These are sugar-binding proteins that may bind and agglutinate red blood cells (Liener, 1997). They occur in most plant foods that are often consumed in the raw form. Although lectins in soybeans and peanuts are not toxic, those from many other beans, such as lima beans, are toxic when taken orally. The toxicity of lectins arises from their binding with the specific receptor sites on the epithelial cells of the intestinal mucosa with subsequent lesions and abnormal development of microvillae. The lectin-induced disruption of the intestinal muscosa may allow entrance of the bacteria and their endotoxins to the blood as well as other complications.
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