Understanding the anti-nutrient Phytic acid

By Roy Kim, Jul 02 2014

For every food that is praised, there is someone out there demonizing it. Whole grains, nuts, seeds and legumes are considered by many as healthy and nutritious. On the other hand, they are also being criticized for containing the anti-nutrient Phytic acid. In this article, I want to talk about what Phytic acid does that can be bad as well as what makes Phytic acid good.

Phytic acid is considered an anti-nutrient. Anti-nutrients are compounds that interfere with the absorption and utilization of nutrients and minerals. Phytic acid binds to minerals such as zinc, iron, calcium and magnesium and prevent them from being absorbed by the body. Despite this, the amount of these minerals we consume is probably much larger than the amount the Phytic acid is blocking from absorption meaning most of us are still getting enough.

There are still certain groups of people that should be worried about having a deficiency of these minerals and nutrients. Vegetarians should be more conscious of their intake because animal proteins are rich source of these essential minerals and nutrients. Vegetarians may want to increase their intake of minerals and nutrients the Phytic acid is blocking or possibly avoid consuming foods high in Phytic acid and rich in minerals at the same time. This also applies to those in developing countries that rely heavily on foods high in Phytic acid for their nutritional needs.

Phytic acid has also been known to do some good as well. Phytic acid has been known to lower cholesterol levels. It has been known to act as an antioxidant. Phytic acid has been associated with keeping blood sugar levels stable as well as reducing the risk of certain cancers. So at the end of the day, and I will probably say this about most things, you need to find a balance. There is a good side and a bad side to just about everything. We just need to know how they all work and make the right choices.

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