Recently, polarizing opinions have emerged in the nutrition field as to whether eating certain plant foods is considered toxic, with purported claims to suggest they can cause gut-related inflammation and be implicated in the etiology of autoimmune diseases. This information would seem to be incongruent with the preponderance of published epidemiological, clinical, and non-clinical research over many decades indicating that plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, herbs, and spices are essential features of a healthful dietary pattern, reducing the risk for a multitude of chronic diseases. While plant foods have been historically heralded for their fiber, vitamin, mineral and phytonutrient content, there is the suggestion that they also contain ‘anti-nutrients’. Examples of anti-nutrients that have been called into question include lectins, oxalates, goitrogens, phytoestrogens, phytates, and tannins. In this presentation, each category of anti-nutrients will be defined, along with relevant clinical research to support their efficacy and/or safety concerns, followed by food-preparation strategies to help with optimizing the spectrum of healthful nutrients and reducing those that are less advantageous in plant-based foods for those who choose to eat them.
- Review the scientific evidence on benefits and risks of eating a plant-based diet
- Recognize the different ‘anti-nutrients’ and any published scientific data that may result in contraindications or caution in clinical use
- Examine tips for cooking and food preparation to optimize certain nutrients and reduce others in plants