Phytic acid, also known as phytates or inositol hexaphosphate (IP6), is found in certain foods such as grains (i.e. wheat, oats, rice), legumes, vegetables (i.e potatoes, beetroots, turnips, carrots) nuts, and seeds (i.e. walnuts, peanuts, pine nuts, almonds, sesame seeds). Phytic acids are often used commercially as a preservative due to their antioxidant properties.
Phytic acid has received a lot of attention lately because it impairs the absorption of iron, zinc, magnesium and calcium. It interferes with mineral absorption because humans lack the enzyme needed to break it down. For this reason, it is labelled an ‘anti-nutrient’. It is important to note that it will only interfere with mineral absorption of the meal that’s eaten with phytic acids, and it won’t impact other meals that you consume across the day.
Now, this is only of concern if you are someone who is at risk of these mineral deficiencies. Phytic acids aren’t all bad as they can help to protect your kidneys and reduce cell damage due to its antioxidant content.
Before eliminating all foods that contain Phytic acids from your diet, let’s discuss other ways that will still allow us to consume these delicious and nutritious foods. There are three simple methods that you can follow to reduce phytic acid content.
Soaking – soaking your food in water overnight has shown to reduce phytates content.
Fermenting - during the fermentation process, organic acids that naturally form are able to break down phytic acid.
Sprouting or boiling – sprouting can promote phytic acid degradation, thus reducing the phytate content.
Make sure you eat a well-balanced, wholefood diet and make use of the above methods in order to ensure your nutrient and mineral levels are at optimal status.