Phytic Acid, The Mineral Reducer + Almond Vanilla Breakfast Latte
Have you heard that soaking nuts, seeds, grains and legumes makes them more digestible? Did you just have a “Ain’t Nobody Got Time For Dat” kinda moment?
It is true soaking and sprouting your food before mowing down on it, is a process. It takes planning. It takes foresight. The real question is, is it really worth it?
Soaking or sprouting certain foods improves their digestibility and increases their nutrition by reducing something called phytic acid. However phytic acid is not all bad. Let’s touch on some of the goods and bads of having this guy in our foods so you can decide if you need to start soaking your nuts from now on ;)
WHAT THE HECK IS PHYTIC ACID ANYWAYS
Phytic acid is naturally occuring in most nuts, seeds, grains and legumes; it is the plant's storage form of the mineral phosphorus and is used as energy when the plant starts to grow.
The highest levels of phytic acid are found in rice bran, wheat bran, wheat germ, almonds, and walnuts.
PHYTIC ACID AND IT’S EFFECT ON MINERALS
Phytic acid is sometimes referred to as an “anti-nutrient”
It binds to the minerals iron, zinc, and calcium preventing them from being fully absorbed when eaten; this is why phytic acid is known as a "mineral reducer."
But the good news is phytic acid's effects only apply to mineral-containing foods in the meal they are eaten in. Once digested, there is no mineral reduction on any future foods and there is no impact to the minerals your body has already absorbed.
PHYTIC ACID’S HEALTH BENEFITS
Phytic acid isn’t all bad - it has some health benefits too.
It can act as an antioxidant, an important compound in cancer prevention and delaying the aging of our cells. Phytic acid can also help reduce your risk of kidney stones and heart disease.
Because it loves minerals (which are metals), phytic acid in your gut can also bind to any heavy metals (the ones we don't want too much of) that may have hitched a ride with your food.
HOW TO REDUCE PHYTIC ACID
For most people phytic acid shouldn't be a huge concern. Keeping some in your diet can be beneficial. This becomes a bigger concern for my vegetarian or vegan friends who’s main foods at most meals are nuts, seeds, grains, and legumes. Because many of these are nutritious foods, you probably don't want to cut all of them completely out of your diet.
Considering both the good and bad properties of phytic acid, you may still want to reduce how much you consume. Maybe you want to increase your mineral intake. If so, here are two popular methods to naturally reduce phytic acid:
Soaking - Place nuts, seeds, grains or legumes in a bowl, cover with water and leave overnight. Then drain the water and rinse before eating or preparing.
Sprouting - After soaking, draining, and rinsing, place damp nuts, seeds, grains or legumes into a container that's exposed to the air (like a mason jar with a mesh lid). Every 8 hours or so, re-rinse them and drain the water. Continue doing this for a few days until you see sprouts peeking out.
Why do soaking and sprouting help reduce phytic acid in certain foods? It is because being wet is a "sign" to leave their dormant (dry) state and start a new life. Enzymes activated during soaking and sprouting deactivate phytic acid to use its energy and stored minerals for the plant as it begins to grow.
Phytic acid has a bad rap as a mineral reducer. It's found in nuts, seeds, grains, and legumes. Yes, it most definitely prevents absorption of critical minerals like iron, zinc, and calcium, if they're in your gut at the same time. Phytic acid in food can become a health concern if you are deficient in these minerals, or if your diet is largely based on nuts, seeds, grains, and legumes.
But, if you eat a varied diet, then phytic acid shouldn’t be as much of a concern. In fact, phytic acid does have some health benefits.
If you want to reduce it in your food, you can soak or sprout your nuts, seeds, grains, and legumes.
ALMOND VANILLA BREAKFAST LATTE
¼ cup almonds, soaked overnight & rinsed
½ cup coconut milk
½ cup strong coffee, cold (or chai tea if you prefer)
½ banana, frozen
1 tsp vanilla extract
Add all ingredients to a blender and blend on high until almonds are smooth.
Add ice, if desired
Serve & enjoy!
Tip: By using soaked almonds, they tend to blend up smoother than hard and crunchy dry almonds do.