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Memories of the 28th Century

Beans, the Toxic seeds

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Beans have long been touted as excellent sources of proteins and fiber, but beans are well protected by toxic chemicals. Many types of beans contain phytohaemagglutinin, a lectin that happens to be toxic; it is a relative of the poison, Ricin, that is found in Castor beans.

In fact, beans have an incomplete set of amino acids, but the missing ones can mostly be found in rice, which is why rice and beans are often found together. Even putting them together isnít as good from the point of view of nutrition as is eating meat. Animal proteins are better sources of many nutrients than are vegetables; even insects and earthworms have a better assortment of nutrients than beans have. Beans and most vegetables are largely cellulose and complex sugars with a protein and some toxins tossed in to try to fend off animal that might eat the vegetables.

For beans to become edible they must be boiled long enough so that the phytohaemagglutinin breaks down. Not just dry beans must be boiled, but green beans need the same treatment. Most sources mention ten minutes as the amount of time beans must be boiled, but that is the minimum. To make dry beans non-toxic and non-gassy I was taught to rinse them, then soak them over night, rinse them again, and then cover them with cold water and put over heat until they are soft. After that they were drained before being put into the bean pot for another overnight course but with molasses, onion, salt pork, etc.

Of course there are some beans that have more toxins that other varieties, but all of them can be treated similarly, soak, boil, etc. In the course of researching more information about this matter, I learned that failing to boil the beans and just cooking them in a crock-pot will result in more toxins being produced. Donít worry about losing nutrients by soaking and rinsing; most of what comes out in the water are surface polysaccharides that are favored by intestinal floral. The nutrients are locked up in the firm material of the bean.

The above related to beans other than soy beans. The main toxins that soy beans contain are a variety of phytoestrogens. Those are chemicals that have the same effects as estrogen, the female sex hormone. The article from The Natural Farmer is a good explanation of the problems that phytoestrogens can cause to both males and females and gives a theory of why phytoestrogens are used by some plants as toxins. Yes, soy beans are not the only plant that contains phytoestrogens; see Phytoestrogen Content of Foods Consumed in Canada (linked below) for a list of many plants and the amounts they contain of various phytoestrogens, but soy contains much more than other plants.

In small quantities phytoestrogens are not a problem even in the concentrations they are in soy, and traditionally soy products were eaten in small quantities. But large quantities of phytoestrogens are linked to reproductive problems in animals including humans. Eating large amounts of soy interferes with ovulation, development of young animals, and problems in males. There is no reason to completely avoid all soy products but consumption should be kept to a minimum. There may be larger problems resulting from suing soy as feed for cattle; read the article.


It might be a good idea to avoid eating all beans, including soy products, unless you are present when the foods are prepared and you are satisfied that they were prepared properly. I have stopped eating all beans, because I have little faith in how they were cooked. There are some beans that contain small concentrations of toxins, but it's better to avoid all, just to be safe, I have claimed to have converted to Pythagoreanism the religion of the Ancient Greek Philosopher, because this religion forbids the eating of beans.

I have never been a consumer of much soy derived material, so I'm not all that concerned about it, but I know some people who think it is a wonder food. Maybe they will learn more. I regularly comment that I am surprised that soy has been banned, yet.

Phytoestrogen Content of Foods Consumed in Canada

on phytohaemagglutinin
Good overview of toxin in beans
An interesting explanation of the problems with soy
Tags: beans, ricin, toxins


  1. Lemual poot's Avatar
    When I think of all the raw beans I've consumed straight from my garden, in salads, and elsewhere over these past seven decades. Had I known these facts I would be a healthy man today. Wait a minute here I am a healthy man! I'm sure the scientific facts stated therein are accurate but the poisons in beans must not be too damn accumulative.

    How much poison do we all consume on a daily basis without a problem? When I first moved to Southeastern Colorado I was told not to drink city water because it contained cyanide and arsenic. Thirty-some years later I'm still drinking it. Maybe it's similar to the warnings against fast living. I've been assured if I had lived more carefully without all my vices I'd live five or ten years longer than I otherwise will but where would all that extra time go? It's tacked on at the end where it's more of a sentence than a blessing!

    Jack LaLanne gave up snack foods when he was fifteen and never touched them, or alcohol, drugs, or impure foods for the rest of his life and he lived to be 97. My French-Canadian grandmother was a chain smoker and an alcoholic with a lifetime of wild times under her belt when she expired at 93. Do you honestly suppose Grammy would have given it all up for those extra four years? If I could get the decade between thirty and forty back again I'd give up everything but breathing. However, if my choice is to surrender all those great memories in order to live to a hundred instead of ninety or ninety five, forget about it!
  2. PeterL's Avatar
    If you want to eat raw beans; that's your business. I certainly won't stop you.