Mineral Inhibitor Phytic Acid In Nuts, Seeds, Grains, And Beans
Grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds contain a mineral inhibitor named phytic acid which clings to the minerals in your food and keeps your body from absorbing them. Remember that when you examine the packaging on your food and see large amounts of zinc, iron, calcium, or magnesium. You should know that you will not be able to benefit from the high mineral content unless you prepare your food with purpose.As luck would have it, however, there are straightforward kitchen processes that work to reduce phytic acid in your food. Soaking, fermenting, and sprouting are some of the most effective methods for reducing phytic acid in your food. If you use these techniques in your meal preparation, you may improve your absorption of minerals by anywhere from 50% to 400%, depending on the food itself.
For cooked breakfast cereal like a whole wheat porridge, you can soak the porridge in warm water over night (about body temperature) to reduce the the amount of phytic acid in the food. Use the same amount of water required by your recipe, warm it to body temperature, and combine the water with the grains the night before. In the morning cook the cereal as you normally would, but watch it carefully and stir it continuously — it will cook in just a few minutes. With your cooked cereal, not only will you absorb more minerals, you will also quicken the cooking time of your cereal.
Because bread batter does not always soak well, your best technique for bread is to ferment it with sourdough techniques. Common bread flours such as wheat and spelt do have phytic acid but, generally speaking, they contain an enzyme that breaks down the phytic acid while the bread rises. Even a yeast bread with one rise will break down the phytic acid content at some level. A sourdough preparation will be more effective still.
As far as beans are concerned, many people soak them anyway before cooking. To reduce phytic acid soak them the night before cooking them in in water warmed to above body temperature. When we soak beans, we start with a temperature of about 120 degrees and place the beans in a warm place. Of course, the water cools down over that period of time but as the beans absorb the water, add extra warm water to the beans. When you are ready to cook your beans, pour off the soaking water and add fresh water for cooking. Follow the instructions in your recipe and enjoy your bean dish.
You can also soak nuts and seeds, such as walnuts and almonds, to reduce the phytic acid levels, though the soaking will work better if you break the nuts into smaller pieces first. By breaking the nuts or seeds, you increase the surface area of the nut and the soaking is more effective. Soak them for twelve to eighteen hours, much like you would do the beans. Strain the water and then allow the nuts to dehydrate on a clean cookie sheet until they are crispy. You can dry the nuts in an oven with a pilot or in an oven set to low heat.
Techniques always tend to have notable exceptions and this case is no different: Soy, corn, and oats in particular do not respond well to the soaking strategies above. Each of these foods is low in the phytase enzyme that reduces the phytic acid. Soy must be made into tempeh or miso, fermented soy products, to see appreciable reduction in the phytic acid content. In terms of oats and corn, you can ferment them, but they also both improve with adding a complementary grain to the mix that is higher in the enzyme phytase such as fresh wheat or rye. Cornmeal is often used in recipes with wheat flour for instance. Use whole wheat flour, preferable ground fresh to leverage the phytase in the wheat to work against the phytic acid in the corn.
These foods, plant-based foods packed with minerals, can be especially nutritious, especially if you prepare them using methods that reduce their phytic acid. Adopt these techniques at home in your cooking to improve your health.
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