|The carnivorous piranha plant shows that plants can bite back.|
Sorry, folks, but it’s not so simple. Mother Nature put a surprising number of all-natural anti-nutrients and toxins in grains, nuts, seeds and beans. Phytates, for example, block seeds from sprouting prematurely. Protease inhibitors, saponins, lectins and phytoestrogens harm insects, animals and other predators that would otherwise eat too many of them. If evolutionary theories are correct, wounded plants produce extra inhibitors and other anti-nutrients to save the plant species. The idea is to cause predators—including plant-eating humans—to experience slowed growth and diminished reproductive ability. Not having the capacity for flight, the plants fight back with chemical warfare.
Although it might sound like a “rotten idea,” squirrels are smart to bury nuts in the ground, then dig them up and eat them weeks and months later. Similarly, people in traditional cultures all over the world process their grains, nuts, seeds and beans by a process akin to pre-digestion before cooking and eating them.
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