Cooking beans in the casserole is unsafe

Cooking beans in the casserole may be unsafe

Pawel Malczewski
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Short answer

Beans must be cooked vigorously for at least 10 minutes to reduce toxins called lectins. Low temperature cooking methods are not effective in reducing those toxins and food poisoning may occur. For a quick answer click here.

Explanation

A lectin called phytohaemagglutinin is a toxin, present in high amounts in beans and grains, which must be reduced to a safe level in order to avoid poisoning. The safest method is to boil beans and grains for 10 minutes on high heat. The cooking can then continue until the beans are soft and ready to eat.

Many online and cook book recipes contain cooking methods that may not remove enough of those toxins, causing poisoning symptoms (such as severe vomiting, extreme nausea and diarrhea). If consumed on a regular basis, it may disrupt the immune system, lead to an increased intestinal permeability and have an impact on some autoimmune diseases.

One of the most common reports of food poisoning related to lectins from legumes results from using slow cookers or crock pots (e.g. in casseroles), which use below boiling point temperatures and are not appropriate for cooking legumes.

Another method, the sous-vide, is becoming very popular these days and is often mentioned in the recipes and sous-vide equipment sources as a new method of cooking beans below the boiling point. (1)Health Canada. Lectins in Dry Legumes. Available here. (2)FDA – U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Foodborne Pathogenic Microorganisms and Natural Toxins Handbook Phytohaemagglutinin. Available here. (3)Miyake K, Tanaka T, McNeil PL. Lectin-Based Food Poisoning: A New Mechanism of Protein Toxicity. PLoS ONE. 2007; 2(8): e687. Available here. (4)Vojdani A. Lectins, agglutinins, and their roles in autoimmune reactivities. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine [2015, 21 Suppl 1:46-51]. Available here.

Cooking at 80 degrees Celsius increases the toxicity of the lectins by 5-fold in comparison to the raw legumes. (read more..)

Conclusion

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While cooking methods at low temperatures are a great for cooking animal proteins and some fruit and vegetables, they should not be used for cooking legumes, due to the potential of food poisoning and health complications in the case of frequent consumption of undercooked beans.

References   [ + ]

1. Health Canada. Lectins in Dry Legumes. Available here.
2. FDA – U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Foodborne Pathogenic Microorganisms and Natural Toxins Handbook Phytohaemagglutinin. Available here.
3. Miyake K, Tanaka T, McNeil PL. Lectin-Based Food Poisoning: A New Mechanism of Protein Toxicity. PLoS ONE. 2007; 2(8): e687. Available here.
4. Vojdani A. Lectins, agglutinins, and their roles in autoimmune reactivities. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine [2015, 21 Suppl 1:46-51]. Available here.

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