Antinutrients in legumes

What are legume antinutrients?

Substances that produce indigestion in poorly prepared legumes

Undercooked legumes retain antinutrients and are very indigestible because our digestive enzymes cannot act. Therefore, nutrients arrive without  being digested to the intestine. The presence of undigested carbohydrates and proteins in the intestine produces many smelly gases and feces.

Antinutrients are substances that prevent the assimilation of nutrients and, therefore, decrease the digestibility of the proteins, carbohydrates, minerals and / or vitamins that these foods contain.

The topic of legume antinutrients is very studied because these are one of the richest seeds in different types of antinutrients.

Are legumes unhealthy because antinutrients?

Legumes in a market
Legumes are foods with many antinutrients. It is one of the reasons why they should be soaked (in addition to being hydrated) and long cooking is recommended.

All dietitians agree that legumes are one of the healthiest grains in the diet, due to their high protein, vitamin and mineral intake. But these foods also contain antinutritive substances that must be eliminated by proper preparation.

Why do legumes produce antinutrients?

Antinutrients are components that plants produce in their seeds to ensure the survival of the species. These are substances whose objective is to prevent seeds from being digested by animals. Thus, when consumed, they could not be broken and excreted, so that they would retain their structure and have the chance to survive and germinate.

Cooking eliminates antinutrients

Fortunately, most legume antinutrients disappear after soaking and cooking. For this reason, we can digest them and obtain the numerous nutrients that these foods have.

Legume antinutrient content

dried bean red beans
Beans are the richest legumes in antinutrients

We are accustomed to the fact that the nutritional composition of legumes is similar between one species and another, to the point where it can be generalized about the benefits of legumes, in general, all of them forming a food group. The same does not happen with antinutrients. Each type of legume has different characteristics and should not be generalized.

Therefore, before mentioning the list of legume antinutrients, it is necessary to clarify that not all legumes contain many antinutrients.

What are the richest legumes in antinutrients?

  • Legumes with less antinutrients, and therefore, easier to digest, are chickpeas, lentils (especially red lentils, with almost no antinutrients) and peas.
  • Legumes with more antinutrients, the most indigestible (especially if they are cooked poorly), are dried beans (beans), varying their content according to the variety. Other quite indigestible are beans and soybeans.

* Related information:

Types of antinutrients in legumes

Toxicity of legume antinutrients

– When not to eat legumes?

punto rojo More information on antinutrients

This article was endorsed by Elisenda Carballido - Dietitian nutritionist. Postgraduate in Phytotherapy and master in Nutrition and Metabolism.
Written by Editorial Botanical-online team in charge of content writing

6 April, 2024

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