The food that we eat can greatly affect our overall health and wellness. This is why it is very important that people take note of the food they eat and the products they consume. Some of these food items can be rich in certain nutrients or may even be identified as a possible staple of healthy foods. However, not all food items that come from natural sources have desirable components or compounds.
One such food item or product is tomatoes and tomatoes contain lectin, a type of compound that has been observed to produce some adverse health effects. So how does one remove these lectins from tomatoes? Is it even possible? In this article, we will look at what lectins are and how they can be removed from tomatoes.
Lectins: A Brief Overview
Lectins are compounds that be found in many different items even those we consume and can help in protecting the said items from bacteria, yeast, and wheat. But if a specific lectin becomes too good at doing its job (or being a really effective lectin), then it can result in some highly negative health effects for your body.
One of the most offensive forms of lectin is known as WGA or wheat germ agglutinin. WGA on its own isn’t really a problem but once consumed or ingested, it can start mimicking how the insulin acts in the body. But how and why does this happen? To find out, we need to start from the beginning of the process.
Generally, once food items are consumed particularly those that contain sugar, the pancreas will have insulin secreted into the bloodstream and eventually moved to the nerve cells, the muscle cells, and the fat cells. This is because the main role of insulin is to serve as the main door opener so that sugar can gain access to the cells and produce energy.
So then what happens when these lectins (particularly WGA) start takin insulin’s place in the fat, muscle, and nerve cells? Well, these lectins can latch on the aforementioned cells and not really act as door openers, resulting in the sugar to stay in the blood.
This can spell trouble for people who are at risk for or already have type 2 diabetes. Secondly, this condition can also lead to the wasting of muscles especially as we grow older or as we age.
Lastly, these lectins can block the receptors to our nerves including that handling satiation of the feeling of fullness. This can lead to increased caloric demand by the body which can translate to weight gain and higher weight reading once we hit the weighing scale.
Ultimately, consuming lectins and having these lectins override the function of the insulin can make one always craving for food which can lead to a brain that is starved for nutrients, a lot of fat, and reduced muscle mass.
How to Remove Lectins from Tomatoes (and Other Food Items or products too!)
It can be challenging to take out food items from a staple diet just because they have lectin. For some people, this may be doable, but if you must consume foods that are rich in lectin, there are a number of things one can do to help in reducing these food items lectin content. Enumerated below are some of them:
Soaking Food Items
When you were younger, did you ever see the grown-ups rinse and soak some grains and beans before cooking or boiling them? While they might not have thought about it as such, they were actually going through the motions of having the lectins reduced or removed.
There are a number of different soaking strategies for people from different cultures. However, one way of doing this is to first, have the beans soaked in a baking soda bath overnight. Change the water a number of times before going to bed.
Then, have the water replaced after waking up. For each new soak, a fresh batch of baking soda should be added. Finally, have the beans drained well before having them cooked in a pressure cooker
Using a pressure cooker
If you have tomatoes, potatoes, and beans as ingredients for the food that you are preparing, then the best way to have their lectin content destroyed is by having them cooked via a pressure cooker.
It may be noteworthy to mention, though, that it won’t be able to remove all the lectins in them- especially for items such as Spelt, barley, oats, and wheat- so these items should be completely avoided as much as possible.
Regardless, pressure cooking can be effective in terms of lectin reduction for some legumes and veggies and so it is best for people to know how to cook using a pressure cooker.
Peeling and Deseeding
Whenever plant-based foods rich in lectin are prepared or cooked, (e.g. squash, eggplant, and cucumbers), it is always best to have them peeled and their seeds removed as the most lectin filled part of these plant-based food items are its rind, peel, and hull. These are the parts of the plant where those lectins are actually wont to hide.
A serrated peeler may be used in the removal of plant skins and since these peelers are razor-edged, they get the job done efficiently whether on hard or soft veggies. Another strategy to have their skin easily peeled off is to have these plants or veggies boiled for around one (1) minute. Once they are peeled, one simply has to scoop out the seeds using a spoon.
Once veggies and fruits are fermented, good bacteria can be allowed to break down and have their defenses and other components converted. This is in fact why some of the healthiest food items are made from fermented products.
One example fo this is that regular tofu and soy are not as healthy as that of miso and tempeh as the latter are both fermented while the former is not fermented. In addition, fermented food items are also rich in healthy pro-biotics!