Legumes contraindications

When you should not eat legumes


Can legumes have contraindications?

Legumes are a group of diet foods that are very nutritious and energetic, because they contain a large amount of protein, and have a high intake of B vitamins (except B12) and minerals, including potassium, phosphorus , magnesium, calcium, iron and zinc.

The majority of the population tolerates the consumption of these edible seeds. However, although it is true that legumes are a very natural and beneficial food, there are certain cases in which legumes can present intolerances or contraindications.

What foods are legumes?

The following foods are included in the group of pulses:

Problems of indigestion when eating legumes

The main contraindication of legumes is that they can not be eaten raw or undercooked, as they produce digestive disorders related to excessive gas, flatulence, and even stomach pain and cramping. This is because legumes, when raw, are indigestible by nature.

No legume should be eaten raw, except those germinated. Raw legumes contain toxins that are eliminated after soaking them in abundant water and cooking. For example, the ingestion of cakes made with chickpea flour cooked in the oven without water is also responsible for cases of poisoning, known as neurolarythism. On the other hand, eating lupins when they are green (or their sheath) has produced adverse effects such as vomiting, nausea, belly pain, headache, and in some cases, weak pulse, convulsions and cardiorespiratory arrest.

How to avoid legumes indigestion?

To avoid this undesired effect, it is recommended to cook them correctly:

pea plant with fruit

Photo of pea plant with fruit (pod)

  • Soak to eliminate their antinutrients (saponins, protease inhibitors, amylase inhibitors, phytates, etc.). These substances produce bad digestions since they impede the complete digestion of the legumes, but they are eliminated with the soaking and the cooking.
  • Do not cook with many fats. There are many traditional recipes that cook legumes with abundant animal fats, such as sausages and other processed meats, excess salt, and sugary desserts. This combination leads to a much slower and more troublesome digestion.
  • Chew and salivate the legumes well . Chewing allows the digestive juices to penetrate better into the food and therefore it is easier to digest.For this last reason, it may be that people who eat legumes in the form of hummus have somewhat more bothersome digestion, because the fact of eating the legumes mashed implies that they are not properly salted.

problems with legumes

Problems with the digestion of legumes

What happens if I am gassy when eating legumes?

Although it is a widespread belief, legumes do not have to produce much flatulence, it is normal to tolerate them well. It is often the case that people who are not accustomed to eating legumes usually experience more gas when they begin to consume them daily or more frequently.

Therefore, the most possible cause of flatulence of legumes is that the body is not used to consuming them. In these cases, as more legumes are consumed, the intestinal flora adapts and no longer causes so much flatulence.

What happens if I have pain while eating legumes?

In case of frequent discomfort when eating legumes, it is recommended to consult a doctor, as there may be a pathology or intolerance to these foods.


Photo of legumes

Intolerance to legumes

Some people may have intolerance to legumes. Intolerance has the characteristic that manifests itself with digestive symptoms and that these symptoms can be more or less intense depending on the amount consumed.

Intolerance should not be confused with allergy to legume. In these case, although the legume is well cooked, it causes discomfort.

The adequate in these cases, if intolerance is suspected, is to try the legumes that are usually tolerated better, such as lentils, chickpeas and fresh peas (the ones with lower antinutrient content), well cooked, and observe if symptoms occur.

If they are presented systematically, it is recommended to consult a professional.

Favism is a common example of intolerance to legumes, very common among the population of the Mediterranean region, as a consequence of a genetic alteration that causes fava beans not to be tolerated.

Allergy to legumes

Some people may have an allergy to legumes. Unlike intolerance, allergy reactions can be cutaneous, digestive, respiratory, or affect other body systems. These reactions can be very strong, although the food is consumed in a small amount. For this reason, people with allergies to the legume should be very careful not to ingest them.

People with allergies to other grains should be careful because in factories where pulses are processed you can also manipulate other foods that cause allergy, being able to find traces of nuts or seeds in between the legumes.

Gluten from cereals allergy

Although legumes do not contain gluten, they may have been processed in factories that use cereals with gluten, such as oats or wheat. In case of allergy, it is recommended to consult the container for the “gluten-free” seal.

Other contraindications of legumes

Legumes are a very tasty and nutritious vegetable but are not suitable in certain situations:

  • Renal diseases: Due to its high content of potassium, legumes are a moderate food in case of renal failure, in which a diet low in potassium must be taken. However, if there is no control of potassium, there is no reason to prohibit these foods, since research indicates that vegetable protein is healthy for kidney disease because they have a better phosphate / protein ratio than many types of meat and fish ( more information).
  • Gout or high uric acid: The legumes should be consumed in smaller quantities in case of problems of hyperuricemia or gouty disease, due to the high purine content of these foods.

Can you eat legumes in case of diarrhea?

There are many doubts about whether it is appropriate to eat many legumes when there is diarrhea or gastroenteritis, situations in which a diet based on rice water, carrots, potatoes, apples, and other more digestive and demulcent foods is recommended.

However, there is no express contraindication to not consume vegetables, as this food does not produce or aggravate it, and can be very nutritious.

  • The general advice is to consume legumes if they are tolerated, but it is advisable to assess each case in a particular way, depending on the type and cause of the diarrhea.

The most tolerated legumes are chickpeas, tender peas, lentils and tofu.

Legumes for digestive diseases

Sometimes the consumption of this food is not recommended in people with certain intestinal diseases, such as Crohn’s disease, colitis and irritable bowel because of its high fiber content.

Some dietitians discourage them in these cases, just as when it is suspected that there may be a leaky intestine, due to the irritating effect of saponins and some antinutrients on the digestive tract. This restriction tends to be temporary until digestive health improves.

Other professionals follow an autoimmune protocol and advise consuming legumes with less antinutrients, such as chickpeas, lentils and tender peas.

People who follow a diet low in FODMAPs should eliminate the group of legumes. This type of diet has an effectiveness still to be determined, it is always recommended the advice of a dietitian nutritionist expert in the field.

main contraindications of legumesSummary of the main contraindications of legumes: when they are badly cooked or raw they are naturally indigestible. Contraindicated in case of some diseases, allergy and legume intolerance

Can legumes be given to babies?

Lentils and chickpeas are among the first legumes that are given to babies, but their introduction must be very slow and careful.

It is recommended to introduce very little amount of legumes and that these are previously soaked and very cooked.

Are legumes contraindicated in diabetes?

Legumes are a group of highly recommended foods for diabetes, in fact, they are better tolerated than a plate of rice, than potato or pasta. In addition to having slow-absorbing carbohydrates, they are very nutritious and beneficial for diabetes.

legumes for diabetes

Legumes for diabetes

Myths about legumes

When there is no express contraindication, there is no scientific or logical reason not to eat legumes in the diet, but quite the opposite. In addition to being very beneficial, for human health, eating legumes is very ecological because they are proteins that are obtained with less environmental impact than other sources, such as red meat.

Despite this, unfortunately, its consumption among the population is much lower than desired.

There are many false beliefs about legumes, such as, for example, that they can not be eaten daily, that they produce a lot of gas, or that they are bad for diabetes. For this reason, we have to insist on dispelling myths and explain any doubt that may reduce their consumption

* More information:

Why are legumes so flatulent?

Remedies for the flatulence of legumes

How to diminish flatulence in legumes

punto rojoMore information on legumes

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

28 September, 2023

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