Whole grains, nightshade vegetables, kidney beans and other legumes. What do all of these so thought “healthy” plant foods have in common? They’re full of dangerous dietary lectins. But there are other toxic culprits out there and it’s high time they’re made known. Among them: the cucumber.
Cucumbers do have substantial lectin content. So then will the lectins in cucumbers lead to sensitivity reactions? What would those toxic lectin reactions look like and how can they be managed or stopped? Read on to learn how dietary lectins can affect your digestive tract, as well as ways to avoid eating foods that have a high lectin content.
First Things First: What Are Lectins And How Can They Affect Your Digestive Tract?
Lectins are plant proteins that can mess with your body’s nutrient absorption processes (among other things). You can find lectins in various whole grains and plant foods throughout the vegetable world. But lectins are actually one of nature’s most effective defenses against getting eaten.
In technical terms, lectins are “carbohydrate-binding proteins of non-immune origin that agglutinate cells.”1 In simpler terms, lectins are proteins that make carbs stick together. These clumps then attach themselves to the cells in your body when you ingest them.
So, if you eat high-lectin foods such as certain seeds, whole grains, or vegetable skins, you may be inviting lectins to find the sugars in your body and latch on for dear life.
One example is the wheat germ agglutinin, a troubling lectin found in whole grains. Lectins such as wheat germ agglutinin love to bind to sialic acid (the sugar found in your brain, gut, and nerves).2,3
Many people turn to vegetables when they’re focused on weight loss or health. And vegetables are great, but you should know which contain lectins and which do not. Because ingesting these proteins can mess with your system. How so?
Well, lectins can interrupt certain tasks your body needs to accomplish to keep you healthy.4 The result can be swelling and redness, nausea, weight gain, diarrhea, and vomiting.5 And the histamines in cucumbers don’t help either.
Can You Prepare Cucumbers in a Way to Reduce Lectin Consumption?
Again, cucumbers are relatively high in lectins. However, if you love them so much you can’t go without them, there are ways to reduce your lectin intake. First, you want to peel the cucumber. Many of the cucumber’s lectins can be found in their skin. By taking off the skin, you limit the number of lectins you’re putting in your system.
Another way to reduce the lectins in this diet food is to cut the seed-laden center out. There’s a good amount of ‘meat’ to the cucumber that doesn’t contain seeds.
If you slice the cucumber in half, you can run a spoon along the center to scoop out the seeds. The part you’ll be left with will contain fewer lectins than when you started, but will NOT be lectin-free.
Fruits And Vegetables To Eat In Place Of Cucumbers: Other Plant Foods To Try
There are a plethora of other vegetables you can use in place of the cucumber for crunch, sweetness, and earthiness. Though some of the suggestions below may seem like odd substitutes, they contain absolutely no (or very few) hazardous lectins.
- Brussels sprouts
- Bok choy
- Raw sauerkraut
- Hearts of palm
- Sea vegetables
Notable veggie replacements for cucumbers are bok choy (especially the stem), celery, slightly-cooked carrots, beets, radishes, and hearts of palm. These particular veggies can mimic the texture of a cucumber in a salad or any other type of dish.
Try These Other Food Recipes In Your Lectin Free Diet: Recipes, Ingredients, And Steps
If you’re committed to your lectin free diet, you know there are a bunch of great recipes you can use. These dishes can help keep you focused on your health and weight loss efforts. What are the best veggie recipes for your lectin free diet? Try these…
Sorghum Salad with Radicchio For Four
Sorghum is a resistant starch with no hull or lectins. Cook it when you have a free hour or so. You can always make extra to freeze, too.
What You’ll Need:
- 1 cup sorghum
- 3 cups vegetable broth
- 5 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon of sea salt
- 3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 3 Tbsp rinsed capers
- 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
- 1 clove garlic
- 1⁄2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
- 1 head chopped radicchio
- 4 hearts of palm
- 1⁄2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
What To Do:
- Rinse the sorghum and discard debris.
- Put the broth and a Tbsp of the olive oil in your saucepan. Let it work up to a boil. Stir in the sorghum. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for 2 hours. Stir every 20 minutes and add broth as needed to keep it from drying out. When the sorghum is light and fluffy, it’s complete.
- Refrigerate or freeze the cooked sorghum if need be. If you’re going to cook with it now, let it rest at room temperature.
- For the dressing, combine the vinegar, 5 Tbsp olive oil, capers, coriander, and garlic in a food processor. Process until smooth.
- Finally, mix the sorghum, nuts, radicchio, hearts of palm, and parsley in a bowl. Add your dressing and toss.
Another great cucumber-free recipe is Dr. Gundry’s…
Marinated Grilled Cauliflower “Steaks” For Four
What You’ll Need:
- 1⁄2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons minced onion
- 1⁄2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
- 1⁄4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Sea salt
- Cracked black pepper
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 2 heads cauliflower
What To Do:
- Place the olive oil, onion, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, and cayenne pepper in a bowl. Add salt, pepper, and lemon juice. Whisk to combine and transfer the mixture to a shallow pan.
- Cut off the cauliflower stems flush with the head. Place the stem ends down on your cutting board. Slice each cauliflower in half. Then cut into 1-inch-thick slices. These will be your ‘steaks’.
- Place your grill pan over medium-high heat on the stovetop. Dip the cauliflower in the marinade. Next, place on your grill pan to cook for 8 minutes per side, until nicely browned on the outside.
Lectin-Friendly Cucumber Preparation And Substitution
These savory, crunchy dishes are healthy and lectin-free. They’re both good in a pinch and will make you forget you were ever craving cucumber, to begin with.
You don’t need to rely on old information when it comes to the best foods for your health and weight loss efforts. New research is being done each and every day in an effort to help inform you and keep you feeling your best.