Why Are Beans Controversial?
Vegans and vegetarians often consume black beans, lentils, and other bean varieties as their main source of protein. However, Some people avoid eating beans because they contain compounds called lectins.
There are also different grades of beans. Most Americans consume soy products, which lack important nutrients, rather than beans, which are a good source of B vitamins.
The Pros: Health Benefits of Beans
There are many nutrients in a small bean. They are high in dietary fiber, a great source of protein, and contain vitamins like folate and iron.
These vegetables are usually low in fat and contain few calories, making them a part of the Mediterranean diet and slow-carb diet.
A recent study found that beans can help improve heart health. The study found that pinto beans can help reduce LDL cholesterol, which lowers the risk of heart disease.
Other research has found that eating kidney beans can help reduce inflammation in the colon, while another study showed that eating baked beans helped reduce risk factors for type 2 diabetes. If you’re trying to lose weight, bad news: another study found that bean consumption is associated with larger waist circumference, higher body weight, and increased blood pressure.
The Cons: Can Beans Be Unhealthy?
The main issue with beans is that they have a lot of lectins. Lectins are also found in high amounts in grains. Lectins function similarly to thorns on rose bushes- they protect the plant. Lectins are a type of protein that can have a negative effect on the human digestive system, causing predators or consumers to stay away.
I often consult with Dr. Steven Gundry, an expert on this topic, for advice. Dr. Gundry is a renowned heart surgeon and author of The Plant Paradox. He explains in our podcast interview:
Lectins are proteins found in plants that act as a defense mechanism against predators. Some plants contain lectins which bind to sugar molecules in potential predators as a way of deterring them from being eaten. The sugar molecules line the wall of our gut. Epithelial cells are found lining our blood vessels and joints. They line the spaces between nerves. Lectins are carbohydrate-binding proteins that are found in all forms of life, including the human body. When these proteins come in contact with the lining of the gut, they can cause what is known as “leaky gut.” They can break down the gut wall barrier. They are a large contributing factor to arthritis, they are a large contributing factor to heart disease, and they are a large contributing factor, in my research, to autoimmune diseases.
This text tells us that all lectins have some effect on the body, with some being more toxic than others. The reason you can’t eat grains, beans, and other lectin-containing foods raw is because they contain lectins. If you eat even a few raw kidney beans, you will vomit and have digestive problems.
Lectins can also make it difficult to lose weight or manage diabetes. Lectins can bind to proteins that contain carbohydrates, including insulin and leptin receptors, making them less sensitive. Metabolic syndrome can occur when insulin and leptin function is not working properly.
Like grains and pseudograins, legumes contain phytic acid. Phytic acid doesn’t allow your body to absorb nutrients from the food you’re eating. The lentils only contain a small amount of nutrients in comparison to what is already in your body, rather than what the Nutrition Facts panel says. One of the main disadvantages of these foods is that they contain a lot of sugar. However, this is not always the case, as some Paleo-friendly foods like nuts also contain sugar. Nuts contain more phytic acid per unit of mass than grains and beans. Why are nuts considered to be fine to eat, but lentils are seen as problematic?
The effects of phytates on the body depend on how much you eat. Phytic acid may have some health benefits and shouldn’t be dismissed as a toxin. Nuts are okay to eat in moderation, but too many legumes and beans are not good for you. Nuts and kale are not the main foods in most people’s diets, so if you are depending on almonds for a lot of your nutrition, you would have the same issues.
Many people around the world rely on beans and legumes as their main source of calories. However, eating foods that are high in phytic acid on a regular basis is not healthy. If you replace meat and animal fat with soy and lentils, you’re drastically decreasing your nutrient intake – these plant proteins are less nutrient-dense in the first place, the phytic acid prevents your body from getting even the nutrients they do contain, and unless you eat them with another source of fat, the lack of dietary fat will also stop your body from absorbing and using them. eating only these foods will result in not getting enough nutrients A handful of lentils contains the same amount of phytic acid as a handful of cashews, but people tend to eat more lentils at once than they do cashews.
Other Problems with Beans and Legumes
Legumes contain a type of carbohydrate called galacto-oligosaccharides that can cause unpleasant digestive problems for some people, especially people who already have IBS or similar digestive problems. This is not a good reason for people to avoid them, unless they are already sensitive to other FODMAPS foods like onions or mushrooms.
Another drawback of these foods is their lectin content. Lectins are proteins that are found in almost all foods. Not all of these proteins are problematic. Some people are able to eat members of the nightshade family without any problems, while others have a reaction to them. If you eat a lot of grains, legumes, or dairy, you may be consuming large amounts of potentially toxic lectins. Lectins can damage the intestines by contributing to a leaky gut, which can cause a variety of digestive and autoimmune problems. Most people find the cooking methods for properly preparing beans and legumes to be irritatingly laborious. It is almost certain that any beans or legumes you buy in a restaurant won’t be cooked using these methods. If you eat beans and legumes regularly, it can cause gut irritation and make your intestines more permeable.
People following a lower-carbohydrate version of the Paleo diet should be aware of the carb content in many beans and legumes. Vegetarians might say that beans and legumes are a good source of protein, but this is only in comparison to foods like bread and vegetables, which have very little protein. One cup of black beans contains around 230 calories, most of which come from carbs. This protein source is not very efficient in providing protein as only around 53 of the calories are from protein. The amount of protein you get from eating legumes may vary, and some types of legumes have more protein than others. Although beans are a healthy source of carbohydrates, they may contain more carbohydrates than your body needs. This could lead to weight gain and insulin resistance if it continues for a long time.
Beans and legumes don’t have many vitamins and minerals, so there isn’t a good reason to eat them. Both chickpeas and kidney beans are low in a vital and rare nutrient. They may be eaten occasionally as a supplement food, but it is more healthy to get this vital nutrient from animals or vegetables. Although vegetarians enjoy rice and beans for the protein content, people following a Paleo diet have many other options for getting protein that are better than rice and beans.
Special Case: Peanuts
While “peanut” might make you think of a small, brown nut, it’s actually classified as a legume. Like other legumes, peanuts present a problem because they contain lectins and phytic acid. Peanuts also contain aflatoxins, which are poisonous. Aflatoxins are not naturally occurring in peanuts, but are rather produced by a mold that commonly grows on peanuts and other non-Paleo crops, such as corn. The mold that affects peanuts and peanut butter thrives in warm, humid environments and is so difficult to eliminate that the FDA considers it an unavoidable contaminant. Even organic or all-natural brands of peanuts and peanut butter are not immune, since the peanuts still have to be stored and transported under these conditions. If you’re not picking your peanuts directly from the farm, you’re probably getting some aflatoxins with them. Aflatoxins are linked with diseases like cancer and more of a risk for those with hepatitis B. Mold sensitivities can be particularly concerning in people who are allergic to peanuts.
Special Case: Soy
Soy is another type of legume that is worth mentioning. Some vegans get all the nutrients they need from soy products. They might have soy milk with cereal for breakfast, edamame salad for lunch, and tofu stir-fry for dinner. Soy is very popular with the modern diet industry because it is inexpensive to grow and can easily be flavored and processed into many different types of food. Although it may be less expensive initially, relying on a crop that harms the soil will be costly in the long run. When you realize the health consequences of eating something, it suddenly doesn’t seem as appetizing.
In addition to the same lectins and phytic acid found in other legumes, soy also contains phytoestrogens. These chemicals act like environmental estrogens by mimicking the action of estrogen in the body. This means that the body is tricked into thinking that the imitation is estrogen. They are not capable of performing the same tasks as real estrogen. The mechanisms by which xenoestrogens act on the body are complex, but the upshot is that they tend to disrupt hormones because they tell the body it has enough estrogen, even though it actually doesn’t.
This hormonal imbalance can lead to the development of typically “feminine” traits like breasts and fat deposits on the hips in men, and impair fertility and cause all kinds of menstrual and other reproductive problems in women. The most alarming thing about phytoestrogens is that they have been linked to breast cancer and disruption of normal thyroid function. There’s no need to be alarmed (just eating soy products probably won’t cause any serious problems), but in a world full of other environmental estrogens and hormone-disrupting chemicals, soy adds yet another burden – and unlike many environmental pollutants, it’s something we can easily avoid.
Soy also contains trypsin inhibitors, which interfere with protein digestion. As well as hormones, it increases the body’s needs for several important micronutrients, including Vitamin B12 and Vitamin D. Soy protein powder is not a good choice because it is a processed, artificial food that is not part of a healthy diet. Avoid processed soy by having eggs or sardines after working out instead. There is no need to have processed soy every day, and there are many reasons why it is not a good idea.
The argument that soy is unhealthy is often met with the response that many Asians are much healthier and longer-lived than Americans, and they eat a lot of soy. One key difference between traditional Asian cuisine and other cuisines is the reliance on fermented foods. Fermenting food, such as legumes, makes them much more digestible and less harmful. Additionally, the soy products that were traditionally eaten as part of meals were not processed industrially, and were served alongside a diet that is also very nutrient-rich and includes lots of organ meats, bone broth, and vegetables. A bowl of broth with a small amount of fermented tofu is vastly different from a protein shake full of soy protein isolate, food coloring, and sugar.
One particular soy product, soy lecithin, is a challenge to avoid on the Paleo diet. The soy found in dark chocolate is a common Paleo indulgence. Although soy lecithin is often marketed as a health food, it is not necessarily any better for you than other types of soy. Soy lecithin is a byproduct of the production of soy oil. A moderate amount of chocolate contains a small amount of soy lecithin, which some people may not have a problem tolerating. However, it is not beneficial and it is easy to find a brand of chocolate without it.