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Potato Fact Check

Lectins in Potatoes

Do I need to be concerned about lectins in potatoes?


Lectins are naturally occurring proteins found in almost all plant foods, including potatoes.1 Although considered toxic if consumed raw and in large quantities, lectins are readily destroyed by cooking and processing. Potatoes are rarely, if ever, consumed raw. Thus, eating normal amounts of cooked foods containing lectins (including potatoes) is of little to no health risk for most people.2


Lectins gained notoriety in 2017 with the publication of The New York Times best-selling book, The Plant Paradox. The author, cardiac surgeon Dr. Steven Gundry, claims that lectins – a group of proteins found in abundance in legumes, grains and vegetables of the nightshade family including tomatoes and potatoes – are toxic to one’s gut. He contends that consuming foods with lectins will cause severe gastrointestinal problems and may even lead to autoimmune disorders such as Crohn’s disease and celiac disease.3 This is because lectins cannot be digested by human digestive enzymes and their chemical nature allows them to “stick” to the lining of the gut wall where they can cause inflammation resulting in “leaky gut syndrome,” a condition in which the lining of the gut becomes damaged, allowing food particles and toxins to move from the digestive tract into the bloodstream. According to Dr. Gundy, reducing lectins in the diet can have far-reaching effects on health promotion, disease prevention and even weight loss.3 The book provides ample amounts of anecdotal evidence and testimonials, but no scientific evidence to support the author’s claims.



Download PDF: Lectins in Potatoes →



1. Gong T, Wang X, Yang Y, Yan Y, Yu, Zhou R, Jiang W. Plant Lectins Activate the NLRP3 Inflammasome To Promote Inflammatory Disorders. J Immunol. 2017;198:2082-2092.
2. Mayo Clinic. Know Your Lectins. https://connect.mayoclinic.org/page/gastroenterology-and-gi-surgery/newsfeed-post/know-your-lectins-1/ Accessed 5/20/19
3. Gundry SR. The Plant Paradox: The Hidden Dangers in “Healthy” Foods That Cause Disease and Weight Gain. Haper Wave. 2017.
4. Voidani A. Lectins, agglutinins, and their roles in autoimmune reactivities. Altern ther Health Med. 2015;21(Suppl 1):46-51.
5. Cheung RCF, Wong JH, Ng TB, Naude R, Rolka K, Tse R, Tse TF, Chan H, Sze SCW. Tuber lectins with potentially exploitable bioactives. Curr Med Chem. 2018;25:5986-6001.
6. Yau T, Dan X, Ng CC, Ng TB. Lectins with potential for anti-cancer therapy. Molecules. 2015;20:3791-3810.

Rev. 06/26

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