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How and Why to Reduce Phytic Acid in Foods for Better Health


With so many meals coming in a package, and traditional ways of food preparation being lost, many aren't getting all of the nutrition they think they are.

Phytic acid is a substance that naturally occurs in many foods. And, while it is actually an antioxidant, there is a darker side to it. Phytic acid actually binds to minerals in the intestine and keeps the body from absorbing and using them. When you are expecting to get nutrition from the food you eat, that can be a pretty hard pill to swallow.

Foods High in Phytic Acid and How to Go About Eating Them

Phytic acid is higher in some foods than others. Grains, beans, and nuts, and soybeans are notoriously high in it. . Even corn contains phytic acid. Thankfully, there are ways to reduce the phytic acid in these foods. Doing so will make the nutrients in them more available. The most common measure that works for most foods is soaking. Here are some common foods high in phytic acid and the suggested soaking times for each:
  • almonds 4-12 hours
  • cashews 1-4 hours
  • flaxseeds 1-8 hours
  • pecans 2-4 hours
  • sunflower seeds 4-8 hours
  • walnuts 2-6 hours
Grains are a different story. Some like wheat and rye will have drastically reduced phytic acid levels after just two hours of soaking. Other types of grain require much longer soaking times to put a dent in the phytic acid levels. Putting something acidic, such as yogurt, lemon juice, or vinegar, in with the grain will help out with the elimination. Grains do not need to be rinsed after soaking. A shortcut to soaking would be to make sourdough bread. Sourdough does not require soaking. Starter for this type of bread can be made at home, or a starter mix can be bought from a store.
In beans, phytic acid can be reduced to an acceptable level by soaking in warm water for 18 hours. Change water and rinse thoroughly before cooking. This method will not work for soybeans, however. They are extremely high in phytic acid, and only fermentation works to reduce this in soybeans. Some soybean foods that are fermented and therefore most likely have safe levels of phytic acid are tempeh, miso, tamari, and soy sauce.
Reducing phytic acid in foods before consumption can indeed seem like a lot of work at first. However, like any other learned habit, it will likely become second nature after a while. The methods mentioned in this article have been used traditionally, and are backed by research. So do your body a favor and provide it with the minerals it needs to function.
Enlita.com, " Enhancing Digestion", 9-29-10
HealthBanquet.com, "Soaking Grains, Soaking Flour Optimizes Nutrition" , 9-29-10
CookusInterruptus.com, "Is soy good for you? bad? or indifferent?", 9-29-10
WHFoods.org, "What is phytic acid and can it interfere with the absorption of iron from plant-based foods?", 9-29-10
PhyticAcid.org, "Tips for Consumers from Food Science", 9-29-10
Healthy-Eating-Politics, "Phytic Acid: Healthy or Harmful?", 9-29-10
KitchenStewardship.com, 9-29-10

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