defense chemicals

Know Your Poison: Saponins

Saponins are antinutrients that belong to a class of defense chemicals found in abundance in certain plants. They are also known as ‘amphipathic glycosides’ from the soap-like foam they produce when shaken in watery solutions – and the fact that they are used as a model for detergents. The latter is very disturbing, and we’ll get to it in a moment. Saponins have a water-soluble carbohydrate bonded to a fat-soluble triterpene or steroid structure. …

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Know your poison: Oxalates

In our last post, we looked at the dangerous lectins. Another very sinister defense mechanism in plants are oxalates (oxalic acid). The definition of oxalic acid is “a poisonous strong acid (COOH) that occurs in various plants as oxalates and is used especially as a bleaching or cleaning agent and as a chemical intermediate”.Oxalic acid is actually lethal in high doses. There have been a few recorded deaths of oxalate poisoning after overconsuming oxalate-rich …

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