Which Grains Are Lectin-Free Friendly?2024-04-29T10:09:37+00:00

Lectin-Free, High, & Low Lectin Grains

Are you someone that eats lectin-free, or at least tries to cut out known high lectin foods? Maybe you even lower your intake of them, or lower your lectin intake where it’s possible.

You’re probably here because you are interested in knowing more about what grains are lectin-free, low in lectins, and/or high in lectins.

Thankfully, we have some information to share with you on just that!

What Are Lectins?

Lectins are a type of protein that exists in many plant-based foods.

Are Lectins Really Bad For You?

While there is a lot of confusion regarding whether lectins are healthy or not, there are a number of things we can know.

First a foremost, just because a food has shown positive attributes, does not necessarily indicate that a person should eat it, and just because a food has shown negative attributes, does not necessarily indicate that it’s bad to eat.

We’ll reveal far more in this article!

Gluten-Free Grains On A Lectin-Free Diet

Gluten is an example of a lectin, which commonly exists in grain-based products. For example, many breads and flours contain gluten – hence why you see so many gluten-free versions of these products!

Of course, there are other foods that mark themselves as gluten-free, and many times gluten can be added to a product for example as flour, because it acts as a “sticky” substance that brings ingredients together or thickens them, thereby improving the texture and enjoyability of the food.

This doesn’t mean you can’t find great gluten-free products, and of course there are many with great reviews! That being said, one of the main complaints of gluten-free products is that they tend to fall apart, and they often use different gums as an alternative to flour.

While we haven’t seen much with regards to gluten-free flours or gluten-free grains in terms of lectins, they do often contain foods that come from higher lectin foods, such as potato flour, which comes from potatoes, rice flour which comes from rice, and peas and beans which are legumes.

Let’s now get into some grains that have lectins in research.

High Lectin Grains

There are a number of grains that have shown lectins in research, including several types of quinoa, barley, rice, and sorghum.1, 2 Any grain that contains gluten also would not be lectin-free.

Black quinoa, white quinoa, and red quinoa all showed lectins.

  1. quinoa, black
  2. quinoa, white
  3. quinoa, red
  4. barley
  5. rice
  6. sorghum
  7. gluten-containing foods

There are a number of high lectin grains that have shown lectins in research, including several types of quinoa, barley, rice, and sorghum. Any grain that contains gluten also would not be lectin free and would not be a low lectin food. Black quinoa, white quinoa, and red quinoa all showed lectins in research. Also, barley showed lectins in research.

Rice showed lectins in research. Although, when looking at the research on lectins in rice, interestingly enough, there were a number of different cultivars that were tested, and the amount of lectins in each varied.

Some of them had more lectins than others, and some of them were detected as having having no lectins. So this raises a question about whether certain rice might be lectin-free or at least a very low in lectins, such that it didn’t show up on testing.

Now it certainly seems that outside of that, white rice is the lowest in lectins because it has the hull removed. Additionally, sprouted rice would be lower in lectins than brown rice because sprouting reduces the amount of lectins in foods and other anti-nutrients.

For example, phytic acid, which is in brown rice, is reduced during the process of sprouting, and that phytic acid could reduce mineral absorption. So sprouting increases the bio-availability of minerals in the food.

It’s been stated that many ancient cultures and tribes, when they would eat grains, would would always sprout their foods before they ate them.

Now they were much more in tune with the land and the different things that they were eating, so they may have been able to notice with more refinement that there was a distinct difference.

They may just have had that knowledge and that knowledge may have been passed down, and it became a norm that it was a beneficial thing to do. So, eating sprouted rice or perhaps even sprouted quinoa and things like that, could reduce the lectin count, although it may not eliminate it entirely.

Sorghum is another one that was shown to have lectins in research. Although sorghum is generally not a very common food, and so it’s not very likely that you’ll see it in any of the foods that you would buy at the grocery store. Although, it is a bit more common perhaps at health food stores.

Anything that contains gluten is automatically going to contain lectins because gluten is a type of lectins. So if you are unsure whether a certain food contains lectins and it says that it does contain gluten, then you automatically know that it contains lectins.

If you are at a restaurant or something like that and you ask for a gluten free version or there’s a gluten free version, you’re not necessarily certain that that’s going to be a lectin-free version because it could potentially contain lectins from other foods that contain lectins.

For example, they might use potatoes, which are higher in lectins than many other foods and are considered a high lectin food.

So that would be something to consider as well. That being said, if you eat pretty close to paleo, for example, if you go for meats, vegetables, fruits, and then maybe, like, sweet potatoes or something like that, then you’re generally going to be pretty close to lectin free.

Although vegetables and fruits could obviously contain some amount of lectins too. However, many people have posed the question, should you really be cutting out this many foods and what amount of lectins really is a problem?

Furthermore, is it really the case that all of these foods should be cut out, or maybe there’s just some of them that should be cut out, or at least that should be cut out until the person can tolerate them.

However, some people would just argue that a bunch of the high lectin foods you shouldn’t eat anyway, or that gluten you shouldn’t eat anyway, and there might be a number of reasons for that. That goes a bit beyond the scope of this article because we would be getting too far outside of the realm of things perhaps.

Either way, there have been tons and tons of foods that have been shown to have lectins, and furthermore, there have been some foods that have been shown to have lectins and then in other instances not shown to have lectins.

And you may begin to wonder, how accurate even is the lectin testing? How much does it really matter once it gets down to a low enough amount? How many lectins is a low enough amount of lectins?

One of the things you might consider is how many lectins is a low enough amount of lectins in the food. One of the reasons why people believe that eating beans and peas and things like that, which have all tested to have high amounts of lectins, is okay, is because when you cook those foods, the amount of lectins dramatically reduces. And therefore, they are deemed safe to eat.

Interestingly enough, if you when other parts of plants have been analyzed, for example, you know, parts of the stick of the tree, or things like that, they do sometimes contain lectins.

These are parts of the plant that are perhaps less desirable to be eaten (and often cannot be eaten by people). Those are the foods that we generally don’t eat, whereas the ones that are lower in lectins, we would eat.

So it raises the question, how low is low enough? And I think that this is still up in the air because certain foods could have a higher amount of lectins, and be raw, but maybe not even cause a person problems.

That being said, again, is this a quantity thing? It’s been said before that all foods contain lectins. Is this true or not? I’m not exactly sure. So there’s still a bit of confusion around that. However, one of the things that can be seen is that there are certain foods that when tested, at least raw, have very high amounts of lectins, especially those that are legumes, such as peas and beans.

But there are plenty of other foods that have shown lectins in testing as well.

low lectin powder

Low Lectin Grains

What are some low lectin grains? So there has been some research that has shown low lectin grains, and primarily what has come up is millet.

Millet has been shown to not contain lectins in both finger millet and pearl millet.2

  1. millet – finger millet
  2. pearl millet
  3. wheat* (wheat has also been shown to contain lectins, more details below)

Interestingly enough, there was also research that showed that wheat did not contain lectins after 15 minutes of boiling¹, which is a very strange idea because we know that generally speaking, wheat contains gluten.

And so why would it not show lectins upon boiling? Was it that the amount of lectins was so low that there were no lectins detected despite the fact that there were lectins?

This raises a question about the accuracy of lectin testing and it also raises a question of, is this a threshold phenomenon where there could be lectins, but they’re not high enough to be detected.

So this contradicts with other research that would show that wheat does contain gluten and lectins. So that’s that.

Now there has been oats which are gluten free, whereas other oats have been shown to contain gluten. That being said, we’re not sure that just because the oat is gluten free that it necessarily would be lectin-free.

So as mentioned before, all grains will be lower in lectins once they’re cooked. However, how low is another question entirely, and it’s hard to say exactly quantities because there hasn’t been a lot of research done on the quantities.

Lectin-Free Grains

As far as lectin-free grains goes, what are some lectin free grains?

It’s hard to say which grains are lectin-free because of what we just stated above in the section about low lectin grains. We stated that millet, specifically finger millet and pearl millet, both showed to have no lectins in lectin testing.

This would seem to indicate that they’re lectin-free. However, there was also research that showed that wheat had no lectin activity after boiling, which thereby raises the question, was it really lectin-free, or were there still trace amounts that weren’t able to be detected with the testing?

This raises the question about what really is lectin-free? Is lectin-free just low enough that it can’t be detected, or does it actually mean that there are literally no lectins in the food?

If you’re eating a lectin-free diet, some people have wondered whether this is even possible because of the claim that all plants contain lectins.

It is just a matter of how much and which ones an individual person can handle best? Which grains your body might tolerate best is another topic of interest, which could come down to a number of things.

The first one being your ancestral history and how much your ancestors ate those foods because your body might be more tolerant of those foods.

For example, someone who has a long ancestry where the culture frequently ate beans and peas might be more likely to tolerate be peas and beans, whereas another person whose ancestry was more likely to drink milk, might be more likely to handle milk and cheese or other dairy products.

That being said, there are also questions about how foods have been changed throughout the years or which foods are accessible.

And so maybe many of the foods that we are eating now are different than foods that our ancestors ate, which may mean that our bodies would generally be less tolerable to them.

For example, with genetic mutations in those foods or just the variety of different strains that are available. For example, in the instance of grains, it’s been said that there used to be many, many strains of gluten-containing wheat, whereas primarily now there is just one strain of wheat.

And so having this different variety may have contributed positively, whereas that lack of variety now may be less ideal.

Should you eat grains on a lectin free diet or a low lectin diet?

Ultimately, whether or not you eat grains and how much you eat of them is going depend on you and your individual situation.

Many people advocate eating grains as a healthy part of diet, whereas others say that you should opt for other foods such as sweet potatoes or rice.

We’ve talked about rice previously in the article, and there are people that would say that you should eat brown rice over white rice or that you should eat sprouted rice over brown rice.

However, eating even eating any of these choices may still contain some amount of lectins. Sweet potatoes are, of course, a great choice, which are not technically grains but are frequently used as an alternative.

Of course, you could also have a bit of millet, which was shown to be low in lectins or perhaps opt for one of the lower lectin choices of rice, such as white rice or sprouted rice.

There may be other choices that are great for you. And sprouting any type of grains may prove to have beneficial effects on the quantity of lectins or even just soaking them.

Of course, cooking those grains will reduce the lectin count. However, the question really is how much is that lectin count reduced, and is it enough, or are there still trace amounts which could work against a person?

Improving tolerance of grains

It’s been stated that strengthening the integrity of the gut can improve tolerance of foods, including those containing lectins such as grains.

Thereby, you may consider taking supplements such as collagen powder, and L-Glutamine, such as in Gut Reg in order to help improve that gut integrity.

Hopefully, this article has been helpful for you and powerful for you.

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1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8618113/

2. http://medicinalplants-kr.org/

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