If you’ve read up on lectins before, then you know there are different kinds of lectins found in all types of fruits, vegetables, and plants. You may also know that researchers are in a sort of dawn of discovery when it comes to lectins. So, while there’s a lot of information about different lectins out there, there’s still a lot more to learn.
Of course, one of the basics is that lectins are a group of proteins (found mostly in plant seeds and peels) that bind carbohydrates and clump together various cells in your body.1 They’re especially prevalent in legumes. In fact, when it comes to legume seeds (aka beans), lectins can make up approximately 30 percent of the total protein.2 That’s a lot when you think about it.
The thing is, different lectins can really do a number on your body if you let them. For instance, different lectins could potentially cause –
- Leaky Gut
- Other digestive issues
But, one of the good things researchers have discovered about lectins is that even though these carb-binding proteins can recognize and bind simple or complex carbohydrates — the binding is actually reversible in certain cases.3
So, let’s say you ingest a certain type of lectin… the sugars in your body will become targets for that lectin, but the binding effects can essentially be undone. Bottom line: If you avoid eating lectins, you can manage, or reverse, some of the potential damage.
It’s a big deal, because there’s a lot of sugar in your body. And when the lectins you consume bind to those sugars, they can really interfere with your body’s everyday functions.4
Read on the learn to identify a few different lectins to avoid, and to see if there are ways to minimize some of the negative health effects.
Now, there are many different lectin proteins out there. And to be frank, they’re not all that easy to spell or pronounce. Here are just a few types of common lectins to avoid:
Concanavalin A (derived from Canavalia ensiformis)
Concanavalin A is a lectin found in the jackbean that specifically binds glucose and mannose.5
The jackbean is a tropical plant with long pods and white seeds. It’s commonly called the magic bean. While you can consume the pods and seeds, they’re filled with lectins. Unfortunately, this bean is used in a lot of animal foods. And remember, you are not only what you eat… you’re also what you last ate. So, make sure to find pasture-raised meats that aren’t fed processed feed — which often contains beans and grains.
Ricinus communis (found in Agglutinin, ricin, and RCA120 Ricinus communis)
Ricinus communis is a rapid-growth shrub that produces small toxic seeds. The plant can adapt to many types of environments and is grown the world over. The seeds, or beans, are toxic, and in rare instances, poisoning can occur if you ingest broken seeds or break the seed by chewing.6
Peanut agglutinin (derived from Arachis hypogaea)
The peanut is a legume grown for its edible seeds. However, though many people love the peanut, is does contain lectins that are to be avoided. In fact, the lectin, peanut agglutinin, accounts for ~0.15 percent of the weight of the average peanut. Not only that, but studies show the lectin is pretty resistant to cooking and can enter the blood relatively quickly after ingestion.7
Hairy vetch lectin (found in Vicia villosa)
The hairy vetch lectin is one of the kinds of legume lectins found in the plant grown for soil improvement along different roads. While hairy vetch can enrich the soil, it is also used for pastures so cattle (and the like) can graze. But vetches are largely susceptible to several types of fungal diseases: Root Rot, Gray Mold, and Downy Mildew, to name a few.8
Wheat Germ agglutinin (derived from Triticum vulgaris)
Wheat Germ Agglutinin is a toxic compound and anti-nutritional factor.9 Some studies point to some negative effects when WGA is ingested, showing it can actually interact with several kinds of cell membranes and might even alter the ability of your intestinal lining to function properly within the human bowel.10
Those are just a few of the most common lectins out there, but you’ll also want to keep an eye out for these different lectins as well:
- Maackia amurensis lectin (from the Maackia amurensis)
- Lentil Lectin (found in the Lens culinaris)
- Ulex europaeus agglutinin (from the Ulex europaeus)
- Aleuria aurantia lectin (derived from the Aleuria aurantia)
- Snowdrop lectin (found in Galanthus nivalis)
- Jacalin (Artocarpus integrifolia)
- Elderberry lectin (Sambucus nigra)
In The End…
Whether you’re dealing with the most common lectins, or coming across much lesser known varieties, the issue remains the same: Stay away. Remember, the potential damage caused by these various proteins can likely be reversed. By eliminating them from your diet, you’ll be well on your way to living a healthier, more comfortable life.
Learn More About Lectins:
A Simple Lectins Definition (and how they make us fat & sick)
5 Ways Your Body Deals with Lectins Naturally
5 Delicious Lectin-Free Mexican Food Recipes