Thursday, October 05, 2017 by Frances Bloomfield
Legumes are plants belonging to Leguminosae family that bear their fruits or seeds within pods. Though there are over 18,000 species of legumes, they’re generally placed under two classifications: grain legumes and forage legumes. While grain legumes are grown for human consumption, forage legumes are most frequently cultivated as livestock feed. On the other hand, some legumes such as clover and wisteria are cultivated for their flowers. The most well-known and readily available legumes are beans, alfalfa, peanuts, and peas.
Although legumes have an abundance of different nutrients, they’re full of substances that have negative health effects as well. The most notable ones are phytates, lectins, phytoestrogens, saponins, and protease inhibitors.
Legumes have a high purine content that can increase the levels of uric acid within susceptible individuals. The resulting elevated uric acid levels can lead to a gout attack.
Certain types of legumes should be avoided by individuals on particular medications. For example, people who are taking monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors are recommended to avoid fava beans since these legumes have been shown to interact with these kinds of medication and elevate blood pressure.
In addition, legumes have been known to trigger migraines or similar allergic reactions in certain people. The precise reason behind this has yet to be identified, though it’s believed that the tannin content in legumes are to blame for this effect.
Peanuts are legumes that can become host to aflatoxins. This type of mold is an “unavoidable contaminant” that can increase the risk of chronic diseases, such as hepatitis B and cancer, with long-term consumption.
Canned legumes are known to contain bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical component that keeps the metal material of the can from contaminating the legumes. BPA sounds helpful at first, but it can leech into the food instead. Behavioral changes, heart problems, obesity, and hormone disruption have all been linked to BPA, so consuming canned legumes can place one at greater risk of all of these health conditions.
Legumes can greatly impact the digestive system and heart. Most notably, legumes can cause flatulence problems. However, flatulence and other potential digestive issues can be prevented by rinsing, soaking, or sprouting legumes to strip of them of the substances that bring about these issues in the first place.
While legumes are generally healthy plant foods, they contain a diverse range of anti-nutrients that can make a person more susceptible to diseases like leaky gut syndrome, Crohn’s disease, bloating, and inflammation. Furthermore, legumes have been shown to detrimentally affect the digestive and cardiovascular system, especially when they haven’t undergone the necessary and appropriate preparations before cooking.
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