There are certain plants that can be toxic and poisonous when you eat them raw, and I wondered whether that was the case with eating legumes raw.
I did a little research and here’s what I found and would like to share
Beans you buy in a can are already cooked and therefore, you can eat them without cooking.
Raw legumes should not be eaten raw, however, many people wonder whether it’s because of the taste, or because they can be poisonous.
So, below I’ll explain whether raw legumes are poisonous, what happens if you eat raw beans, as well as a list of the legumes you can eat raw.
Are Raw Legumes Poisonous?
Most fruits and vegetables are perfectly fine to eat raw.
But, since almost all legumes need to be cooked, why is that, and is it because they’re poisonous?
To remove the toxins in legumes they need to be soaked and then cooked.
But, it’s important that they are cooked on high heat.
How to prepare raw legumes
- Soak for a minimum of 5 hours
- Boil on high heat for 10 minutes
- Do not slow cook legumes
It’s recommended by nutritionists that you soak legumes in water for a minimum of 5 hours.
Most of the time it can be more convenient to leave them to soak for 12 hours.
For example, you may pour them into a bowl or pot in the morning and leave them to soak all day. And then cook them briefly in the evening.
Or, you may choose to soak them overnight, and then cook them for lunch.
Beans need to be cooked on high heat. Slow cookers are a common way to make stews and soups.
And beans are a great addition to these kinds of recipes. However, cooking legumes on low heat will not remove the toxins.
Therefore, if you want to add beans to a crockpot, or slow cooker you should first boil them on high heat to completely remove the toxins, and then add them to a slow cooker.
That way the flavors can marinate and mix. With canned beans you can do as you like, and they don’t need to be pre-cooked.
Poisonous Beans List
Most legumes are poisonous when eaten raw.
However, there are some exceptions. So, I will explain what beans are poisonous and which ones are safe to eat raw.
There are various fruits and vegetables that can be deadly if consumed.
So, if you’re out camping or hiking or come across an unknown variety of beans you should never eat them, without knowing exactly what they are and how to prepare them.
Therefore, a good rule of thumb is to never consume raw beans or legumes.
Most legumes are dried to preserve them.
Where they can keep for 1 to 2 years or more, provided they are kept dry, cool, and rats and mice don’t find them – particularly important for long term storage in a basement or the like.
What Happens if You Eat a Raw Kidney Bean?
Kidney beans are some of the most widely available beans, whether in their maroon-skinned variety or white kidney beans, which are often called white beans or cannellini beans.
Since you shouldn’t eat them raw, what are the side effects of doing so?
Kidney beans grow in pods, and are harvested and then dried. As you may know, tinned kidney beans are also widely available.
Tinned kidney beans are already cooked before they are canned. Raw foods are considered by many to contain more nutrients.
But, research has shown that although some nutrients are lost, other nutrients can be increased by cooking.
Tinned beans are stored in a brine so that they don’t dry out.
And it has been shown that vitamin C and vitamin B will degrade when dissolved in water.
So, some vitamin C, and vitamin B are lost.
Beans are typically very low in vitamin C, but can contain around 10% of the daily recommended intake of vitamin B.
Therefore, there are some nutritional benefits to eating freshly cooked kidney beans over the tinned version.
But, overall tinned beans are a great source of fiber, protein, as well as, particular nutrients like manganese and calcium.
Not to mention, they are very convenient because you don’t need to soak them. Tinned kidney beans can be added cold to salads, or eaten as a side dish.
But, it’s also fine to reheat them to be used with rice and beans, chilies, or stews.
What Bean Is Poisonous When Raw?
The packaging on dried beans will generally have cooking instructions that will explain the proper way to cook them so that they are not poisonous.
But, which beans are poisonous raw?
It’s also the case for legumes that are very similar to beans such as lentils, and chickpeas.
I have read anecdotal evidence that suggests that chickpeas can be eaten raw.
However, the advice of medical professionals is to cook them first.
Some people eat a raw diet or prefer to eat raw foods. However, in the case of beans this isn’t possible.
Therefore, if you’re on a raw diet or you primarily eat raw food, it’s best to only consume a small number of cooked beans so that it won’t significantly affect your diet.
Should you drain beans? Tinned and home-cooked
When you buy tinned beans they are stored in brine, and when you cook beans at home you boil them for 10 minutes on high heat.
But, should you drain the liquid, and is it OK to drink the liquid or reheat tinned beans with the liquid.
The liquid that tinned beans are submerged in contains high amounts of salt, and studies have shown that draining and rinsing them removes as much as 41% of the sodium (source).
The brine in canned beans has a gooey consistency, and tends to have a bland bean taste that isn’t very delicious.
So, you may choose to drain it off. When you reheat them the liquid can also evaporate off. Which gives the resulting dish a stronger bean taste, which can overpower the other flavors.
Draining off the beans and rinsing them in water can tend to give the beans a fresher, cleaner taste.
Beans are high in various nutrients, but you may be wondering how healthy beans are. I looked into it, and summarized the research into an article about how healthy beans are.
Read it [here: link: how healthy are beans].
Why are raw legumes poisonous?
Raw legumes, with rare exception, should never be consumed raw.
But, why is that and what makes them poisonous?
The process of soaking and cooking raw legumes – both dried and fresh – breaks down and removes the phytohaemagglutinin and lectin, and they can be eaten.
Legumes are the seeds of the plant, and in my opinion, it’s probably a defense mechanism that discourages animals and humans from eating them.
Fruits and vegetables are different to legumes because you eat the flesh surrounding the seeds.
And in the case of vegetables, you only eat the roots, stems, and leaves of the plant.