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Lectin-Rich Foods to Avoid and Healthy Alternatives

01 january 2018

Lectin-Rich Foods to Avoid and Healthy Alternatives

Lectins; they are everywhere, even in that food you thought was healthy. But what exactly is a lectin? Simply put they are a plant’s go-to defense mechanism against predators. They instigate discomfort and sickness in insects and animals who prey on them so these animals might avoid them in the future. 

So, lectins are bad. That’s clearly outlined; but the lectin-rich foods to steer clear of, not so much. To shed more light on the matter, here’s a complete breakdown of what to eat and which foods to be wary of. 


Lectin-potent foods your mother never warned you about 

This category encompasses the following: 

  • Inflammatory oils like canola and  
  • Eggs  
  • Roots, Tubers, Sugar, Seeds, fruits and grains or pseudo-grains 
  • Farm animal protein 
  • Corn, Nightshade plants, Soy and Regular dairy 


Let’s delve deeper into the NO category. For starters, starchy foods can have a negative effect on your health. However, the following starches should be at the top of your blacklist if you’re aiming to win the lectin battle. 


Steer clear of refined starches such as: 

  • Milk, Bread, Potatoes, and Potatoes chip 
  • Pasta, Rice, Sugar, Cereal, and Flours from grains 
  • Tortillas, Cookies, Agave, Diet drinks, and Crackers 
  • Sweet’n Low, Splenda, Maltodextrin, and SweetOne 


The following are fruits and veggies with an abundance of lectins to stay away from: 

  • Tomatoes and cucumbers (Unless deseed and/or peeled) 
  • Tofu, chickpeas, goji berries, squash, pumpkins, peas, and edamame 
  • Soy, green beans, legumes, melons, ripe bananas, and sugar snap peas 
  • All fruits save for in-season varieties, zucchini, and all beans (sprouts included) 
  • All lentils, soy protein, and eggplants 
  • Bell and chili peppers (unless deseeded) 


Seeds and Nuts to kick to the curb: 

  • Chia 
  • Sunflower 
  • Pumpkin 
  • Cashews 
  • Peanuts  


The following encompasses a list of regular dairy that need to be shown the door: 

  • Casein protein powder, frozen yogurt, greek yogurt, and kefir 
  • Cottage cheese, ricotta, and American cheese 
  • Casein A-1 milk and Casein A-1 yogurt 


Get rid of any and all soy-fed and grain-fed proteins such as: 

  • Pork 
  • Lamb 
  • Shellfish 
  • Beef  
  • Poultry 
  • Fish 


Your menu should also be free of grasses and pseudo-grains or sprouted Grains like: 

  • Oats, kashi, popcorn, rye, bulgur, barley, and quinoa 
  • White and brown rice, buckwheat, spelt, and whole grains 
  • Wheat kamut, wheat einkorn, wheatgrass and barley grass 
  • Corn, corn syrup, corn products, and cornstarch. 


Oils to scrape off the menu include: 

  • Vegetable oil (particularly hydrogenated) 
  • Safflower, sunflower, coy, peanut and canola oil 
  • Grapeseed, cottonseed, and soy oil 


This list in its entirety covers quite a large number of household favorites, but if you must indulge in these foods, here is the safest way to do so. The following trio of pointers should help keep their lectin levels to a minimum: 


  • Embrace pressure cooking when preparing potatoes, beans, tomatoes, and quinoa. This can help to eliminate a considerable amount of lectins. It won’t do away with all of them but it can make a great difference. 
  • Deseed and remove the peel, hull, or rind of fruits and veggies, since these parts have an abundance of lectins. 
  • With regards to grains and rice, white over brown is the general rule of thumb. Even with brown rice, be sure to eliminate the hull (just as countless generations that look to rice as a staple food have done for generations). This rule also applies to bread as well (the white over brown rule that is). 


Lectins might be a plant’s primary survival tactic but for humans, they can result in serious digestive issues like: 

  • Nausea 
  • Diarrhea 
  • Vomiting 

Statistics indicate that an astonishing 70% of the foods known to man do not contain or contain a small amount of lectins. So, focus on this category and shun the remaining portion; foods like out of season fruits, ordinary milk, corn, and corn-fed (free-range) animal proteins. 


Here’s a list of what you should eat 

For veggies, the following are great lectin-free or low-lectin options: 

  • Arugula, Swiss chard, Cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, Broccoli and Cabbage 
  • Watercress, Nopales cactus, Kimchi, Bok choy, Collards and Radicchio 
  • Raw sauerkraut, Kale, Garlic, Asparagus, Onions, Celery, Chives and Okra 
  • Carrots, Hearts of palm, Cilantro, Beets, Radishes and Scallions 
  • Scallions, Chicory, Chives, Artichokes, Endive, Mesclun and Chicory 
  • Butter lettuce, Romaine, Dandelion greens, Kohlrabi, Spinach and Mint 
  • Sea vegetables, Seaweed, Basil, Fennel, Mushrooms, Algae and Escarole 
  • Parsley, Perilla, Purslane and Mustard greens 

Limit your Protein 

The standard limit for protein daily is about 8 ounces of grass-fed beef, pastured chicken, or fish caught in the wild. This breaks down to at most 4 ounces twice daily. 


Oils that get the thumbs up include: 

  • Coconut, avocado, flaxseed and hemp oil 
  • Sesame, macadamia nut, extra-virgin olive, and walnut oil 


If you're looking to give your food that extra something in regards to flavor, then the following lectin-free condiments and spices are great options: 

  • Mustard 
  • Sea salt 
  • Vinegar 
  • Fresh herbs and cracked black pepper 


Words of Advice 

Sticking to a lectin-free diet might seem like almost everything you liked before is now out of the picture. But eventually, you’ll realize there are a lot more options on the table than you think. Try your hand at new recipes and, of course, keep abreast with the latest news on lectin-free menus. In long run, this kind of living can catapult you and your family to healthier lifestyles and overall wellness.