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Legumes and Grains-Healthy Beans are Deadly for Some

Updated on December 18, 2012

Written by Angela LaMor RMA NCPT and Frances Bleuet owner of Nutrition for Weight Loss


Legumes and grains are a part of every great diet. Whether your preference is low calorie, low fat, anti-cancer, budget meals or vegetarian, legume and grain combo’s are a wise choice.

Legumes are plants with pods. They include beans, lentils, carob, alfalfa, peas, peanuts and soy products. All of these foods are incomplete proteins except for soy and soy products which are complete. When combined with grains, legumes become complete protein foods and are considered adequate substitutes for meat.

Legumes cannot be eaten raw. The first reason is that they are too hard. The second reason is that they contain poisons that are inactivated by heat. Beans are actually poisonous until cooked, but there is a benefit to them being hard when raw and that is that pesticides that are routinely sprayed on all of our crops cannot penetrate the hard pods that legumes naturally have. Therefore if you thoroughly wash your peas, beans and nuts prior to cooking there will be absolutely no trace of pesticides left in the foods. Compare this to green beans or corn where you can soak them and scrub the outside of them and still have pesticides and other chemicals that actually grow into the vegetable as they grow and these chemicals are hard or impossible to wash out.

Lentils contain fiber, folic acid (B9) potassium, magnesium, iron and protein.

Soybeans have twice as much protein as other legumes.


Fava beans (also known as broad beans) can cause symptoms such as, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, fever, anemia (and even death) in those with an inherited disorder of metabolism. Those of Mediterranean descent can lack an enzyme needed to inactivate a toxin naturally present in broad beans that causes the destruction of red blood cells. This disease is known as favism.


Grains include wheat, corn, oat, barley, buckwheat (technically a fruit used as a grain) rye (the refined version of pumpernickel) and rice. They contain fiber, the B complex vitamins, magnesium, zinc, iron, bran, low fat, and have no cholesterol. Corn is the only grain that contains adequate amounts of vitamins A and C.

Grains can be whole such as whole wheat or refined such as white bread or white rice. Refined grains are grains in which the germ (such as wheat germ) and bran have been removed. Manufacturers like to do this to extend the shelf life of their products. So many nutrients are removed that even moths and mold don’t want to eat it, so it lasts longer.

All grains are incomplete protein foods except for wheat germ which is a complete protein food. Wheat germ not only contains complete protein but is also loaded with other nutrients such as vitamin E, the B complex, zinc, and a healing factor known as the “anti-stress factor” first discovered in 1951. This factor is contributed with kick starting the healing process of the body when the body is otherwise unresponsive.

There is a lot of controversy over the value of the new “whole grain” white. Whole grain white breads are made from a highly processed albino wheat grain (as opposed to red wheat) and most of these products are only about one third whole grain and two thirds refined wheat flour (white). Whole grain white actually falls between white bread and whole wheat in terms of nutritional value.

Both legumes and grains naturally contain compounds called phytates that bind with minerals (especially iron and zinc) making them less usable to the body, but these compounds are significantly broken down by the cooking process.

Overall legumes and grains are inexpensive, versatile and a healthy combination.

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