As most people with peanut allergies know, a peanut is not a nut; it is a legume. But what is a legume?
A legume is a simple dry fruit. The edible part of the fruit is usually contained within a pod or shell. Legumes are often cited as a superior source of protein, especially for vegetarians and vegans. Legumes can also be a great source of fiber and minerals. They don’t spike insulin levels, so they are a favorite of people on low carbohydrate diets.
Health Risks of Legumes
Think of peanuts, beans or peas. They have some standout characteristics which make digestion challenging but do not influence the allergic response a person has. Legumes use phytates to bind their minerals. These phytates are not digestible by the body; therefore, eating legumes can cause inflammation, bloating, indigestion and gas. They also have lectins, which are carb-binding proteins that could be characterized as “sticky.” Lectins can eventually break down the intestinal lining and allow other toxins to enter the bloodstream. Because of this, legumes are often associated with IBS, Chrohn’s disease, arthritis and fibromyalgia.
Legumes and Peanut Allergies
An allergy to peanuts does not increase your chances of being allergic to other legumes. This is true even for soy (a legume) which is one of the more common food allergies. Legume allergies do tend to run in families and have a genetic component. Siblings seem to share the allergy.