Legumes and Nightshades | The Paleo Diet®
noun_Search_345985 Created with Sketch.

Try The Paleo Diet®!

Learn more. Get recipes & meal plans. See the science.

Legumes and Nightshades

Both legumes and nightshades contain high concentrations of various anti-nutrients that increase intestinal permeability and can, therefore, cause a myriad of health concerns.

Expand For More

The USDA My Plate guidelines recommend:

“Dry beans and peas are the mature forms of legumes such as kidney beans, pinto beans, black-eyed peas, and lentils. These foods are excellent sources of plant protein, and also provide other nutrients such as iron and zinc. They are similar to meats, poultry, and fish in their contribution of these nutrients. Many people consider dry beans and peas as vegetarian alternatives for meat.”

It is extremely misleading to evaluate the nutritional and health effects of beans and other legumes by simply comparing a few of their nutrients to other foods, as the USDA has done.

Before making such a claim, it is essential to determine how a food acts within humans. Beans are not good sources of either zinc or iron. In fact, these foods (even when fully cooked) are nutritional lightweights as a source of protein when compared to meat, fish, and other animal foods.

So, let’s take a closer look at how dry beans and peas compare to meats, poultry, fish, and eggs in terms of protein, iron, and zinc. On a caloric level, legumes contain far less protein than lean poultry, beef, pork, and seafood. Beans, peas, and other legumes contain 66 percent less protein than either lean chicken or turkey, and 61 percent less protein than lean beef, pork, and seafood.

The USDA also doesn’t tell you that our bodies don’t process bean and legume proteins nearly as efficiently as animal proteins. Legumes are chock full of anti-nutrients that impair the body’s ability to absorb and assimilate potential beneficial nutrients.

Without long term cooking or pressure-cooking, the anti-nutrients in legumes remain active and may disrupt gastrointestinal and immune function. As recently as 24 years ago imports of red kidney beans into South Africa were legally prohibited because of “their potential toxicity to humans.”

Nightshades are another recently introduced food group, from an evolutionary perspective. These include potatoes, tomatoes, green peppers, chili peppers, eggplants, and tomatillos. Nightshades have been consistently shown to increase intestinal permeability.

That said, we often make an exception for tomatoes. Because ripe red tomatoes have such low concentrations of α-tomatine, and because they are rich sources of vitamins, minerals, and other healthful nutrients, only people with an autoimmune disease or allergies should consider limiting their fresh ripe tomato intake.

In the U.S. we consume almost 230 pounds of nightshades per person on a yearly basis. These common foods have become such staples in our diets that few people rarely, if ever, consider that they are very recent additions to worldwide human nutrition.

On The Paleo Diet, we advise eliminating white/yellow potato consumption, and for autoimmune and allergy patients, we recommend caution when it comes to tomatoes, chili peppers, and eggplants.

noun_chevron up_1746113 Created with Sketch.
Can Peanuts Be Part of A Paleo Diet?

Peanuts aren't actually nuts, they are a type of legume - and therefore, are not permitted on The Paleo Diet.

By Dr. Marc Bubbs
Soy, Sugar's Cohort in Causing Obesity

If America is serious about reversing degenerative diseases, soy must share the spotlight with sugar as one of the villains behind our obesity pandemic.

By Christopher Clark
Alfalfa Sprouts & Autoimmune Disease

Although the link between autoimmunity and legumes is poorly documented in humans, at least one legume, alfalfa, is known to cause an autoimmune disease.

By Loren Cordain, Ph.D.
Beans and Legumes: Are they Paleo?
Beans and legumes have been promoted by the USDA as nutritional equivalents to animal proteins. This, however, is misguided. Beans and legumes contain many antinutrients that can cause many health problems.
By Loren Cordain, Ph.D.
Are Nightshades Paleo? And How to Tell If You Have a Sensitivity
Nightshade vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, and potatoes contain specific compounds that can cause irritation in your gut. If you know what symptoms to look for and how to prepare nightshades before consuming, however, you may stay in the clear.
By Megan Patiry
Q&A: Are Sprouted Legumes Paleo?

Are sprouted legumes considered Paleo? What about sprouted grains? Are they healthier if you're an athlete?

By Maelán Fontes, M.S.
Q&A: The Sprouted Grain Conundrum

Are grains included in the paleo diet? Read our article to learn more. The Paleo Diet® offers the latest in paleo diet news, paleo diet recipes & more.

By Loren Cordain, Ph.D.
Q&A: Is Mesquite Bean Flour Arguably Paleo?

Mesquite is a different subfamily of the "legumes", and the food part derived from mesquite is not the seed, but rather the pulpy part of the pod wall.

By Loren Cordain, Ph.D.
Q&A: No Legumes on The Paleo Diet?

Can you eat legumes on the paleo diet? Learn more in this article. The Paleo Diet® offers the latest paleo meal plans, paleo diet recipes & paleo news.

By The Paleo Diet® Team
Podcast: Is Bread the Staff of Life?: Eliminating Grains and Legumes

Read the transcript of the Paleo Diet podcast where Dr Cordain talks about how to eliminate grains & legumes from your diet.

By The Paleo Diet® Team
Paleo Leadership
 
Trevor Connor
Trevor Connor

Dr. Loren Cordain’s final graduate student, Trevor Connor, M.S., brings more than a decade of nutrition and physiology expertise to spearhead the new Paleo Diet team.

Mark J Smith
Dr. Mark J. Smith

One of the original members of the Paleo movement, Mark J. Smith, Ph.D., has spent nearly 30 years advocating for the benefits of Paleo nutrition.

Nell Stephenson
Nell Stephenson

Ironman athlete, mom, author, and nutrition blogger Nell Stephenson has been an influential member of the Paleo movement for over a decade.

Loren Cordain
Dr. Loren Cordain

As a professor at Colorado State University, Dr. Loren Cordain developed The Paleo Diet® through decades of research and collaboration with fellow scientists around the world.