Everything You Need to Know About Phytic Acid
Phytic acid in plant seeds may affect mineral absorption

Phytic acid is a special natural substance found in tree seeds.

This substance has received people's attention because of its effects on mineral absorption.

Phytic acid reduces the absorption of iron, zinc and calcium, thereby causing mineral deficiency .

So this is often called .

However, the problem seems a bit more complicated, because phytic acid also has some health benefits.

This article will give a detailed look at phytic acid and its impact on general health.

What is phytic acid?

Phytic acid, or phytate, is found in tree seeds. It is the main form of phosphorus storage in seeds.

When seeds germinate, phytate is broken down and phosphorus is released for young plants to use.

Phytic acid is also called inositol hexaphosphate, or IP6.

This substance is often used as a preservative in products on the market due to its antioxidant properties.

Conclude: Phytic acid is found in plant seeds. This substance is a major form of storage of phosphorus in seeds.

Phytic acid in food

Phytic acid is found only in foods of plant origin.

All kinds of edible nuts, cereals, pea's tree , and nuts contain phytic acid in varying amounts, and small amounts are also found in roots and tubers.

The table below is some foods with high phytate content, according to the percentage of dry weight :

Food Phytic acid
Almond 0.4 - 9.4%
Common beans 0.6 - 2.4%
Beans Brazil 0.3 - 6.3%
Chestnut 0.2 - 0.9%
Lentils 0.3 - 1.5%
Wu 0.7 - 2.2%
Peanut 0.2 - 4.5%
Peas 0.2 - 1.2%
Rice 0.1 - 1.1%
Rice bran 2.6 - 8.7%
Sesame seeds 1.4 - 5.4%
Soy bean 1.0 - 2.2%
Tofu 0.1 - 2.9%
Walnut 0.2 - 6.7%
Wheat 0.4 - 1.4%
Wheat bran 2.1 - 7.3%
Wheat germ 1.1 - 3.9%

As you can see, the content of phytic acid in a food is very unstable. For example, the content in almonds can vary up to 20 times.

Conclude: Phytic acid is found in all tree seeds, nuts, beans and cereals. The content contained in these foods is very different.

Phytic acid reduces mineral absorption

Everything You Need to Know About Phytic Acid
If you have a balanced diet, phytic acid is rarely harmful

Phytic acid reduces the absorption of iron, zinc, and calcium to a lesser extent .

This condition occurs only during a meal, not with the absorption of the overall nutrient throughout the day.

In other words, phytic acid reduces the ability to absorb minerals in meals, but have no effect on the next meal.

For example, snack nuts between meals can reduce the amount of iron, zinc and calcium you absorb from those grains, not affect the meal in the next few hours.

However, when you eat foods high in phytate during most meals, mineral deficiencies can develop over time.

In a balanced diet, this substance rarely becomes a concern, but it can be a serious problem for malnourished people, and in developing countries, where the main source of food is cereals. or legumes.

Conclude: Phytic acid reduces iron, zinc and calcium absorption. This substance can contribute to mineral deficiencies over time, but this rarely becomes serious when you have a balanced diet.

How to reduce the amount of phytic acid in food?

Avoiding eating all phytic acid foods is a bad idea, because many of them (like almonds) are very nutritious, healthy and delicious.

In addition, in many developing countries, food is scarce and people rely on cereals and legumes as their staple food.

Everything You Need to Know About Phytic Acid
The process helps to reduce or eliminate phytic acid

Fortunately, some processing methods can significantly reduce phytic acid content in foods.

These are the most commonly used methods:

  • Soak: Cereals and legumes are often soaked in water overnight to reduce phytate content .
  • Germination: germination of seeds, grains and legumes reduces phytate content .
  • Ferment: The organic acids formed during fermentation will promote the decomposition of phytate. Lactic acid fermentation is a popular method, including the method of making .

The combination of these methods can significantly reduce phytate content.

For example, lactic acid immersion, germination and fermentation can reduce up to 98% of the internal phytic acid content quinoa seeds .

In addition, seed germination and lactic acid fermentation in white and corn sorghum can almost completely eliminate phytic acid .

Some methods like immersion, germination and fermentation, can be used to reduce the amount of phytic acid in food.

Health benefits of phytic acid

Everything You Need to Know About Phytic Acid
Phytic acid helps fight kidney stones and cancer

Phytic acid is a good example of a nutrient that is both beneficial and harmful depending on the circumstances.

In addition to the antioxidant properties , phytic acid can fight kidney stones and cancer .

There are also suggestions that phytic acid may be one of the reasons why whole grains can help reduce the risk of colon cancer .

Conclude: Phytic acid has some positive health effects such as against kidney stones and cancer.

Is phytic acid a concern in modern diets?

The short answer is no.

However, people at risk of mineral deficiency should diversify their diet and not eat foods high in phytate at all meals.

Everything You Need to Know About Phytic Acid
Phytic acid may be a threat to vegetarians

This is especially important for people who are iron deficient .

Vegetarians, especially vegans, are also at risk of mineral deficiency if they eat phytic acid foods .

The problem is that there are two types of iron in food: heme iron and non-heme iron.

Heme iron is found in animal-based foods, such as meat, while non-heme iron comes from plants.

Non-heme iron from plant foods is often poorly absorbed, while absorption of heme iron is very easy. Non-heme iron is also heavily influenced by phytic acid, whereas heme iron is not .

In addition, even with phytic acid, zinc in meat is still well absorbed .

Therefore, lack of minerals due to phytic acid rarely occurs in meat eaters.

However, phytic acid can be a serious problem when your diet mostly consists of foods with high levels of phytate and low levels of meat or other animal-derived foods.

This problem has become a particular concern in many developing countries, where whole grains and legumes make up a large part of the diet.

Conclude: Phytic acid is often not a concern in industrialized countries because these countries have a very diverse food source. However, vegetarians / vegans and people who eat a lot of foods with high levels of phytate may be at risk of mineral deficiencies.

Things to remember

Phytate-rich foods like cereals, nuts and beans, may increase the risk of iron and zinc deficiency.

Some of the measures commonly used to reduce phytic acid intake are immersion, germination and fermentation.

For people who eat meat regularly, the problem of mineral deficiency due to phytic acid is not worrying.

In fact, consuming some foods high in phytate in a well-balanced diet is really beneficial.

In many cases, these benefits outweigh any negative effects on mineral absorption that phytic acid causes.