What The Hell Is A Legume?

You might be wondering what the hell a legume is. Let us explain.

A legume is a simple, dry fruit contained within a shed or a pod. The most well-known legumes are peas, beans, peanuts, and alfalfa (we have a full list below).

Bean Legume

No, not THAT bean

Legume Index

Why Aren’t Legumes Paleo?

Phytates bind up minerals in food, thereby preventing your body from utilizing them. This means these foods are not digested. They can also cause inflammation, bloating, indigestion, and gas. Yuck.

Lectins are carb-binding proteins that are relatively “sticky.” They’re difficult for our bodies to break down and therefore cause indigestion. Their desire to bind also leads them to bind with your intestinal lining.

Lectins can also cause leaky gut syndrome, which is when the intestinal lining is broken down, allowing toxins and anti-nutrients to leak into the bloodstream.

Lectins are commonly associated with IBS, Chrohn’s disease, arthritis, fibromyalgia, and many other issues.

Bean Legumes

Okay, But Besides That…

Legumes don’t tend to have great nutritional profiles. They’re not bad but they’re not great.

They tend to have a high carbohydrate content for what they do provide. They’re not as bad as processed foods or grains but if weight loss is your goal, there are definitely much better (and paleo) choices out there for you.

What’s Good about Legumes?

Legumes are most famous for their protein content. They tend to be great sources of protein for non-meat eaters. They’re also great sources of minerals and fiber. Because of their fiber content, they don’t spike insulin levels and inhibit fat loss as grains and other simple carbohydrates do.

That said, they’re simply “okay” choices. They’re not the best foods and, while there’s variance in the nutrition provided by different legumes, you can certainly get all the nutrients they contain from other, superior choices. We recommend you do that.

Peanut Legumes

List of Legumes

  • Alfalfa
  • Asparagus bean
  • Asparagus pea
  • Baby lima bean
  • Black bean
  • Black-eyed pea
  • Black turtle bean
  • Boston bean
  • Boston navy bean
  • Broad bean
  • Cannellini bean
  • Chickpeas
  • Chili bean
  • Cranberry bean
  • Dwarf bean
  • Egyptian bean
  • Egyptian white broad bean
  • English bean
  • Fava bean
  • Fava coceira
  • Field pea
  • French green bean
  • Frijol bola roja
  • Frijole negro
  • Great northern bean
  • Green bean
  • Green and yellow peas
  • Kidney bean
  • Lentils
  • Lespedeza
  • Licorice
  • Lima bean
  • Madagascar bean
  • Mexican black bean
  • Mexican red bean
  • Molasses face bean
  • Mung bean
  • Mung pea
  • Mungo bean
  • Navy bean
  • Pea bean
  • Peanut
  • Peruvian bean
  • Pinto bean
  • Red bean
  • Red clover
  • Red eye bean
  • Red kidney bean
  • Rice bean
  • Runner bean
  • Scarlet runner bean
  • Small red bean
  • Snow pea
  • Southern pea
  • Sugar snap pea
  • Soybean
  • Wax bean
  • White vlover
  • White kidney bean
  • White pea bean

The Verdict

Are Legumes Paleo?


Will they kill you? Probably not. They’re certainly better for you than grains but if you want to adhere to a strict paleo regimen, you’ll want to eliminate legumes from your diet.

Sources & References

  1. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/legumes/NU00260
  2. http://jcem.endojournals.org/content/88/10/4857.abstract
  3. http://www.krispin.com/lectin.html
  4. http://www.marksdailyapple.com/lectins/
  5. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legume

photo credit: Stuck in Customs | Chiot’s Run | ruurmo

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    • admin says

      Well they’re technically “legumes” – not “nuts.” The “nut” categorization is a misnomer since it’s botanically categorized as a “legume.”


  1. […] Peanuts also contain lectins, which are carb-binding proteins that are relatively “sticky.” They’re difficult for our bodies to break down and thus cause indigestion and their binding leads them to bind with your intestinal lining. They can also cause “leaky gut syndrome” which is when it breaks down the intestinal lining and allows other toxins & anti-nutrients to “leak” into the bloodstream. They’re commonly associated with IBS, Chrohn’s disease, Arthritis, Fibromyalgia and more. (Source) […]

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