Phytates are also known as phytic acid, which is the stored form of phosphorus. These are anti-nutrients found in cereals, grains, millets, seeds, nuts, and unprocessed whole grains in their outer layer or bran. Phytates are primarily limited to the outer bran layer of whole grains, but in legumes, they are spread all over, inside-out.
Phytate is the primary phosphorus storage form in legumes, cereals, nuts, and seeds. In fact, phytic acid is also found in fruits, roots, tubers, and berries, though in lower concentrations (research paper). In cereals, the endosperm is rich in protein and starch and devoid of phytate, which is concentrated in the germ.
Research claims that monogastric animals like humans lack sufficient amounts of phytate-degrading enzymes. Therefore, phytate is termed anti-nutritional, as it makes the bioavailability of essential dietary minerals tough. Sadly, this often results in mineral deficiencies in vulnerable populations.
Eating anti-nutrient-rich meals will only result in nutritional deficiencies.
Let's explore the following questions
- Are oats high in phytates?
- Are oats bad for you because of phytic acid?
- Does cooking oats remove phytates?
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Does cooking destroy phytates?
Soaking overnight, sprouting, fermentation, cooking, and pickling can break down phytates. This helps release phosphorus, which further aids in its absorption.
- Milling is the most common method to remove phytate from cereals. It removes major parts of minerals and dietary fibers.
- Soaking helps in the germination and fermentation of cereals. Soaking destroys anti-nutrients and activates protease enzyme, which is digestive in nature. Soaking oats for 12 hours eliminates 60% of phytic acid, according to the Journal of nutrition science and vitaminology.
- Lactobaciliiuis bacteria (probiotics) break down phytate by forming organic acids, according to the journal. (fermenting).
- Soaking oats in an acid solution with water and acv or lime juice or whey can help negate the side effects of phytic acid.
The endosperm is the edible tissue in seeds, which stores nutrients, including protein, starch, and oil. The nutrients are required for the development of the embryo and during germination.
Are oats high in phytates?
Since phytate is the main storage form of phosphorus in the bran and seeds of plants, it can bind to metals and form complexes, reducing their bioavailability in the GI tract. The anti-nutrient phytate in oats also behaves the same way.
Phytate forms insoluble complexes with mineral cations, thus reducing the bioavailability of magnesium, iron, and zinc. Besides, phytic acid is responsible for taking on an indigestible form with proteins, thus inhibiting digestive enzymes (phytase) and impairing the absorption of minerals.
Does oatmeal block iron absorption?
Yes. Although oats is rich in iron, it has a lot of phytic acid that blocks the absorption of non-heme iron. As a result, your body cannot abrobiron in oats. That means even if you eat a whole bowl of oats packed with iron, you may not get any benefits.
But there's a way to prevent that.
You must soak oats in an acidic solution to neutralize the effects of phytic acid that binds to minerals like iron and destroys their benefits.
How to reduce phytate in oats? How do you remove phytates from oats?
Germination and sprouting are the most well-accepted ways to increase phytase activity in grains and reduce phytates. Research finds that phytate in oat seeds reduced from 0.35% to 0.11% during germination. Besides, there was an increase in phytase activity during the germination process (Tian et al., 2010; Larsson and Sandberg, 1992).
The window of time given by researchers for germination of oats to reduce phytic acid was 17 hours.
The research finds an increase in iron and zinc uptake after the germination of oats, which significantly reduced the anti-nutritional properties of phytates.
Since phytates are the storage form of phosphorus in whole grains and nuts, they can bind to magnesium in your gastrointestinal tract. What does that do? That makes you magnesium deficient.
To reduce the anti-nutrient effects of phytates, soaking, sprouting, fermentation, and cooking plant foods can help. Cooking can offset phystic acid and help improve mineral absorption.
Besides, you should combine your meals with vitamin C rich foods to reduce the effect of phyattes.
What's more, you may use vinegar in salad dressing.