Antinutritional factors:protease inhibitors and lectins

Author(s): Silva MR, Silva MAAP


The antinutritional factors present in foods can cause adverse physiological effects or decrease the bioavailability of nutrients. Health risk factors associated with antinutrients include: lack of knowledge of the tolerance levels to these compounds in the human organism, little available information on the degree of variation of individual risks and little knowledge with respect to the influence of environmental factors on the detoxification capacity of the human organism. The possible adverse effects of protease inhibitors and lectin on human health are, in most cases, only inferred by way of experiments with laboratory animals. Pancreatic hypertrophy caused by trypsin inhibitors has been shown in some animal experiments. Alterations in physiological functions at the intestinal level shown by animals submitted to lectins containing diets seem to be related to the specificity of these substances with the intestinal mucosa cells. There is no evidence that the trypsin inhibitors and lectins present in adequately processed foods are toxic to humans.

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