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No Legumes On The Paleo Diet?

By The Paleo Diet Team
February 13, 2010
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I was just forwarded your peanut manifesto & found it interesting. I love the concept of the whole foods Paleo Diet, but no legumes? That goes against everything I have been taught about nutrition. I'm not veg, but eat a primarily whole foods/low animal protein diet. Exactly how would you get enough protein without meat & without legumes? Nuts alone cannot provide the protein & consumed in high quantities would add too much fat to one's diet. Between the protein, fiber & other nutrients, beans are so good for you. I understand the points about peanuts & don't disagree with that...too many peanut allergies out there not to mention the aflotoxin issue.

-Amy

Maelán Fontes' Response:

Dear Amy,

From an evolutionary perspective, legumes are not part of the human's diet. Prior to the agricultural revolution regular consumption of legumes was not common.

As cereal grains, legumes are great sources of antinutrients, such as lectins, saponins or protease inhibitors which wreak havoc the hormonal and immune systems.

Increased intestinal permeability has been associated to many chronic low-grade inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, such as celiac disease, rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 diabetes or multiple sclerosis. Lectins and saponins are able to increase intestinal permeability hence increasing the risk of inflammatory diseases, see Dr. Cordain's scientific papers found here.

Regarding the protein content, the paleo diet (based on high protein foods such as grass produced or free ranging meats, fish or even eggs) has been shown to be superior in protein than a grain-legume rich diet, as you could see in Dr. Cordain's paper here.

Regarding fiber, vegetables have the higher fiber content among all nutrients.

I hope this helps.
Maelán Fontes MS Ph.D. candidate in Medical Sciences at Lund University, Sweden

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