that you just can’t find other protein sources.
And thank you Katie, i believe i will still continue to eat well cooked beans (and you gave me health benefits to defend my love of BOILED peanuts to my peanut loving naysayers lol), but you helped to answer a very big question i have had since become an “ingredients snob”… i have avoid just about every source of soy the best i can, and when noticing sunflower lechtin (since soy lechtin is one of the top offenders of why i wont buy something), i wondered if lechtin of any kind of was good, or more importantly if all kinds were bad…. uhg one more thing to add to my “badditives” list lol. Again thank you and i appreciate your informative and well researched articles. I find no fault in your research focusing on the lechtins and only mentioning the benefits briefly.. most people are well aware of the benefits and have never even heard of lechtins unless they do read their labels carefully… and even then may not even know what it is, what its for, and what it does to our bodies.
The beans and wheat certainly did not cause that! What did cause it was your lack of nutrition prior to the binge! You stated that you had been on a paleo/low carb diet for two years prior. This added with probably a lifetime of poor nutrition weakened your intestinal wall. When you “binged” on the wheat and beans the lectins had much more of a negative effect than they would have normally. People don’t seem to grasp what lack of proper nutrition can do to you! It’s unfair to solely blame the beans and wheat because the damage was already done and your gut was walking time bomb before the first spoonful was swallowed.
Wishing you a speedy recovery.
I even make my own almond flour for this reason. I follow the directions in the Nourishing Traditions cookbook. I Soak them for at least 8 hours with a tbsp of Celtic sea salt, then I rinse them and blot them dry and dry them in the oven at 150 degrees for 24 hours. (I dry my pecans for 12, but the almonds take longer). Then I grind them in my food processor.
Thanks for this input that’s exactly what I’m wanting to try 🙂 😉 point and step in the right direction then… but yeah it does sound like a slow process to make flour but I love the fact it may be safer cooked and if it were sprouted previously and soaked. But that maybe is for when I have my own bought garden. But for now soaking and heating them for long time is great way then surely to kill any harmful residues. 😉 🙂 great 🙂 😉 maybe sprouted grain with heating and soaking could work too but maybe for the grains being harmful In themselves almonds are better substitute for flour. 😉 🙂
You have WAY too much time on your hands! I commend your desire to feed your family good food, but that is crazy! Soak your beans over night and they will be safe.
Love this blog (although I am a fan of occasional grains – they are so tasty! – and eat a lot of lentils), but wikipedia as your main source? Really? Not to go all teacher-y on you here, but you’d be much more convincing if you cited studies directly.
Did you really not read anything above? Wik was not her main source….and she explains why she didn’t use studies
I was not using wikipedia as a source for the claims I was making, just
merely to illustrate that beans do indeed contain lectins (which is
common information and is found in textbooks as well… they are just
much harder to link to online). I don’t use Wikipedia to back any
conclusions, just to illustrate points. For instance, wikipedia also
says that there is folate in green leafy veggies (there is) and I don’t
doubt that claim simply because it is on wikipedia. For instance, there’s
evidence from sources that beans do, indeed, contain lectins.
This thread is over a year old. Not surprising they would be moved in that amount of time.
When something tends not to be true it gets removed over time
I find this amazing that you would bring out one point about beans they contain Lectins. but disregard the tons of information that is out there supporting the benefits of beans, black beans and lentils and Diabetes which are helpful to people with type 2 diabetes and weight loss of course your information is not proof of anything truthful if you don’t have a degree and a study to back up what you are telling your readers if your going to say stuff about beans then you had better have some kind of Doctors degree on Nutrition otherwise your not doing any favors to your readers. Spreading the wrong information out weights the benefits of the right information. Here are links that do work Thanks 😀 https://nutritionfacts.org/video/beans-and-the-second-meal-effect/
Katie - Wellness Mama
Hi Lucie… thanks for reading. I actually do have a degree in nutrition and while beans can have some healthy components, especially if soaked and properly prepared, they do in fact have lectins which can be very problematic for some people. For instance, I have an autoimmune disease and eating beans can cause me to have gastro and skin symptoms for days. Incidentally, an autoimmune diet can also be extremely helpful for someone with diabetes (no beans needed). Do you find it a conflict of interest at all that one of your sources is the Beans Institute, which would seem to have a slight vested interest in proclaiming the benefits of beans?
Great posts, I am sorry to see the negative comments here. You are absolutely right about lectins in beans which can certainly wreak havoc particularly if one has an autoimmune disease. Keep up the great work and thanks for your info here! 🙂
Let’s not move away from the point here.
In summary Lucie has a very strong and valid argument. She stated the simple fact that Katie refused to state the positives of beans and focused on the potential negatives which could give the reader a wrong impression on whether or not beans are good for the body. In this regard Lucie is correct in her assessment as a post such as this should state both the pros and cons.
The lectin issue can be easily solved with proper cooking and last time I checked we should learn how to prepare our food before we consume it (hence the reason cook books were invented). A better angle for this post would have been to highlight the correct cooking methods for beans to avoid the potential lectin issues stated by Katie. Such a post would have been accurate and of value to the reader. The current post sends the wrong impression towards beans in general.
Thanks Lucie for doing the research, and Katie – this is the first time I’ve ever read your blog…in the interest of writing better articles it may be better for you to learn from this incident and just keep on writing.
Thanks for the info ladies.
One of the common themes nutrition wise amongst the Blue Zone countries where people live the longest is that they have a tendency to consume beans.
12 hours of soak, rinse, soak, rinse, soak, rinse, don’t forget a little sodium bicarbonate, now cook for two hours…??? Sounds like the inspiration for processed food to me. I like my food simple.
Great response. I changed to a vegan diet a couple of years ago. My main source of protein was beans. I was getting sicker and sicker. Terrible gut issues. It wasn’t until I started working with a nutritionist that I realized it was the beans that were the main culprit to my distress. I no longer eat beans. I have also started taking pro-biotics which have helped. I have never been the same since those d*** beans! LOL
Beans tear me up! Yes, I soak them. I’ve tried adding different things that are supposed to help with digestion such as ginger, baking soda, and seaweed. Terrible pain and constipation.
High fiber foods cause constipation?
Im latina and i have never heard of beans being bad. Or even eating raw beans. We make beans everyday. My mother 78 years old is in prefect health. The only thing she has is knee pain on occasions. Her mother died at 98 years old of old zge she was in prefect health she never had meds to take or even wore glasses. My dad mother lived to be 97 and in great health died of old age. We eat rice and beans everday. My grandfather died at 103 years old. Now we cook our beans in regular pot two hours. In a pressure cooker one hour. Ive never heard of eating raw beans. Maybe thats the problem. I go by what i see in mt family here and in other counties where rice and beans are our everyday food and no one has ever died from beans. On the contrary live long happy lives. And none are fst either.
This comment is not in response to any other post in this thread – it’s just general in nature. I think this has gone WAY to far. Look at the typical American diet….. It’s horrible. Full of overly processed empty nutrient foods that are genetically modified and covered in multiple layers of pesticides including some that were used as toxic agents during war! Over 60% of the population is overweight or obese and diabetes, heart disease and cancer continue to climb. This is the first time EVER where the lifespan of the current generation is expected to be LESS than the prior…… and it’s NOT because people are eating beans, nor the lectins they contain. Are beans good or bad? Depends on what you compare them to I suppose. Yes, beans do contain lectins and lectins can be potentially harmful. Despite the lectins, beans are an excellent source of protein and fiber as well as nutrients. Compared to what most Americans eat in a typical day, beans are a miracle superfood!!! In fact, if people stopped eating white bread, white rice, bleached food, sugar packed snacks, sugary drinks with artificial colors and ate beans in their place, their health would improve! not decline.
It just seems we are way off track now. Beans ARE a superfood and if properly cooked (which most of us do), they offer far more benefits than drawbacks. Instead of spending time beating beans to death, we should instead target all the unhealthy processed, gmo, artificial foods that will bring us to our death!
Love this response. Agree agree agree.
Agree with this comment, and I think this article does a disservice to people who are legitimately interested in nutrition. All one needs to do is look around the world and throughout history and you will find many cultures getting most of their nutrition and protein from beans where people often live to be well over 100 (Latin America as one example, India as another). There are a lot of problems with the standard american diet as evidenced by the continuing rise in obesity – but BEANS are not the problem, they are a solution for many people who need more nutrition and fiber in their diet.
Some people may have issues with beans – every person is different. Personally I eat beans every day and am in perfect health, engage in running daily and martial arts. Of course, anecdotal evidence from one individual doesn’t mean much, but looking at studies from well-reputed scientific sources makes a difference:
@Erica and @Jill – THANK YOU to you both for supporting my comment; I support both of yours as well.
We live in a world where healthy food is becoming a thing of the past; Beans are one of those healthy foods; they should be on the endangered species list.
We have to scrutinize labels to find out what chemicals, pesticides, additives, etc. are in the products we choose (or might have chosen) to feed our family. Complicate that with the evils of Monsanto, DuPont, and other GMO supporters and the result in that there are few foods left that are actually good for us.
I don’t remember where I heard this saying; but I love it:
“if it has an ingredient list – DONT eat it”
Beans have no ingredients; they are just beans. Pure. Simple. Complete.
An egg has no ingredients; its a nicely packaged protein wonder.
Sunflower seeds are a super food – yet they have no ingredients.
On the flip side, Pick up a can of soup, or package of cookies, or anything processed – things with ingredients and you’ll cringe at the list of chemicals in any/all of them – that is if you happen to be one of the few that can pronounce and/or understand the ingredients, a/k/a chemicals. It’s pretty sad when you have to have a science degree to know what you are eating.
Yet, here is this thread, many pages and hundreds of posts long, “trying” to make one of the few naturally healthy complete foods we have left into a bad thing! Wow, how far in the wrong direction can this go?
Are lectins bad for us? I’m not a scientist and I don’t know. Even if I was, even the scientists don’t agree. What I do know is that I eat a LOT of beans, as does my entire family and none of us are sick because of them. As Jill and others have mentioned, we have cultures going 100 plus years back where beans were and still are a main protein source and the residents happen to have one of the longest lifespans of anywhere on the planet.
Cultures where living over 100 is NOT uncommon. You wont find that in a nation living off mostly processed foods/
What I do know is that we have much bigger problems in regards to foods.
Dow and Monsanto managed to get 2,4-D approved for use on crops and for those who are unfamiliar, it is the EXACT SAME 2,4-D used to make the deadly neuro-toxin “Agent Orange” which had deadly effects on countless people during the Vietnam War. There are soldiers still suffering with the effects of the toxin; unable to have any quality of life.
The government banned the use of Agent Orange via the Geneva Disarmament Convention of 1978, yet now, the exact same toxin has been approved for use as a pesticide for crops that WILL become part of the food on the shelf of every store. Why? money. It’s that simple. Despite all those against it being approved, the supporters and producers had the money to buy its approval.
I’m sure I’m not alone when I say I think eating beans, which have been a near perfect food for hundreds of years is a MILLION times better than eating a box, bag or can of food made from ingredients containing countless chemicals, containing enough preservatives to never expire and made with ingredients sprayed with agent orange! It’s shameful to even call such items food, but sadly our shelves are lines with it; in every possible form.
I grow my own beans; they are simple to grow. I have heirloom seeds for some very ancient varieties that I grow year after year. I grow them, dry them and eat 99% of them each year and save 1% of the beans to plant the next year. No fertilizer, no chemicals, no bug spray – just rain water and patience.
Cant wait for next years crop. Going to go cook some beans!
I agree Lisa. It seems that every super or healthy food out there gets a negative report by someone. I even saw one on virgin olive oil. We eat lots of beans, rice, nuts and seeds and this diet keeps us at a healthy weight. We exercise regularly and feel great. We will continue to eat this way despite the naysayers.
do you(your family) consume any grains, any gluten ?
This comment is old but I have something to say about wikipedia-
You know that just because anyone can post something on wikipedia doesn’t mean it’s incorrect. Have you ever tried posting something that is totally false on wikipedia? They will remove it so fast. People monitor the additions to wikipedia all the time and remove things that aren’t true. It’s actually a reliable source of info. Not once have I found info on wikipedia that was not verifiable through other sources. Just saying.
I just had some delicious beans. I hope they aren’t killing me slowly from the inside right now.
OMGoodness, I totally agree… This was my first and potentially last time to this blog strictly because of that. IDK why so many people think Wikepedia is a credible source.. Why not NIH, CDC, or some other reputable site??
Agree with Renee!!
wow – this is really interesting – I have been eating a lot of nuts thinking they were good fat and low carb, but have been going a bit overboard and noticed I have begun to gain weight. What about hemp seeds? I find that I can limit myself to 3 T which is the recommended serving size – should these be soaked?
What about buying canned organic black beans, rinsing them well and eating them heated? We avoid most grains and eat sprouted wheat bread, but we love black beans and include them in our meal rotation. I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Thank you!