Tag Archives: beans

Phytic Acid-The Mineral Reducer

Bean Talk
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You may have heard of phytic acid as a “mineral reducer,” and this is very true. Eating raw nuts, seeds, grains, and legumes can prevent your body from absorbing some of the minerals from your food. 

But phytic acid has another side too.  It has some health benefits.

Do you soak or sprout your nuts, seeds, grains and legumes?

Is it to help improve their digestibility? To help increase their nutrition?

Perhaps, it’s to reduce phytic acid?

Phytic acid is naturally present 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 minerals

You may have heard of phytic acid being referred to as an “anti-nutrient”.

Phytic acid 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.”

FUN FACT: Phytic acid’s effects only apply to mineral-containing foods in the current meal. Once digested, there is no mineral reduction on any future meals 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. It can also help reduce your risk of kidney stones, heart disease, and even some cancers.

Because it loves minerals (which are metals), phytic acid in your gut can also bind to any heavy metals (the metals we don’t want too much of) that may have hitched a ride with your food.

How to reduce phytic acid

As you can see, phytic acid shouldn’t be a huge concern, unless your 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.

Tip on soaking beans. As a bean (legume) lover I prefer to make my bean dishes from “scratch”. Meaning, I purchase dry beans and soak them overnight in a bowl with plenty of water. This is key. In my experience, if the beans are above the water line when you check them in the morning the chances are they won’t soften during the cooking process. The beans have to be well covered with plenty of fresh water during the overnight soak which also speeds up the cooking process. I also believe everyone could benefit from eating more beans!!

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.

Conclusion

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.

Recipe (soaked almonds): Almond Vanilla Latte Smoothie

Serves 1

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.

References:

https://authoritynutrition.com/phytic-acid-101/

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-phytates-phytic-acid

https://authoritynutrition.com/how-to-reduce-antinutrients/

Disclaimer

The information contained herein is NOT intended as medical advice, nor is it intended to replace the care of a qualified health professional. Always consult your doctor for all diagnoses, treatments, and cures for any diseases or conditions, as well as before changing your health care regimen.

Celery, an overlooked vegetable

You probably haven’t given much thought to celery, an often overlooked vegetable.  But think again, this inexpensive vegetable is chock full of nutrients that pack a punch when it comes to our health.  Let me tell you about a few of those health benefits, some that may surprise you:

  • Low calorie, no surprise here and well, we can all use that
  • High fibre, exercise for our digestive tract
  • Excellent source of a wide range of antioxidants including Vitamin C, Beta Carotene, Manganese-we need that to keep that nasty oxidative stress at bay so our cells stay healthy
  • Antioxidant phytonutrients-these babies protect against inflammation, a well known marker for a number of disease states
  • Phytochemicals that are thought to help lower blood pressure by relaxing blood vessels
  • High in Vitamin K-important for blood clotting and bone health
  • Low on the Glycemic index/load factor meaning no spikes in blood sugar

We mostly think of celery as cut up and eaten raw with dips, peanut butter or cheese (no cheese whiz please!), but did you know that celery lends itself well to being cooked just like the one from my favourite cooking mag fine cooking.  I hope you will give it a try and if Beluga lentils seem a little exotic or hard to find any brown lentil will do.  I personally love puy lentils (also known as French lentils) they hold their shape beautifully and taste great. Enjoy.

http://www.finecooking.com/recipes/caramelized-celery-lentils.aspx

Important small print you must read:
Disclaimer
The information contained herein is NOT intended as medical advice, nor is it intended to replace the care of a qualified health professional. Always consult your doctor for all diagnoses, treatments, and cures for any diseases or conditions, as well as before changing your health care regimen.

My life long adventure with food

My eating habits went off the rails when I moved to Canada back in the early 80’s.  Growing up in London in a Greek/Cypriot household meant eating mostly beans, lentils, grains, fruits and vegetables. Of course, there was always olive oil and full-fat plain yoghurt.  This style of eating, labeled the  Mediterranean Diet now, has been sanctioned by some and damned by others as is the norm when it comes to the most confusing world of  nutrition research.

Meat was a luxury, too expensive to eat on a regular basis for a large family with 5 kids.  Apparently the same was said about lettuce.  Let me explain.  My dad was the salad maker in the house and pretty much every day we ate salad with our evening meal.  This salad consisted of very thinly diced green cabbage, cucumbers, tomatoes, celery and cilantro.  The dressing was olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.

Growing  up in London and having British friends, I noticed that their salads were made with lettuce, well maybe a leaf or two not quite enough to call it a salad but you get the idea.  I was curious, so I asked my dad why he didn’t use lettuce in the salad he made for us.  He said in his thick Greek accent, “too expensive for big salad” .

I left it at that but continued the tradition and have since been delighted to learn about the incredible health benefits of the under appreciated cabbage.  I have expanded my repertoire since then and included all varieties of cabbage prepared in numerous and delicious ways.  Just for the record, I also use lettuce  when I make a salad.

Which brings me back to how my diet went off the rails when I moved to Canada.  Believe it or not finding olive oil was next to impossible.  I was used to my parents buying it in huge jugs or lugging these giant containers of olive oil on the plane when we returned from family visits in Cyprus. All I could find was a tiny bottle in some obscure section of  the grocery store and as for plain yoghurt, that was a lost cause.

Dried beans were also hard to find, canned just wasn’t going to do, the sodium content was through the roof so I settled on dried lentils as they were more readily available. (More about my love affair with beans later).

As it goes with most things, I adapted to the changes and found myself eating more fast foods that were quite alien to me, which was burgers, pizza and fried chicken.  Portions seemed so much bigger and fast food restaurants appeared to be on every corner and being young and broke I fell into a dangerous pattern.

Thankfully this was short lived, I rebelled and went back to my old ways of cooking. The kind I learned at home in the family kitchen in London and Cyprus. I realized that real, good food is simple; it does not contain preservatives, chemical dyes, fillers or additives.

My decision to pursue studies in Natural Nutrition and its impact on human health was born out of my passion for food and my own personal experiences of the power of healthy eating.

Now, my goal is to share my knowledge with others, about how to make the most of beautiful, simple foods and reap all the tremendous benefits they provide to the body, mind and soul.