The answer is, a little of both. And at the end of the day, what really matters is how your unique body feels when you eat them. Some examples of legumes include beans, peanuts, peas, and lentils.
Many health-minded people, especially those interested in the paleo
diet, argue that legumes should be avoided because they contain lectins
and phytic acid. Lectins are proteins that bind to cell membranes.
They’ve been shown to cause damage to the lining of the small intestine
and to skeletal muscle, as well as interfere with the proper functioning
of the pancreas.
these results were taken from studies in which animals consumed large
amounts of raw legumes. Most of us humans would not be consuming such
large portions of legumes, and we would eat them cooked, not raw. So, we
can’t say for sure that the deleterious effects observed in the studies
would actually be that dramatic among humans who consume normal amounts
of cooked legumes. That said, it may be a good idea to avoid peanuts
when possible, as both raw peanuts and peanut oil are high in lectins.
Phytic acid is the stored form of phosphorous found in many plants,
particularly in nuts and seeds, and in the bran or hull of grains. While
many herbivores can digest phytic acid, humans can’t. And because it
binds to minerals, it can prevent us from fully absorbing the minerals
in our food.
It also interferes with digestive enzymes. However, our gut bacteria
produce enzymes that can break down phytic acid. What’s more, phytic
acid can actually have some benefits, like helping to prevent the
formation of free radicals and the accumulation of heavy metals.
Fiber and nutrients
You’re probably aware that legumes are a good source of fiber, which can
help to prevent colon and rectal cancer, heart disease, and type 2
diabetes, and can play a beneficial role in stabilizing blood sugar.
In addition, legumes contain a number of important nutrients, like B
vitamins, folate, and antioxidants. However, not all of these nutrients
are particularly bioavailable, due to the presence of phytic acid.
So if you’re concerned with getting the most bang for your buck when
it comes to selecting your foods, there are certainly more
nutrient-dense options than legumes.
Another reason some people choose to stay away from legumes is that they
contain FODMAPs, an acronym deriving from fermentable oligo-, di-,
mono-saccharides and polyols, which are carbohydrates that are not
always well absorbed in the body. They can cause gas, bloating, and
other digestive challenges.
However, not everyone has trouble absorbing FODMAPs, so if you don’t
experience any symptoms after eating legumes, this probably isn’t an
issue for you.
So what’s the final verdict? As with so many decisions when it comes
to food and diet, whether or not you eat legumes is a personal decision
based on how you feel when you eat them. If legumes cause bloating for
you, try taking a break from eating them. If you don’t experience any
undesirable symptoms when you eat them, feel free to dig in!
—The Alternative Daily