Written by: Dr. Jacquie Jacob, University of Kentucky
Lectins are proteins that have the unique property of binding carbohydrate-containing molecules which cause the agglutination of red blood cells. In the digestive tract, agglutination causes the atrophy of the microvilli, reduces the viability of the epithelial cells, and increases the weight of the small intestine caused by hyperplasia of crypt cells. Moist heat treatment will destroy much of the lectin present in grain legumes. Lectins, however, are quite resistant to inactivation by dry heat treatment.