Tomato Frog, photo courtesy of cites.org
In 2006 in Japan, over 1,000 people got sick after trying a new food fad (no, this isn't about the tomato frog-- that comes later). This "fad" instructed them to toast white kidney beans, then grind them up in a coffee mill. THEN, put them on their rice, to help them lose weight.
Many experienced vomiting and diarrhea, with 122 going to the hospital. Their problem? Lectin poisoning.
What on earth are lectins? Lectins are special proteins in many legumes, fruits, and beans. They are actually used as a defense mechanism against insects trying to eat them. They are NOT digested easily. (Have you ever been advised to not eat a kidney bean raw?) Over time lectins can damage the intestinal lining, possibly causing "leaky gut" and immune disease.
But if they(beans) are cooked thoroughly the lectins shouldn't be a problem. Raw kidney beans have 70,000 lectin units, but if soaked overnight and boiled fifteen minutes, it goes down to 200-400 lectin units. And they have interesting health benefits. They can actually modulate inflammation. According to reporter Cara Rosenbloom, these proteins stick together, are antimicrobial, and have anti-cancer potential. Dr. Michael Gregor cites research where lectins limited tumor growth. They could even "extinguish" colon cancer cells and help them differentiate back into normal cells. (This research has only been done with animals and in petri dishes, but researchers are encouraged by this.)
Lectins can be found in potatoes, peanuts, seeds, green peppers, and fruit. But well cooked, they shouldn't be a problem. Avoid if you have digestive issues with these foods.
And speaking of tomatoes (was I?), there's a unique, almost comical looking frog found only in Madagascar, off the east coast of Africa. From the genus Dyscophus, the tomato frog is a red-orange (even redder in females) frog that lives in a rain forest. Its body is wide and squat, a fat, round shape that almost looks like a tomato slice on top, a dark brown body stripe running from behind the eye to the rear leg on each side.
They will even "inflate" their round body and extend their legs out to appear larger when threatened, their reddish color no doubt a hint to predators that, hey, we're toxic, stay away. They actually give off a white substance, which irritates people's hands if they try to touch one. (I don't know if I could ever find this freaky frog in the forest -- its' only three inches long, five inches for the female.) And when they mate, a female can lay up to 15,000 eggs!
Over a decade ago, here in Virginia, it rained for the whole month of July. and I didn't get to try out the wading pool my son had bought me. In August I noticed these tiny lines moving in the pool -- they were tadpoles! I'd read online they could eat boiled (then frozen and thawed out) lettuce and grass clippings, and any algae found in their watery home.
Some of them did get big enough to hop out, but only a few. After four months I put them in a pail of pool water (they were probably green frogs) and took them to the nearest lake. Many of them still had a tail or only two legs. I spilled them into the lake, hoping they wouldn't be eaten by a fish before they grew up.
It seems I have little control over frogs, but I will watch my "lectin" intake in the future (and help prevent gas).