You may have heard of gluten — and the dietary problems it causes — but have you heard of lectin? Known as an “antinutrient,” lectin is a type of plant-based protein commonly found in seeds, grains, legumes, and tubers, like potatoes. As an antinutrient, lectins may prevent your body from absorbing essential vitamins and minerals — but that’s not all.
Research indicates that lectins may put certain people at risk for systemic inflammation, digestion problems, increased fat storage, and even autoimmune conditions, such as celiac disease and Crohn’s disease.[1, 2, 3]
Although extensive research exists on the harmful effects of lectins, the jury is still out. Some experts say concerns about lectins are
overstated since we cook many lectin-containing foods.
So what’s the verdict? Are lectins bad for you? Let’s dig into the research.
What Are Lectins?
Lectins are a broad class of protein found abundantly in plants. Lectins protect plants against microorganisms, insect pests, and animals that may eat them.
To the scientifically minded, they are “glycoproteins that bind carbohydrates and agglutinate cells.” Agglutinate means to clump; known as “sticky proteins,” lectins cause cells — including red blood cells, gut mucosal cells, and even probiotic bacteria