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Ingredients of soybeans, legumes and Co: Don't panic about lectins
Fruit and vegetables, legumes and cereal products should be on the menu regularly. But more and more people are concerned about a certain ingredient in many of these foods: lectins. However, experts believe that you shouldn't panic about it.
Health problems from lectins
According to experts, certain foods such as green beans should not be consumed raw because they contain harmful ingredients such as lectins. Depending on the amount, these proteins can cause mild stomach upset or intestinal inflammation. In recent years, more and more guides (books, TV programs and health websites) have dealt with the subject of lectins. But do food-conscious consumers really need to beware of certain food groups?
Damage to the intestinal wall
As the Consumer Service Bavaria explains in a communication, lectins have long been known substances in plant-based foods and beverages, which the body itself forms.
These are protein bodies (proteins) with a carbohydrate content. These can cause agglutination of the red blood cells.
For this reason, they are often referred to as agglutinins or hemagglutinins and, depending on the amount and lectin-specific, can lead to damage in the intestinal wall.
According to the consumer service, other diseases have not been scientifically confirmed.
Different reactions to heat
Lectin contains primarily soybeans, legumes and wheat germ, and in small quantities also tomatoes, raspberries, nuts and bananas.
They are found in wholegrain, onions and potatoes in just as small quantities.
Lectins react differently to the effects of heat. Therefore, heating legumes leads to a sharp reduction in the lectin content. Various wheat lectins, however, are heat stable.
No reason to panic
Prof. Dr. Bernhard Watzl, head of the Institute for Physiology and Biochemistry of Nutrition at the Max Rubner Institute, draws the following conclusion:
"The reason why humans have no damage to the intestinal tract despite regular physiological lectin intake is probably:
- On the small amounts of lectins ingested.
- On a protective layer of glycoconjugates (carbohydrate-protein compounds) on the intestinal epithelium.
- On the large intestinal area that faces the lectins from food. This reduces the toxicity of the lectins in the intestinal tract. "
Professor Watzl also points out that "health-promoting effects are now being discussed for some lectins."
For example, lectins could also inhibit the development of colorectal cancer, according to the scientist, which could be demonstrated on the basis of cellular studies.
According to the consumer service, there is no reason to panic and avoid lectins.
With a balanced diet, nobody has to do without legumes, tomatoes and whole grains or even abstain from abstinence for several weeks for no reason. (ad)