Legumes, How come they are bad for us?

I get this response every time I tell someone that legumes are not part of a Paleo Diet.  It is a look with a tilted head, squinted eyes and open mouth with a huh?

Yesterday, I got an email from a dear new friend of mine named Philip.  Hey, Eileen, real quick…. Why don’t we eat legumes?  I realized that many of you have that question, so here we go.

What is a Legume? Basically it a food develops a pod.  It has a seam that opens on both sides. Examples of legumes are alfalfa, clover, peas, beans, lentils, carob, soy and peanuts.

First, we have heard lot’s of information about the “raw food diet” and the benefits that we derive from eating raw foods.  And, there is a lot to be said about some of them… but not all of them.  Some raw foods are toxic to our bodies.  This may be new information for some of you. But let’s investigate what this means.

Raw red kidney beans included in the diet as low as 1%  (or 37% of daily calories) can cause death in rats within 2 weeks.  These beans must be soaked, cooked at a certain temperature for a certain period of time to reduce the anti nutrients found in not only these, but also all beans. This is not to frighten you, but to let you know that this is something that needs to be taken seriously.  Undercooked beans have been known to cause nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, muscle weakness and inflammation of the heart.

Soybeans – for oh so many reasons.  Read my article on soy, but for purposes here in addition to the isoflavones (see article) soy beans causes red blood cells to clump together. (hemagglutinin), is a phytoestrogen which affects our hormonal system, is a phytate which prevents the absorption of minerals, contains saponins which causes gut irritation, and just for a sense of humor, beans give us gas.

Nutritionally beans fall short on protein when compared to chicken and turkey, seafood, lean beef and pork.  “The proteins found in beans, peas and other legumes have poor digestibility” – Dr. Loren Cordain “The Paleo Answer”

Something I have wanted to address is the term  “Phytate” and Anti-nutrient”.  We will talk about these in another article, but for this I just want you to know the terms, what they mean and that legumes absolutely fall into this category.

Anti-nutrients impair our bodies ability to absorb and assimilate potential nutrients found in food.  Here is the definition according to Wikipedia:

Antinutrients are natural or synthetic compounds that interfere with the absorption of nutrients.  Nutrition studies focus on those antinutrients commonly found in food sources and beverages.

One common example is Phytic Acid which forms insoluble complexes with calcium, zinc, iron and copper. Proteins can also be ant-nutrients, such as lectins found in legumes

Legumes contain Lectins, saponins, phytates, isoflavones, protease inhibitors and other harmful qualities.

Just as a side note, remember that grains are a huge contributing source of lectins as well.   Lectins are potent antinutrients.  Cooking them does reduce but not eliminate the negative impact on our bodies.  These impacts include inflammation to our bodies that are directly related to autoimmune disease.  Included in this category are atherosclerosis (heart disease) and cancer.

Saponins.  We talked about this before, but these antinutrients are found in almost all legumes.  They are derived from the Latin word for “soap” Saponins act very similar to lectins and allows toxins and bacteria to interact with our immune system.    Cooking does not destroy them.

Just as a side note, soy protein isolate has dangerously high concentrations of saponins.  Many athletes will find this in their shakes, energy bars or supplements.  Please, Please, read your labels! If you search the web for SPI and saponins you will see tons of information and studies.

And lastly a quick note about Phytates.  They prevent the full absorption of iron, zinc, calcium and magnesium.  Eating legumes in addition to the other harmful effects leave us more nutrient deficient.

Women (and infants) particularly should be aware of the harmful effects of soy.

Remember that peanuts are not a nut, but a legume.

There are still many wonderful foods to eat.  Experiment.  Try a new food.  Who knows, you might like it!

About Mickel

Husband, Father, fitness enthusiast. GTfit founder. We often settle and find that moving, even at a slow pace hard. I am here to show you that no matter how slow - PROGRESS IS STILL PROGRESS. #evolve

Posted on 02/15/2012, in Paleo Living. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. I have been eating legumes for many years now and have experienced neither Inflammation nor any digestive problems. You get read of any harmful products in the beans when you cook them right. Such as soaking and fermenting them which is something everyone already does when wanting to eat beans!

  2. Another note about protein… Leafy greens top the list of high protein foods. They’ve got more protein than legumes or meat. I don’t understand why anyone would want to eat meat, personally. Meat is murder, and it’s the #1 worst thing for the planet! All those animals people eat get their protein from, like… Grass!

    • How many leafy greens would you have to eat to get any significant protein from them? I know they contain a little bit, but I feel like you would have to eat something crazy like 8 cups of kale just to equal a half a chicken breast’s worth of protein.

      • Humans were never intended to eat meat. Also, we don’t need near as much protein as the F&DA says we should. If you believe in the Bible, read up on what Adam and Eve ate in the Garden of Eden. Also, read about Daniel and the diet he lived on. Read the book
        “God’s Original Diet” for more great info. It changed my life.

    • Silliest comment I ever heard. People actually think that just because cows eat grass that we don’t need meat? DUMB. It might go in as grass, but it becomes something else. If we eat grass, we don’t build protein. Vegetarians are well known for being weaklings. The only ones that aren’t are the ones who eat man-made supplements made from concentrated plant protein, which is poison to the body. All we need is found in nature. And the protein we need must come from animals. Including the fats. People have known this for thousands of years. And it takes a pretty ignorant person to think there’s more wisdom from the present than there is from time tested wisdom. Animals weren’t just put here to look at or control. There is an abundance because they are part of the food chain. Try observing animals killing animals for food. Perfectly natural reality. Vegetarians are people who have been completely deceived by politics. The Paleo Diet is the first “fad” diet that falls inline with what we were meant to eat. And those who think beans are healthy? Try looking at century long stats. They have caused a ton of health problems for millions over the years.

      • I forgot to mention one thing. Paleo advocates have been led to believe that pork is good for you. THEY ARE WRONG. Science has proven over and over how bad pork is for you. But the Holy Bible told it first. NO PIGS!! Its an unclean animal. And it isn’t the only one. So those things should be excluded altogether. It’s poisonous to the body. So why try to be healthy and eat bacon? Kind of ignorant.

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