Why green beans and peas are safe for Paleo

Some folks might not realize that green beans and peas are both considered legumes-which are not typically allowed on the Paleo diet. Yes our lovely little green friends did in fact come from the family as they’re both pods! If you think about the popular saying “peas in a pod” or just the green bean itself, a long green pod with little seeds inside.

So what makes these two delicious staples an acceptable forgiveness on the Paleo diet food list?

Key points going for them is they’re both immature and eaten fresh (not dried). I don’ t mean immature like that annoying little kid down the street. I mean immature like they have not been fully grown on the pod, allowed to dry on the vine and dried to a rattle when you shake it kind of maturity.

This matters a great deal because lectins are released into seeds during the drying process. When the pod is allowed to stay on the vine that long, and the inside seeds dry to continue the strain of the plant, this is where things get most toxic as far as lectins go. Also, green beans and peas have both been genetically engineered through the ages to be eaten fresh and slightly immature. I’m talking about basic selective breeding here, nothing fancy and unwanted like GMO.

Fresh is the key word here. You can sit in your garden and happily pop open a pod of peas and be happy all day long. The same for green beans. Both of these plants are harvested before any such drying or releasing of lectins goes into the beans themselves. The beans we’re leery of on the Paleo diet are the sort of beans that have been dried or picked when they  are completely ripe. The green beans and peas that humans pick to eat do not reach full maturity.

Let’s See the Numbers!

Looking at the numbers here, we find that green beans and peas are pretty low on the danger list as far as the amounts of phytates and lectins. The phytates in green beans is reduced even further by simple cooking from 150 mg phytate/100 grams serving size to a paltry 52 mg phytate count. Now, peas do have more phytates so if you’re super sensitive then eat them in low quantities. Peas started with 384 mg phytates/100 gram portion to a reasonable 158 mg phytates when cooked. So it’s safe to say that approximately 60% of phytates are removed by soaking and cooking at 100C for about ten minutes. I was unable to locate numbers on lectins.

Judging from what I’ve seen in my own garden, this can also go for okra. Have you ever let an okra pod reach “full” maturity then try to actually eat the thing? Um yea, that’s not happening. At least from what I’ve seen, the only thing fully mature okra is good for (besides seed harvesting) is drying it and crafting it into an Autumn harvest wreath for the front door. Or perhaps making rope, paper, or cloth of some sort. It’s extremely fibrous, and yes my front door actually does don the Autumn harvest wreath of my accidental-mature-okra-fest.


Stephanie Stuart

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