Saturday, March 20, 2010

Oats, Peas, Beans, and...Phytic Acid

Oats, Peas, Beans, and Barley Grow,
But better to soak them first. :)

Are you spending a lot of money on supplements to try and increase your mineral intake? I was until two months ago. I have been battling iron deficiency for years and relied on iron supplements to keep my levels up. Then I discovered I was probably wasting my money on supplements that my body was not even absorbing properly. Sally Fallon's book, Nourishing Traditions, has helped me realize the role that phytic acid plays in inhibiting mineral absorption. Phytates, or phytic acid, are responsible for inhibiting absorption of several essential minerals and is present in most nuts, grains, beans, and cereals. In addition, these foods have enzyme inhibitors that block the essential work of enzymes in breaking down all of our foods into absorbable forms. Usually, one can solve the problem by soaking these foods for 12 hours prior to cooking. The simple action of water neutralizes the phytates and enzyme inhibitors. The process is further aided if one adds probiotics or raises the pH by adding lemon juice to the water.
Now, I've made a new discovery about oatmeal and phytates. Amanda Rose, Ph.D. at has written a white paper on exactly how much phytic acid is present in a wide gamut of foods, and offers some very helpful kitchen techniques. Oatmeal, it turns out, is an exception to the rule. Soaking only reduces 30% of phytate levels in the oatmeal. So can you do about it?

The solution is adding 10% freshly ground wheat before soaking. Why? Wheat has phytase--an enzyme that breaks down phytates. See this link.

Unfortunately for gluten-sensitive people like me, this is not a good solution. However, Amanda also gives other solutions, such as eating a vitamin-C-rich food in that same meal.
There is also advice about corn and beans. Check it out.

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