We're constantly hearing about how wonderful and healthy fruits and vegetables are.  Just hearing that phrase: "fruits and vegetables" immediately summons the impression and vision of healthfulness and wellbeing, and makes us feel all warm n fuzzy inside.  What people singing the praises of plant foods always leave out is the fact that those healthful fruits and vegetables have a dark side.  This page will attempt to balance out the view of plant foods to include the reality-that they are not perfect and not 100% harmless.

Plants, unlike animals and insects, can't get away from their prey, they can't hide, they can't attack.  So they must rely on chemical warfare to ensure their survival or the survival of their species by limiting how much predators can eat of their species if they can eat them at all.  Plants have evolved their own arsenal of pesticides, fungicides, and more.  They have antinutrients which block the absorption of vitamins and minerals.  They have proteins called lectins (highest in grains, legumes, and dairy), which can attack and cause damage to cells and cause autoimmune responses. 

Some people are very sensitive to these substances and must avoid them.  People with certain health conditions should avoid certain types of plant foods.  For example:  those with thyroid problems should avoid plants from the brassica family-broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, spinach, kale, brussel sprouts, collard greens etc.  Although cooking supposedly destroys goitrogens.  I don't know if I have any thyroid issues but I don't eat any of the brassica plants raw.  Night shades are problematic for some.  These include tomatoes, potatoes and eggplant.  It's interesting to note that anytime I ever had eggplant with tomato, it would inflame the roof of my mouth to the point of making it painful to eat. 

Before plant foods were hailed as the saviors of humanity and health, plants were considered very suspect.  People were somewhat paranoid about their safety.  When you think about the warnings you get when foraging for edible plants in the wild, this makes a lot of sense.  We feel that cultivated foods are safe, but these foods do contain many toxins.  And just because you don't have an acute reaction, doesn't mean these substances aren't doing some kind of damage. 

I can only hope that if we eat healthy clean enough diets and get our health in order, our detoxing organs will function well enough to eliminate these toxins before they can do much damage.  The takeaway message here isn't stop eating plant foods (I know I couldn't give them up) but to be aware of the issues they have so we can make informed decisions.

Plants Bite Back

Natural food toxins

Natural toxins in foodstuffs

What are Salicylates? Could Salicylates be Zapping Your Energy and Making You Feel Ill?

Secondary Metabolites in Plants (has chart)

Green tea extract only affects markers of oxidative status postprandially: lasting antioxidant effect of flavonoid-free diet.

A Hidden Danger with Nuts, Grains, Beans and Seeds

Natural Toxins in Food

Oxalic Acid and Oxalates in certain foods and how they effect you

The Oxalate Content of Food

What is solanine and is it toxic ?

Popular Foods Source of Arthritis Pain and Inflammation-nightshades and their connection to arthritis

Phytic acid in nuts

Fractional magnesium absorption is significantly lower in human subjects from a meal served with an oxalate-rich vegetable, spinach, as compared with a meal served with kale, a vegetable with a low oxalate content.

Whole Grains Can Cause Tooth Decay

Do Bread & Cereal Cause Cavities? Reversing Dental Decay With Food

Gluten sensitivity confirmed by genetics and blood tests in irritable bowel syndrome


Do dietary lectins cause disease?

The Lowdown On Lectins

Agrarian diet and diseases of affluence – Do evolutionary novel dietary lectins cause leptin resistance?


Lectins: Their Damaging Role in Intestinal Health, Rheumatoid Arthritis and Weight Loss


Micro Nutrient Antagonists/Inhibitors

Thiamine deficiency and its prevention and control in major emergencies
"Heat-stable thiamine antagonists occur in several plants; ferns, tea, betel nut. They include
polyphenols; these and related compounds are found in blueberries, red currants, red beets, brussel
sprouts, red cabbage, betel nuts, coffee and tea (Hilker and Somogyi, 1982). They react with
thiamine to yield the non-absorbable thiamine disulfide. In addition, some flavonoids have been
reported to antagonize thiamine as well as haemin in animal tissues."

Thiamine Absorption Problems (tea/polyphenols/flavonoids/alcohol)

Tips for Dealing with Plant Toxins:

Cook vegetables

Eat small amounts of a variety of plant foods

Helpful Food Combinations:

For calcitriol in nightshades, eat with goose liver, cheese, fatty grass-fed meats and pasture-fed butter as they contain K2.   More info on k2

For Phytates:  soak; sour; ferment; roast; sprout (should also be soaked & cooked); consume with calcium, Vit A & C; have good gut flora more info here


The Antioxidant Myth

Antioxidants: When Too Much Of A Good Thing Can Kill You

Too Much Of A Good Thing May NOT Be A Good Thing When Dealing With Antioxidants.

Reductive stress on life span extension in C. elegans

Reductive Stress may Cause Heart Diseases

Evidence in support of a concept of reductive stress

No effect of 600 grams fruit and vegetables per day on oxidative DNA damage and repair in healthy nonsmokers.

Antioxidants: Pros and Cons


Plant Toxins:

phytates-binds to minerals, may reduce digestibility of protein
protease or enzyme inhibitors - prevents the enzyme protease, impairing protein digestion
alpha-amylase inhitors
molecular-mimicking proteins
lectins-gains access to cells and causes damage
oxalates-binds to minerals, can contribute to kidney stones
goitrogens-bad for thyroid
phytoestrogens-mimic estrogen
polyphenols-known thiamine blocker