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Lectins…the “Mysterious” Plant Protein That’s Not!!

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The Reality of Lectins….a Plant Protein

Misinformation abounds when it comes to nutritional information.  Take for instance Dr. Atkins Diet Revolution….a low carb mode of eating which was at the top of the New York Times best-seller list for more than 300 weeks!  Since that time….it has been shown that increased risk of cancer, kidney disease, cardiovascular disease and elevated risk of death from any cause are elevated with this mode of eating!  And today, we have another best-selling book promulgating information which the science simply doesn’t support; the idea that “hazardous” lectins from plants will make you sick.

Lectins are a form of plant protein which we find to lesser and greater degrees in many different plants….but in people and even microbes, as well.  They are in heavy concentration in beans, whole grains, tomatoes, nuts, peppers, eggplant and more.  In this New Times best-selling book (and its accompanying cookbook is also on the list!) we’re led to believe these plants will cause obesity, gastric disease, pre-mature aging, cardiovascular disease and more.  Unfortunately, the science just isn’t there to support this idea.  By contrast, there are literally hundreds of studies regarding bean consumption which document that individuals and societies which consume the most beans control weight, diabetes and even longevity far better than those that consume fewer beans.  Even the Nurses Health Study, the largest study of its kind ever undertaken, demonstrates that the women eating the most beans have the lowest rates of breast cancer not an increased risk as this latest book would lead us to think!

Several lectins specifically are known to be thoroughly health giving and are being studied to see how they might be used to treat several health challenges.  One lectin in mushrooms has been shown to stop proliferation of cancer cells in living systems.  That’s not the only one…other lectins from bananas, jackfruit, wheat, fava beans, soy beans and buckwheat….are being studied for their anti-cancer promoting properties!

So in a day and age where the consumption of vegetables, fruits and beans is dangerously low….yet another book promoting limiting the consumption of such great foods without evidence to support it, is dangerous at best.  The CDC (Center for Disease Control) estimates that nearly 75% of all money spent on healthcare in our country goes to treating chronic diseases, most of which are diet-related and preventable.  Be sure to avoid unsupported advice and claims….you’ll only reap the benefits!

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