Colorful selection of pulses in paper bags
The Reason You Need To Be Properly Cooking Legumes
Legumes, a food category that includes lentils, beans, and peas, are versatile staples that are delicious and nutritious — but they also contain high amounts of "anti-nutrients."
These anti-nutrients, called lectins, are toxic and can cause immediate gastrointestinal symptoms when consumed, such as diarrhea, bloating, gas, and vomiting.
Eating high amounts of lectins may even be correlated to food poisoning. However, cooking legumes properly deactivates their lectins, since these compounds are water-soluble.
Lectins are typically found in the legumes' exterior, so rinsing and soaking is a crucial first step in deactivation. Then, the legumes must be boiled or stewed for several hours.
Not only does boiling remove the active lectins, but it also makes the legumes more palatable and easier to digest. However, not all legumes require extensive prep and cooking.
Green beans and snow peas are legumes that can be eaten raw or "fresh off the vine," though some sources recommend a flash-blanching or quick boiling before consuming.
Once the lectins are moved, legumes become nutritional powerhouses, packed with health benefits and effects such as reducing the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.