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Should You Be Worried About Lectins?

Beans_

I love eating different grains and beans. In fact, one of my favourite meals is lentils and rice. But there’s a growing buzz about lectins in these foods. Are lectins the new gluten? Here are 5 things you need to know.

1. Lectins are a family of proteins that bind to carbohydrates. Lectins are found in all foods, but are most concentrated in legumes and grains. Uncooked, raw legumes such as red and white kidney beans are one of the biggest sources of lectins. Lectins help protect plants from attacks by pests and insects.

2. Lectins aren’t easily digested, so they pass through the stomach and into the gut where they may “stick” to the gut wall. Eating high amounts of lectins may damage the lining of the gut, potentially causing digestive issues. For example, eating RAW or undercooked or improperly cooked kidney beans can lead to vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain.

3. Some people, such as those with Crohn’s disease or inflammatory bowel syndrome, may be more sensitive to lectins. If you have these conditions, speak to a Registered Dietitian to determine the amount of lectins that will minimize any symptoms or flare-ups.

4. Cooking eliminates almost all of the lectins in foods. Boiling legumes and grains in water for example is an easy way to get rid of lectins. Soaking beans, sprouting seeds and grains, and fermenting foods are other ways to lower the lectin content of foods. Canned beans have very low lectin levels due to the canning process.

5. Remember that many lectin-containing foods also provide important nutrients. Grains offer B vitamins, iron and fibre. Legumes offer protein, fibre, iron and zinc. So don’t worry about lectins. Instead, cook your grains and legumes, and enjoy!

What A Dietitian Eats

Sue Kelsey

As one of my monthly segments on CTV Your Morning, I thought it would be fun to do a little show and tell of my meals in a day. So here we go…this is what a dietitian eats!

Watch the interview here!

Breakfast – Veggie and cheese omelet

breakfast omelet

For breakfast, I try to make sure that I’m getting protein and veggies, so an omelet is perfect! Eggs are a great source of protein and the egg yolk is filled with nutrients such as lutein, omega-3 fat and choline. I add a slice of whole wheat toast for wholesome carbs and fibre. If I know my morning will be super busy, then I’ll make the omelet the night before and just heat it up in the morning for a quick breakfast.

Lunch – Lentil Shepherd’s Pie

lunch lentil shep pie

I love lentils! This is a fantastic vegetarian, plant-based lunch and a lighter version of your typical Shepherd’s Pie. Find the recipe here. Again, I’m looking for protein and veggies in my meal – lentils provide the protein and iron; carrots and stewed tomatoes count towards my veggies. The mashed potato topping is actually mixed with some cottage cheese to boost the calcium count. I pair this meal with some fresh fruit such as strawberries and kiwi – the vitamin C in the fruit improves the iron absorption from the lentils. My plan is to make this recipe on the weekend and re-heat it for a fast and nutrition packed lunch.

Afternoon Snack – Coffee, peanuts and fresh fruit

coffee snack

My mornings start at 6 am, so by mid afternoon, I’m feeling like I need an energy boost. A little bit of caffeine and some protein help me stay alert. Coffee is a treat for me – with double cream and double sugar! I aim to eat at least one green veggie and at least one orange veggie or fruit every day – I’m choosing a peach which is in season now. Peanuts are great for protein and they also contain magnesium which helps to fight stress.

Dinner – Baked salmon with quinoa arugula salad

Dinner salmon

I try to eat fish at least twice a week. Salmon is my go-to for heart healthy omega-3 fats, and it’s super easy to cook in the toaster oven. This is an Asian inspired recipe with a soy sauce and sesame oil marinade. I make a batch of quinoa ahead of time and use it in different ways throughout the week. Here, I’ve tossed some quinoa with arugula and added in some roasted beets and corn kernels. I set a goal to include at least 2 types of veggies at dinner time and make half my plate veggies.


Dessert – Fresh fruit salad with a small piece of dark chocolate

I usually have fresh fruit for dessert. Sometimes I’ll pair the fruit with a piece of dark chocolate. I love to bake, and never turn down a homemade cookie or slice of apple pie with ice cream!

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