Are Legumes Paleo?

Learning about legumes and the Paleo lifestyle

What is a legume?

Simply put a legume is the editable seed contained within a shed or a pod. The most well-known legumes include alfalfa, peas, beans, chickpeas, lentils, carob, soybeans, peanuts, and tamarind. But, Are Legumes Paleo?

The Legume

Legumes are not the worse things you could be eating, compared to overly processed foods and sweets, but there is a reason we tend to avoid them on the Paleo diet.

Just like grains, legumes contain lectin, phytate, and have a high content in carbohydrates. Lectins are known to cause ‘leaky gut’ issues along with inflammation, while phytates prevent the absorption of essential minerals needed from particular foods. While carbohydrates are not essentially bad for you, they are not your best friend either.


Unlike plants, humans can not digest phytates.

Phytates bind to essential nutrients and minerals {magnesium, calcium, zinc, and iron}. Once phytate binds to a critical nutrient, they are then unavailable to the body and taken out of your system. In return, this leaves you deficient or lacking in the above-mentioned minerals and nutrients.


Lectins are a sticky anti-nutrient protein found in large quantities of legumes (and grains). They are meant to discourage the consumption of the plant by presenting themselves to predators. Consuming lectins in large amounts can lead to intestinal damage, adverse gut health, and leptin resistance.


Definition: Prefix: Phyto: Plant / Root: Estrogen: Female Sex Hormone

Legumes contain plant estrogens which are not technically estrogen but instead they act like it. These plant estrogens bind to the same receptors as estrogen does, but in weaker signals – causing an overproduction of estrogen and disrupting your hormonal system. (1)


While carbohydrates are not necessarily bad for you, they are not your best friend either. With diabetes and obesity at an all-time high, it is best to avoid large amounts of carbohydrates as they will cause weight gain, blood sugar spikes, and inflammation.

Read more about The Science Behind the Paleo Diet.

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Legumes to Avoid

  • Alfalfa
  • Black Bean
  • Black-Eyed Pea
  • Cannellini Bean
  • Chickpeas
  • Fava Bean
  • Field Pea
  • French Green Bean
  • Frijol
  • Great Northern Bean
  • Green Bean
  • Kidney Bean
  • Lentils
  • Lima Bean
  • Madagascar bean
  • Mexican Black Bean
  • Mexican Red Bean
  • Mung Bean
  • Navy Bean
  • Pea
  • Peanut
  • Peruvian Bean
  • Pinto Bean
  • Red Bean
  • Snow Pea
  • Sugar Snap Pea
  • Soybean
  • Wax Bean
  • White Pea

Are Legumes Paleo?

If you are sticking to a Paleo diet, it is best to avoid legumes altogether, especially if weight loss your number one goal.

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