Today on the Ask Prof Noakes Podcast, we talk about legumes on the LCHF Diet. Are foods like chickpeas and lentils allowed when eating a low carb high fat or banting diet?
There are pros and cons to eating legumes, the biggest issue being the presence of anti-nutrients. While they do have a good nutritional content, including high amounts of protein and fibre, they also have a negative affect on your absorption of other nutrients and minerals.
The good; if you take one cup of lentils for instance you may have 40 grams of carbohydrate, but also 18 grams of protein and 16 grams of fibre. Legumes also have an ability to fix nitrogen from the atmosphere. Nitrogen is an essential component of amino acids, and this is why legumes are among the best plant-originated sources of protein.
Chickpeas/lentils a good and bad diet addition
The bad; the anti-nutrients in the legumes counteract the benefits. One of these anti-nutrients, phytic acid, is found in all edible seeds and legumes. It impairs the absorption of minerals including, iron, zinc and calcium, which could lead to mineral deficiencies over time. However this is only an issue if your general dietary meat intake is low.
Anti-nutrients are present in most cereals, grains and vegetables as these foods don’t have any other form of defense mechanism. It is important to understand that this is not just a legume issue. Phytic acids however are mostly common in the hulls of nuts, seeds (legumes) and grains.
Anti-nutrients in legumes can be reduced
The chemical reaction they cause in your gut is one of protection, but the affects can be reduced. The phytic acid content can be reduced by soaking, sprouting and fermentation, this allows for better adsorption and increased nutritional value.
Anti-nutrients aside, they are still generally high in carbohydrates. This means as far as the LCHF diet goes they are not the best choice. They are not a complete no no, but depending on your level of the diet you will want to restrict legume intake.