Nutrition Nugget: What Foods Contain Lectins

And What to Do About It

By Nancy Mehlert, MS


If you are reading this without first reading our main article, you may want to back up and read it to benefit from the more in depth introduction to lectins

Now, for anyone struggling to lose weight, dealing with autoimmunity or digestive issues, or simply frustrated with a stubborn health problem, then it is worth considering that lectins may be holding back your journey to better health.

Lectins are found in a wide variety of foods making it impossible to eat a lectin free diet. Not all lectins are bad (see Tip #5 below), however there are many lectins that are quite harmful, and there are some foods that contain high levels. It is important to think about the cumulative impact since you may be eating a combination of high lectin foods that result in considerable toxicity.

Foods with the Highest Lectin Content – Best Avoided

Corn – One of the very highest in lectin foods, corn lectins are also very resistant to heat and, therefore, are difficult to reduce through cooking.  Pervasive in the American food supply, corn is also genetically modified (unless organic) and one of the highest allergenic foods.

Corn-fed Meats: This includes most meats sold in grocery stores and restaurants. We are what we eat, and this applies to animals, too.  They are raised on corn and soy, two foods that are high in lectins. The purpose is to make them fat for market.  Lectins make us  humans fat, too.  The best way to avoid them is to buy certified grassfed meat. The American Grassfed Association is a good place to learn more. Look for “100% Grass Fed and Finished” on the label.

Casein A1 Milk[1]: Because of a genetic mutation in cow populations, some cows produce milk containing casein A1 protein, which is a lectin-like protein called beta-casomorphin. It attaches to the pancreas’ insulin-producing cells, prompting an immune attack on the pancreas of those who consume milk and cheeses from these cows.  Most cows today are casein A1 producers, and this is the milk and cheese found in store-bought dairy. Many who believe they are lactose intolerant are responding to the casein A1 in the milk. If you are going to consume dairy, opt for only casein A2 dairy products which come from goat, sheep, water buffaloes or specifically Belgian Blues, Guernsey, or Brown Swiss cow breeds. Holsteins are the most common breed and their milk is casein A1. Jersey cows may produce either, so checking the source and verifying is critical.

Peanuts and Cashews: Commonly called nuts, peanuts and cashews are legumes and both are very high in lectin content. The shell around the cashew is such an irritant that cashew workers must wear protective gloves to harvest them.  Cashews are in the same botanical family as poison ivy and dramatically increase inflammation[2].

Unfermented Soybean Products: Examples include tofu and edamame, the green soybean where lectins are highest and best avoided.  Traditionally fermented soy products such as miso or tempeh, if organic, have a much lower lectin content due to the fermentation.


High Lectin Foods to Eat Sparingly and Prepare Properly

Legumes: This pulse family includes any plant seed that is found in pods, such as peas, green beans, lentils, split peas, and all other beans (e.g. red kidney, black, white, garbanzo). Proper soaking and cooking, as well as choosing some of the lower lectin options like Great Northern beans, green beans and lentils, can make these a reasonable option when used sparingly. Most canned beans have not been soaked or cooked properly to reduce lectins. White kidney beans and soybeans are highest in lectins.

Grains: Just when we thought whole grains were best for us, we are learning that the lectins are highest in the outer sheath. Most earlier cultures seemed to understand that removing it made digestion easier. Traditionally, the Chinese, Japanese, and other Asian people have not been plagued with obesity, heart disease, and diabetes, yet they have been eating rice for thousands of years, always stripping away the hull where the lectins exist[3].  WGA or gliadin attached to gluten in wheat, oats, rye and barley are two other damaging grain lectins. Is it any surprise that many traditional European breads are made using the process of fermentation to make sourdough bread? The process of fermentation deactivates lectins. This traditional process is not used in bread manufacturing by the food industry.  There are many other health concerns when it comes to grains, such as pesticides and genetic modification.  Careful selection, preparation, and minimal consumption, however, make some grains a viable choice from time to time.

Nightshade Fruits and Vegetables: Included are tomatoes, potatoes (excluding sweet potatoes), eggplants, bell peppers, and goji berries among others. The highest lectin content is found in the skins and seeds, so simply peeling and deseeding can significantly reduce the lectin content, as well as reducing frequency and portion. Potato lectins are quite resistant to cooking and will only reduce by 50-60%.

Gourd Family Fruits: Normally called vegetables, the gourd family are fruits and include all squash varieties, pumpkin and zucchini. As with nightshades, some of these can be peeled and deseeded well and cooking will also help reduce lectins.


Preparation and Cooking Tips to Reduce Lectin Content

Research demonstrates that sprouting, fermenting, soaking overnight and cooking high lectin foods does dramatically reduce the lectin content, making them safe for most people. In addition to removing seeds and peel, here are some other tips to help reduce lectins.

Tip #1 – If you choose to eat beans, be sure to prepare and cook them properly, and NEVER eat raw or undercooked. They can have acute and toxic effects[4]. Be sure to soak beans in water for at least 12 hours before cooking, changing the water frequently. Rinse the beans well, discarding the water used for soaking. Cook for at least 15 minutes on HIGH heat, ideally using a pressure cooker like the InstaPot™.

Tip #2 – If consuming grains, keep in mind that the only way to make bread safe is to buy organic AND raise the bread using traditional methods of yeast or sourdough, which breaks down the gluten and other harmful lectins.  You would be hard pressed to find this in our grocery stores. You will need to make it yourself or purchase it from a traditional artisan bakery.

Tip #3 – Many beans, seeds and grains can be sprouted to deactivate lectins. There are some exceptions, such as alfalfa, where sprouting increases lectins. We recommend the cookbook, Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon for all forms of traditional food preparation including sprouting, fermentation, and cooking methods that reduce harmful lectins.

Tip #4 – Consider investing in a pressure cooker.  Plant lectins are most effectively neutralized when cooked under pressure relatively quickly. This method is ideal for beans, legumes, quinoa and rice, for example.  Avoid slow cookers for plant foods, as they will increase lectin content because of the low temperature used.

Tip #5 -There are some safe lectins in many foods. The lowest lectin content options are asparagus, garlic, celery, mushrooms and onions. Cooked root vegetables like sweet potatoes, yucca and taro, along with leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, avocados, olives and olive oil are all examples of healthy foods that do contain some lectins.  They can be eaten without restrictions.

Remember, while lectins can wreak havoc on health, it is not possible nor ideal to eliminate them from your diet.  The key is to identify the worst culprits, cut those out, and make sure you are preparing food in ways that minimize or reduce lectin content.  How strict you need to be will be determined by your health status, genetics and willingness to explore the possibility that lectins are standing in your way of better health.



[1] Gundry, Steven R., The Plant Paradox, (New York: HarperCollins, 2017), pg.32

[2] Gundry, Steven R., The Plant Paradox, (New York: HarperCollins, 2017), pg.209-210

[3] Gundry, Steven R., The Plant Paradox, (New York: HarperCollins, 2017), pg.45


By | 2018-06-11T09:08:47+00:00 May 30th, 2018|Articles, General, NANCY’S NUTRITIONAL NUGGET|

Nutrition Nugget: Manitoba Harvest Hemp Heart Bites

Check It Out – Portable packaging, Dessert Cookie, Breakfast or Lunchbox treat…..

Every once in a while, I see some really great new products that I know our readers will want.  Here is one you need to check out:

Manitoba Harvest Hemp Heart Bites come in a larger bag or individual snack bags. I found them at HEB in the Healthy Living section next to the chia, hemp and dried berries shelf and they are also available on line at and Do you remember Pecan Sandies? That is what these remind me of in texture and enjoyment but thankfully they are chock full of good nutrition. My favorite flavor is the Cinnamon and they work great with my morning tea as a breakfast. They come in chocolate and original too.  For 230 calories in the bag and 15 grams of healthy fat, 15 grams of carbohydrate, 3 of which are fiber and the modest but helpful 10 grams of protein, it makes for a well-rounded food to enjoy. They do contain sugar so those with allergies or trying to reduce sugar or lose weight, you may simply want to enjoy a smaller portion such as 2-4 of the cookie bites rather than the serving size, which is 10 pieces. That makes them great for everyone.

By | 2018-04-16T09:39:00+00:00 April 16th, 2018|General, NANCY’S NUTRITIONAL NUGGET|

Nutrition Nugget: Julian Bakery Pegan Seed Protein Powder

Check It Out – A Stevia Free, Smooth, Clean Vegan Protein Powder…

Every once in a while, I see some really great new products that I know our readers will want. Here is one you need to check out:

Julian Bakery Pegan (Vegan + Paleo) Seed Protein Powder– Two of the biggest and most frequent complaints I get about protein powders is the overpowering bitter taste of Stevia and/or the gritty bad taste and texture of the protein. Problems solved! This protein powder mixes up silky smooth and is sweetened with Luo Han Guo (aka. Monk Fruit), which has no aftertaste, just a nice degree of sweetness to it. The Vanilla Cinnamon is a pure pumpkin seed protein. The Double Chocolate is a Sacha Inchi seed protein. Both are easily digested. Triple Chocolate, Vanilla Cinnamon Twist or Unflavored. Available online, directly from, or

Eat Well, Be Well






By | 2018-03-25T11:45:14+00:00 March 16th, 2018|General, NANCY’S NUTRITIONAL NUGGET|

Nutrition Nugget: Sir Kensington’s Fabanaise

Another NEW Product!

Every once in a while, I see some really great new products that I know our readers will want. Here is one you need to check out:

Sir Kensington’s Fabanaise – This company is making clean condiments including mayonnaise, ketchup and mustard. They use clean oils and are non-GMO project verified. They specialize in a wide variety of mayonnaise flavors including sriracha and chipotle. The Fabanaise is a soy free, egg-free vegan mayonnaise and it tastes great! Look for it in a refrigerated section in Whole Foods, Kroger and Sprouts, usually close to produce or dairy. The regular mayonnaise, mustard, and ketchup are on the condiment aisle, non-refrigerated. Most Sir Kensington products are also available online!

By | 2018-02-24T11:08:00+00:00 February 18th, 2018|General, NANCY’S NUTRITIONAL NUGGET|

Hilary’s Salad Dressings

Hilary’s Salad Dressings

Clean Product with No Eggs, No Gluten and No Stevia!

Hilary’s Salad Dressings – distributed by DrinkEatWell out of Lawrence, Kansas, these dressings pride themselves on no artificial ingredients, USDA Organic and Allergy Friendly. They are egg free, soy free, dairy free, corn free, and gluten free.  I have tried at least four of the many flavors and found them to be delicious. So far, my favorites are the Apple Fennel and the Chili Lime Vinaigrette. The Ranch was a pleasant surprise too!  They are available in some Kroger stores and online with,,

By | 2018-01-17T14:29:13+00:00 January 17th, 2018|General, NANCY’S NUTRITIONAL NUGGET|

The One Next Thing

by Nancy Mehlert, MS
Edited by Mila McManus MD

Taking specific single steps toward changing eating habits.

One of the best New Year’s Resolutions I’ve ever made to myself was to quit trying to change everything about my diet all at once.  I was miserably failing at it.  Instead I decided to start taking small, single steps at a time.  I also emotionally accepted this lifestyle would take years to cultivate, and settled into the idea that it is a long journey and would be well worth it.  I began to liken it to getting a college degree.

Week by week working through one class.  Class by class, working through a semester, then a year, then two and so on.

I continue to stay on the journey by focusing on The One Next Thing.   My target every day is to choose clean, nourishing foods 85-95% of the time, and indulging infrequently; only 15-5% of the time.  I look forward and identify opportunities both to indulge as well as conscious decisions not to.  If I choose to do so, I also choose not to feel guilty about it.

The outcome of improved health, reduced body pain, better mental focus, stabilized weight, and increased energy, provides the mental, emotional and physical stamina to live out the challenges and joys of life with family, co-workers and friends.  Having good health has allowed me to redirect my mind away from irritating health problems and towards other things.

Give it a try this year.  Here are examples of how this happened for me as I focused on The One Next Thing

  • One New Year, I simply determined that I would never go to a fast food burger joint ever again. I haven’t. Instead, I developed the habit of finding better quick places to stop for food, including grocery stores, and I also practiced and learned to prepare ahead so that I would not get caught away from home, hungry.
  • Five years ago, I determined that Hellman’s Mayonnaise had too many terrible ingredients. While I was raised on Hellman’s, and it carried with it family tradition and memories, I made myself try other mayonnaises with healthier oils and ingredients. I found one just like Hellman’s that I love!  It’s so good, I wondered why I had not made this simple change sooner.
  • Over the last 5 years, I have added hemp seed, kale, cooked spinach, winter squash, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and Brazil nuts to my diet. Initially, these foods were questionable in their appeal, but now, they are some of my favorites.  I did this by choosing 1 food to focus on, putting it on my “to do” list (Yes! I wrote down “Learn to like cooked spinach this week”) and added it to my grocery list, practicing until I found a way to prepare it, include it and like it. It took me about 90 days to accomplish one food.   7 new foods, 5 years. Seriously, you can do this too!
  • Last year, I resolved to remove as much food storage plastics as I could. I have practiced not buying bottled water, found containers for my tea and water that I can carry with me, and converted my lunch box and food storage containers to stainless steel and glass.  As a result, I have reduced the toxic load on my body.
  • Finally, I’ve always been a Starbucks junky. For years, I have gone to Starbucks at least once a day and often twice.  Ten years ago, I gave up my beloved Mocha Frappuccino’s and Hot Mochas in exchange for hot or cold tea.  That took some adjustment.  Learning that tea and coffee are very high-in-pesticides plants, I knew this daily cup or two of joy was toxic. In truth, most of my addiction was the feel of the double paper cups and the warmth emanating from them, much more than the tea inside!  This year, I searched for tea containers that offered the same manual comfort and warmth (I know this sounds like a personal problem, right?) and found organic teas, at the grocery store and online, that are satisfying and affordable.  My Starbucks addiction has finally ended.

My New Year’s wish for you is that this time next year, you will reflect upon 2018 and be pleased by your accomplishments toward a healthier nutrition lifestyle.  Remember, you have a resource for nutrition encouragement, accountability and direction readily available, me. It would be my honor to serve you in the New Year as you journey ahead on the road to greater health.  What’s your One Next Thing?






By | 2018-01-06T14:02:17+00:00 January 5th, 2018|General, NANCY’S NUTRITIONAL NUGGET|

The Health Benefits of Pumpkins

 By Nancy Mehlert, MS

Wait!  Before you say you don’t like pumpkin, consider trying it again. Here’s why:                                                                                          

The fruit of these large, vining plants, so associated with harvest, belong to the Cucurbitaceae, or cucumber family. The two main types are “pepo,” dubbed “small” pumpkins and are often carved into Jack-o-lanterns, and “maxima,” the giant variety grown to enter the “biggest pumpkin” contest at the county fair.

Pumpkin patch

Pumpkins are wonderful when it comes to vitamins and minerals, including large amounts of fiber and 100% of the daily vitamin A requirement. Pumpkins also provide plentiful amounts of vitamin C, riboflavin, potassium, copper, and manganese. Smaller but significant amounts of vitamin E (alpha tocopherol), thiamin, niacin, vitamin B6, folate, iron, magnesium, and phosphorus also are present.

What does that mean for us? The bright orange hints at the presence of a particularly beneficial phytonutrient: carotene. This converts to vitamin A in the body for a tremendous punch of antioxidants with the capacity to help prevent heart disease, cancer, and many of the degenerating signs of aging. Vitamin A is also a must for good vision and helping to prevent lung and mouth cancers. Flavonoids such as cryptoxanthin, lutein, and zeaxanthin destroy harmful free radicals, and the latter, especially, helps protect the retina of the eye from macular degeneration.

Pumpkin seeds are not only a tasty, easy-to-transport snack, you could also say they’re a concentrated source of minerals and vitamins. Two cups contain 30 grams of protein, 110% of the daily recommended allowance for iron, and 559 calories. The fiber helps maintain regular elimination to keep the colon clear. Two cups may sound like a lot and we are not suggesting you eat it all in one sitting, but rather over the course of a week, 8 – ¼ cup servings adds a great deal of nutrition to snacking, salads, sweet potato and butternut squash, just to name a few uses.  A special bonus in pumpkin seeds is the amino acid tryptophan, which, once in the brain, converts into serotonin – a neurotransmitter which relaxes the body, calms the nerves, and improves sleep.

Suggestions: Stir canned organic pumpkin into a Paleo porridge such as Pure Traditions Instant Hot Cereal ( Blend pumpkin puree with cooked acorn squash, carrot, sweet potato or butternut squash and blend with chicken bone broth and spices for a creamy, winter soup. Pureed pumpkin blended with unsweetened applesauce makes a great baby food or seniors food where chewing is an issue.  Also a great comfort food for everyone to replace puddings. Perform an internet search for a keto pumpkin pie and you will find plenty of low sugar, healthy pumpkin pie options for the holidays.



By | 2017-10-30T10:08:30+00:00 October 30th, 2017|General, NANCY’S NUTRITIONAL NUGGET|

3 Quick Kitchen Tips

Kitchen Tips


  1. 1. If you run a stainless steel skewer through the middle of a sweet potato before putting it in the oven, it will cook faster. The metal absorbs the heat and helps to cook the potato from the inside out. Doing this reduces baking time by up to 50%!


  1. 2. One way to make cabbage and kale more palatable, raw or cooked, is to break it down by massaging it with your hands.  After you wash it, put shredded cabbage or torn pieces of kale in a bowl. Lightly salt and add a little lemon or lime juice and then, after washing your hands well, knead and massage the vegetables for 2 minutes to soften them.  This will take away the leathery texture of kale and the severity of the coarseness of cabbage.  Then make your salad or cook the veggies.


  1. 3. Never put away left overs without portioning them into single servings.  You will always have food for the road, ready to pack and go.

By | 2017-10-03T20:47:55+00:00 October 3rd, 2017|General, NANCY’S NUTRITIONAL NUGGET|

The “Need to Know” about Coffee and Tea

By Nancy Mehlert, MScoffee and tea

Edited by Mila McManus MD

Over the last decade, there have been many meta-analyses and other studies supporting the benefits of, and possible links between, coffee and tea reducing risk for chronic diseases.  As recent as 2015, even the Dietary Guidelines for Americans added coffee and tea as a recommended beverage that could be safely consumed daily without detrimental effects. That came from research pointing to both coffee and tea as demonstrating anti-cancer effects, as well as protective qualities for the heart, brain, and liver.   Research also has shown an association with lower risk for many other diseases such as Type 2 Diabetes, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and overall mortality.

At the 230th national meeting of the American Chemical Society, researchers stated findings that suggest Americans get more antioxidants from drinking coffee than from any other dietary source and emphasized that “nothing else even comes close”. ¹ Well I guess that just proves two things – lots of us enjoy our coffee and tea, and perhaps many of us are not eating enough fruits and vegetables.  That said, if you truly want the health benefits associated with drinking coffee and tea, and it is a daily practice for you, then here are some things you need to know to reap the benefits:

  • Quality is essential! Both should be organic. Coffee is one of the most heavily pesticided crops in the world. It would also help if you seek sustainably shade-grown coffee to protect tropical rain forests and bird habitats. The green tea plant roots are especially receptive to absorbing lead, fluoride, and other toxins in the soil, so it’s important that tea be grown away from excessive industrial pollution (like China where 90% of the world’s green tea is produced!). Instead, it should be grown in a pristine environment, preferably using an organic, sustainable method.  Whole leaf Matcha green tea is recommended to be obtained from Japan rather than China.
  • Buy whole bean coffee. Coffee, once ground, becomes rancid very, very rapidly. Thus, the vast majority of the coffee for sale in the marketplace that is already ground is rancid.  You will get the caffeine, but none of the other health benefits of the coffee. Coffee should have a pleasant aroma.  If not, it is likely rancid. Buy whole bean and grind it as you use it.
  • Look for dark roast to get the health benefits. The darker the pigment the greater the health benefits. Look for French Roast, espresso or Turkish coffee for maximum benefit.
  • Check out your filters. If you use paper filters, be sure they are non-bleached papers. Pure white filters have been chlorine bleached and usually also contain disinfection by-products such as dioxin. This makes your daily cup of joe a very counterproductive toxic drink!
  • Skip the milk and sugar! One of the benefits of coffee and tea come from a group of compounds called There is good evidence that dairy creamers interfere with the absorption of these compounds in the body. Also, sugar will contribute to insulin resistance which is at the heart of most chronic disease.  Check out . Our office tried the Mocha and the Pumpkin Spice and all agreed it was latte style as good as your favorite coffee shop. If a sweetener is needed then stick with a natural option such as stevia, erythritol, xylitol or lo han/monkfruit.
  • One caution: While it does appear that coffee and tea in moderation can be beneficial, there can be adverse effects, especially if you are consuming excessive quantities. If you are already generally healthy, consuming moderate amounts are fine and even good for your health.  If you are chronically fatigued, have anxiety or high blood pressure, caffeine can negatively impact hormone balance, neurotransmitter function and nerve signaling, and, therefore, it would be best to limit or avoid the caffeine associated with coffee and tea.


¹Eurek Alert August 28, 2014

By | 2017-08-26T09:31:50+00:00 August 26th, 2017|Articles, General, NANCY’S NUTRITIONAL NUGGET|

Dietary Adjustments for Pain Relief

By Nancy Mehlert MSnatural pain killers

Edited by Mila McManus MD

It’s very common that headaches, joint and muscle pain can be caused from the foods we are eating.  Therefore, it is well worth the effort to practice some food elimination tests to find out if you are reacting to foods.  Usually the pain response is reflective of inflammation and/or a food allergy. When we trigger elevated insulin levels from the foods we eat, we are also stimulating inflammatory prostaglandin production, leading to inflammation and pain.

Here are the key adjustments to make in your diet if you want to relieve chronic pain as well as provide the healthiest environment for wellness:

What to eliminate or dramatically reduce:

  • Sugar, in all forms. Sources include fructose from fruit, honey, maple syrup, agave nectar, coconut sugar, corn syrup, dextrose and maltodextrin. Check out any ingredient list such as food bars, protein powders, every bottled or canned beverage, portions of fruit, condiments such as BBQ sauces, salad dressings and ketchup, wine, alcoholic beverages and even uncured meats. Look closely, as you may be surprised at what you find. And think in terms of cumulative amount and effect. Sugar is sneaky.
  • Grains, and most commonly wheat and other gluten/gliadin containing grain,s as well rice and corn are fast digesting carbohydrates which convert mostly to glucose, thus elevating blood sugar and insulin levels which stimulate inflammatory pathways. Hence, pain.
  • Processed foods – sugar, grains, chemicals, damaged fats are all inflammatory contributors to pain and bad for us in a myriad of ways. Migrate to, and stick with, a whole food diet.

What to Eat

  • Be sure to eat plenty of Omega 3 fatty acids including Pacific wild salmon, anchovies, and sardines as well as fresh ground flax, hemp seed, chia seed, and grass fed butter or ghee. There is also an oil found in fish and dairy butter (grass fed butter or ghee is optimal) called CMO, which stands for Cetyl Myristoleate.  It acts as a “joint lubricant” and has anti-inflammatory effects as well.
  • Include fresh herbs and spices. Curcumin/turmeric, ginger and many peppers have anti-inflammatory effects.
  • Include plenty of fresh vegetables
  • Consider collagen sources in bone broth, protein powders and as supplements which can support joint and gut health to reduce inflammation and pain. We carry protein powders in vanilla and chocolate flavors with beef collagen in them and can also recommend how to make or buy high quality bone broth.


By | 2017-08-05T13:24:13+00:00 August 5th, 2017|Articles, General, NANCY’S NUTRITIONAL NUGGET|