Why No Legumes in PCOS Diet

by Kyra Walton
(Quemado, NM)

I don't understand still why legumes, such as peas and peanuts are not recommended, in addition to grains such as corn. Is it just because pesticide exposure? What if they are organic and grown in my own garden? What if they are organic-grown peanuts still in the shell?


Ed. Note: Good question. There are numerous considerations.

1) If you have PCOS and are insulin resistant, refined legumes are not advisable because they may represent a source of refined carbohydrate that worsens blood sugar and insulin problems.

2) Legumes contain "lectins", which are molecules that attach themselves to other molecules in your body. This is usually not a good thing. Different lectins in different legumes can affect people differently. For example, certain lectins can cause your red blood cells to form clumps. If you are blood type A and eat a bowl of lima beans, you red blood cells are likely to clump up, thus creating a health problem that didn't exist before.

Lectins may also interfere with hormone function (such as insulin) and may also trigger an immune response.

Components of soy can affect estrogen activity and thyroid hormone function.

3) There is always the issue of pesticides, herbicides and fungicides in grains and legumes. You can't see or smell these contaminants. So you have no way of knowing how much of these chemicals you are consuming.

However, it's a whole different thing if you grow your own legumes such as peas. In this case, I would say legumes are quite OK if you are growing them yourself, assuming that the particular legume does not have lectins which cause trouble for your blood type.

4) Soybeans may contain high levels of phytates, which bind to minerals and thus impair their absorption. They may -- or may not -- be a problem for a particular individual.

5) Eating fresh peas from your garden is far, far superior to eating peanuts you bought in the supermarket.

6) If you're going to eat peanuts, raw organic ones in the shell are the best choice.

7) Consider that most of us eat enormous quantities of grains and legumes, primarily corn, wheat and soy. We are not genetically designed to be seed eaters. All of these are seeds. What we need to eat more of is vegetation. Have you eaten your recommended five servings of vegetables today?

8) We're not saying that legumes are "bad". We're saying that people are affected differently by eating legumes. You may be one of those individuals who can eat a substantial quantity of legumes. We're also saying that highly processed legumes are not your best choice.

Whether you have PCOS or not, you'll want to be sensitive to which legumes agree with you and which don't. Legumes are only a portion of your diet. A limited portion.

Some people should have few or no legumes or only certain specific legumes. Others have more freedom to choose.

If you have rather severe symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome, it may advisable to minimize (or even avoid legumes) and replace the legumes with vegetables until your symptoms improve.

There are no hard and fast rules. Use your judgment and common sense.

Comments for Why No Legumes in PCOS Diet

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by: PCOS Editor

I generally agree with what you say.

I don't remember any mention of "refined legumes" in this discussion thread. I did mention "refined grains".

We have gradually shifted our thinking to include some legumes. As you say, it's how they are processed or prepared that is important. An example of semi-processed legumes would be refried beans. And as you say, whole legumes soaked beforehand is desirable.

I'm out of the office for a few days but will comment further regarding lectins and other issues you raised later this week.

Thanks for an excellent critique.

What is a "heavily processed legume"?
by: Anonymous

What are "refined legumes" and "highly processed legumes"? I have searched Google and nothing comes up. Are you just talking about things like JIF and Skippy? Or those Trader Joe's puffed pea things? There are many reasons to avoid those kinds of foods, but none of it has to do with them being legumes.

Also, the "blood type" stuff you refer to does not really have any scientific validity, as far as I have been able to tell through researching it both on other websites and through my university's journal databases. Nobody should be eating uncooked lima beans or kidney beans--but when you soak and soak (~12 hours of soaking with water changes) and cook and cook (4 hours maybe) these beans, there are hardly any harmful lectins left. Tomatoes are on many "best foods for PCOS" lists and yet they are high in lectins.

I just think most beans are a great food and safe to eat unless you have an allergy or other reasons for not eating them. For instance, a friend has digestive trouble when she eats beans--obviously that's a good reason not to eat them. I don't get any digestive trouble. Many diabetes and heart health guides cite beans as an excellent food because they are low on the glycemic index and are actually good for helping with insulin resistance.

What can reduce testosterone?
by: PCOS Editor

A better diet can help to reduced testosterone levels because it can reduce insulin resistance. Insulin resistance means that the body does not efficiently utilize the hormone insulin. Too much insulin can cause the ovaries to produce testosterone.

Eat more veggies, less refined grain foods. Nuts and seeds OK. Eat more fish or take fish oil capsules or cod liver oil. Stay away from all processed convenience foods. Eat only whole foods. Wheat is NOT OK.

Spearmint tea is helpful. Drink as much as you like.

Saw palmetto extract inhibits the action of testosterone. Fish oil concentrate is always a very good idea. NAC and inositol also have a testosterone-lowering effect.

Ground flax seeds can be a part of your diet. They provide fiber, some nutrients and a certain type of oega-3 oil. However, the omega-3 oil found in fish oil is more effective for polycystic ovary syndrome problems.

Regarding testosterone level
by: Neela

I am having very high testosterone level..is there any food which can reduce testosterone level ??..as am having a hair fall n unwanted facial hair growth issue..I heard from many sources that spearmint tea is good for decreasing testosterone level..is spearmint tea really beneficial in reducing testosterone level ??...if yes then how often I need to drink this tea in a day & of what brand ??..and one more question...Does ground flaxseeds are useful in pcos??

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