Phytic Acid

phytic acidYou might remember me bringing up phytic acid in a previous post about sourdough/wild yeast breads.  Phytic acid is a compound found on all nuts, seeds, and grains.  It is what allows them to keep a hold of their phosphate.  It also serves as an antioxidant.  However, just because it is good for the plant doesn’t mean that it is good for us.  Phytic acid has been shown to inhibit our absorption of calcium, zinc, iron and magnesium.  These are all minerals that we must have to function in a healthy manner.  The three main ways to get rid of phytic acid in these food sources are:

  1. Soaking overnight
  2. Germinating (i.e. malting)
  3. Fermenting, specifically lactic acid fermentation

Although phytic acid may have good benefits for us (i.e. preventing digestive issues like kidney stones), it also prevents us from getting much needed nutrition that could cause us even more issues in the long run.  It is shown that this absorption issue is only present during the digestion of nuts, seeds, and grains and doesn’t affect later meals.  So, if you ate bread only or nuts only for a snack, it won’t prevent you from absorbing nutrients later in the day when you eat your next meal.  As a result, many nutritionists don’t worry about this bad side effect of nuts, seeds, and grains.  However, I’d like you to think about the last time you ate a meal without nuts, seeds, and grains.  I sure the hell have a hard time thinking of times when I didn’t eat a carbohydrate with my meal.  As a result, considering fermentation for flour based products, as in the case of sourdough, isn’t necessarily a bad idea.  It means that we can maintain our current eating habits, but still eat the nutrients we need.  It can also mean that we aren’t missing out on the nutrients contained in those nuts, seeds, and grains.  After all, they have more to offer than phytic acid.

Now I’m no doctor, so please consult your personal physician before making any dietary changes.



Reddy NR, Sathe SK, Salunkhe DK (1982). “Phytates in legumes and cereals.” Adv Food Res 28: 1–92. doi:10.1016/s0065-2628(08)60110-x

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