Vegans and Vegetarians: Over the Protein Argument? Let’s Talk Lectin

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In recent years, some undeniably healthy foods, such as legumes, fruits and peppers, have come under scrutiny for containing plant-based proteins called lectins. With passionate people on both sides of the debate, it’s difficult to tell if lectins are the healthy protein-based powerhouses that vegans and vegetarians thrive on or a source of chronic inflammation and digestive problems. Let’s take a closer look!

Quick Read:
Lectins, plant-based proteins found in seeds, legumes, fruits, wheat and vegetables, have recently come under scrutiny. In his book entitled “The Plant Paradox: The Hidden Dangers in ‘Healthy’ Foods That Cause Disease and Weight Gain,” Dr. Steven Gundry argued that lectins are toxic and lead to chronic inflammation and digestive issues. However, lectins are a crucial part of many vegan and vegetarian diets. Without lectins, people eating a plant-based diet would be protein deprived. So, are lectins good for you or evil? Continue reading to learn more!

How Much Protein Should You Eat? Find Out at the End of This Article!

Why Lectins Get a Bad Rap

Lectins are natural plant compounds found in healthy foods, such as legumes, grains, nuts, vegetables and whole wheat. Recently, they’ve been getting a bad rap due to the belief that they have inflammatory properties, meaning that they cause inflammation within the body that can lead to illness. These beliefs are based on fad diet trends and have no real basis.

Need more proof? There is a dietary inflammatory index, also known as DII, that measures the inflammatory properties of over 1900 foods. It says that many of the foods banned by lectin-free diets, like peppers, eggplants, legumes and vegetables, actually have anti-inflammatory properties — meaning they reduce inflammation within the body. In fact, according to the DII, lectin-rich winter squash and pumpkins score as two of the foods containing one of the most anti-inflammatory nutrients: beta carotene.

Lectins: Essential for Vegans and Vegetarians

Lectin-free diets are not advisable for plant-based eaters because eliminating foods that contain lectins would also eliminate much of the protein from a vegan or vegetarian diet. Protein is essential in a healthy, well-balanced diet. Furthermore, foods that contain lectins also contain lots of fiber, which helps maintain blood glucose levels and wards off weight gain.

How Much Protein You Really Need

So, how much protein do you really need? You should consume approximately 0.36 grams of protein per pound of body weight, says Healthline. That’s equal to about 46 grams for the average woman and 56 grams for the average man. It should be noted that these averages are for inactive people. Active people may need more protein, especially if they wish to build muscle.

As mentioned, vegans and vegetarians get much of their protein from lectin-based foods. For example, a cup of lentils contains 18 grams of protein. One cup of soybeans provides a whopping 34 grams of protein.

The bottom line: if you have a sensitivity to lectin, it may be a good idea to reduce or eliminate it from your diet. But don’t get caught up in the hype. There is no evidence that lectins are bad for you. What’s more, there is a lot of evidence out there that says they’re very good for you, and they’re a great source of plant-based protein to boot.

~Here’s to Your Healthy Ascension!

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