Living With Phytic Acid

Preparing Grains, Nuts, Seeds and Beans for Maximum Nutrition

Phytic acid in grains, nuts, seeds and beans represents a serious problem in our diets. This problem exists because we have lost touch with our ancestral heritage of food preparation. Instead we listen to food gurus and ivory tower theorists who promote the consumption of raw and unprocessed “whole foods;” or, we eat a lot of high-phytate foods like commercial whole wheat bread and all-bran breakfast cereals. But raw is definitely not Nature’s way for grains, nuts, seeds and beans. . . and even some tubers, like yams; nor are quick cooking or rapid heat processes like extrusion.

Phytic acid is the principal storage form of phosphorus in many plant tissues, especially the bran portion of grains and other seeds. It contains the mineral phosphorus tightly bound in a snowflake-like molecule. In humans and animals with one stomach, the phosphorus is not readily bioavailable. In addition to blocking phosphorus availability, the “arms” of the phytic acid molecule readily bind with other minerals, such as calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc, making them unavailable as well. In this form, the compound is referred to as phytate.

Phytic acid not only grabs on to or chelates important minerals, but also inhibits enzymes that we need to digest our food, including pepsin,1 needed for the breakdown of proteins in the stomach, and amylase,2 needed for the breakdown of starch into sugar. Trypsin, needed for protein digestion in the small intestine, is also inhibited by phytates.3

Through observation I have witnessed the powerful anti-nutritional effects of a diet high in phytate-rich grains on my family members, with many health problems as a result, including tooth decay, nutrient deficiencies, lack of appetite and digestive problems.

The presence of phytic acid in so many enjoyable foods we regularly consume makes it imperative that we know how to prepare these foods to neutralize phytic acid content as much as possible, and also to consume them in the context of a diet containing factors that mitigate the harmful effects of phytic acid.


Six-sided phytic acid molecule with a phosphorus atom in each arm.


Phytic acid is present in beans, seeds, nuts, grains—especially in the bran or outer hull; phytates are also found in tubers, and trace amounts occur in certain fruits and vegetables like berries and green beans. Up to 80 percent of the phosphorus—a vital mineral for bones and health—present in grains is locked into an unusable form as phytate.4 When a diet including more than small amounts of phytate is consumed, the body will bind calcium to phytic acid and form insoluble phytate complexes. The net result is you lose calcium, and don’t absorb phosphorus. Further, research suggests that we will absorb approximately 20 percent more zinc and 60 percent magnesium from our food when phytate is absent.5

The amount of phytate in grains, nuts, legumes and seeds is highly variable; the levels that researchers find when they analyze a specific food probably depends on growing conditions, harvesting techniques, processing methods, testing methods and even the age of the food being tested. Phytic acid will be much higher in foods grown using modern high-phosphate fertilizers than those grown in natural compost.6

Seeds and bran are the highest sources of phytates, containing as much as two to five times more phytate than even some varieties of soybeans, which we know are highly indigestible unless fermented for long periods. Remember the oat bran fad? The advice to eat bran, or high fiber foods containing different types of bran, is a recipe for severe bone loss and intestinal problems due to the high phytic acid content. Raw unfermented cocoa beans and normal cocoa powder are extremely high in phytates. Processed chocolates may also contain phytates. White chocolate or cocoa butter probably does not contain phytates. More evidence is needed as to phytate content of prepared chocolates and white chocolate. Coffee beans also contain phytic acid. The chart in Figure 1 shows the variability of phytate levels in various common foods as a percentage of dry weight. Phytate levels in terms of milligrams per hundred grams are shown in Figure 2.


High-phytate diets result in mineral deficiencies. In populations where cereal grains provide a major source of calories, rickets and osteoporosis are common.10

Interestingly, the body has some ability to adapt to the effects of phytates in the diet. Several studies show that subjects given high levels of whole wheat at first excrete more calcium than they take in, but after several weeks on this diet, they reach a balance and do not excrete excess calcium.11 However, no studies of this phenomenon have been carried out over a long period; nor have researchers looked at whether human beings can adjust to the phytate-reducing effects of other important minerals, such as iron, magnesium and zinc.

The zinc- and iron-blocking effects of phytic acid can be just as serious as the calcium-blocking effects. For example, one study showed that a wheat roll containing 2 mg phytic acid inhibited zinc absorption by 18 percent; 25 mg phytic acid in the roll inhibited zinc absorption by 64 percent; and 250 mg inhibited zinc absorption by 82 percent.12 Nuts have a marked inhibitory action on the absorption of iron due to their phytic acid content.13

Over the long term, when the diet lacks minerals or contains high levels of phytates or both, the metabolism goes down, and the body goes into mineral-starvation mode. The body then sets itself up to use as little of these minerals as possible. Adults may get by for decades on a high-phytate diet, but growing children run into severe problems. In a phytate-rich diet, their bodies will suffer from the lack of calcium and phosphorus with poor bone growth, short stature, rickets, narrow jaws and tooth decay; and for the lack of zinc and iron with anemia and mental retardation.


As early as 1949, the researcher Edward Mellanby demonstrated the demineralizing effects of phytic acid. By studying how grains with and without phytic acid affect dogs, Mellanby discovered that consumption of high-phytate cereal grain interferes with bone growth and interrupts vitamin D metabolism. High levels of phytic acid in the context of a diet low in calcium and vitamin D resulted in rickets and a severe lack of bone formation.

His studies showed that excessive phytate consumption uses up vitamin D. Vitamin D can mitigate the harmful effects of phytates, but according to Mellanby, “When the diet is rich in phytate, perfect bone formation can only be procured if sufficient calcium is added to a diet containing vitamin D.”20

Mellanby’s studies showed that the rickets-producing effect of oatmeal is limited by calcium.21 Calcium salts such as calcium carbonate or calcium phosphate prevent oatmeal from exerting rickets-producing effect. According to this view, the degree of active interference with calcification produced by a given cereal will depend on how much phytic acid and how little calcium it contains, or how little calcium the diet contains. Phosphorus in the diet (at least from grains) needs some type of calcium to bind to. This explains the synergistic combination of sourdough bread with cheese. Historically, the cultivation of grains usually accompanies the raising of dairy animals; high levels of calcium in the diet mitigates the mineral-depleting effects of phytic acid.

In Mellanby’s experiments with dogs, increasing vitamin D made stronger bones regardless of the diet, but this increase did not have a significant impact on the amount of calcium excreted. Those on diets high in phytate excreted lots of calcium; those on diets high in phosphorus from meat or released from phytic acid through proper preparation excreted small amounts of calcium.

Based on Mellanby’s thorough experiments, one can conclude that the growth of healthy bones requires a diet high in vitamin D, absorbable calcium and absorbable phosphorus, and a diet low in unabsorbable calcium (supplements, pasteurized dairy) and unabsorbable phosphorus (phytates). Interestingly, his experiments showed that unbleached flour and white rice were less anti-calcifying than whole grains that contain more minerals but also were higher in phytic acid. Other experiments have shown that while whole grains contain more minerals, in the end equal or lower amounts of minerals are absorbed compared to polished rice and white flour. This outcome is primarily a result of the blocking mechanism of phytic acid, but may be secondarily the result of other anti-nutrients in grains.

Thus, absorbable calcium from bone broths and raw dairy products, and vitamin D from certain animal fats, can reduce the adverse effects of phytic acid.

Other studies show that adding ascorbic acid can significantly counteract inhibition of iron assimilation by phytic acid.22 Adding ascorbic acid significantly counteracted phytate inhibition from phytic acid in wheat.23 One study showed that anti-iron phytate levels in rice were disabled by vitamin C in collard greens.24

Research published in 2000 indicates that both vitamin A and beta-carotene form a complex with iron, keeping it soluble and preventing the inhibitory effect of phytates on iron absorption.25 Here we have another reason to consume phytate-rich foods in the context of a diet containing organ meat and animal fats rich in vitamin A, and fruits and vegetables rich in carotenes.


Phytase is the enzyme that neutralizes phytic acid and liberates the phosphorus. This enzyme co-exists in plant foods that contain phytic acid.

Ruminant animals such as cows, sheep and goats have no trouble with phytic acid because phytase is produced by rumen microorganisms; monogastric animals also produce phytase, although far less. Mice produce thirty times more phytase than humans,26 so they can be quite happy eating a raw whole grain. Data from experiments on phytic acid using mice and other rodents cannot be applied to humans.

In general, humans do not produce enough phytase to safely consume large quantities of high-phytate foods on a regular basis. However, probiotic lactobacilli, and other species of the endogenous digestive microflora can produce phytase.27 Thus, humans who have good intestinal flora will have an easier time with foods containing phytic acid. Increased production of phytase by the gut microflora explains why some volunteers can adjust to a high-phytate diet. Sprouting activates phytase, thus reducing phytic acid.28 The use of sprouted grains will reduce the quantity of phytic acids in animal feed, with no significant reduction of nutritional value.29

Soaking grains and flour in an acid medium at very warm temperatures, as in the sourdough process, also activates phytase and reduces or even eliminates phytic acid.

Before the advent of industrial agriculture, farmers typically soaked crushed grain in hot water before feeding it to poultry and hogs. Today, feed manufacturers add phytase to grain mixes to get better growth in animals. Commercial phytases are typically produced using recombinant DNA technology. For example, a bacterial phytase gene has recently been inserted into yeast for commercial production.

Not all grains contain enough phytase to eliminate the phytate, even when properly prepared. For example, corn, millet, oats and brown rice do not contain sufficient phytase to eliminate all the phytic acid they contain. On the other hand, wheat and rye contain high levels of phytase—wheat contains fourteen times more phytase than rice and rye contains over twice as much phytase as wheat.30 Soaking or souring these grains, when freshly ground, in a warm environment will destroy all phytic acid. The high levels of phytase in rye explain why this grain is preferred as a starter for sourdough breads.

Phytase is destroyed by steam heat at about 176 degrees Fahrenheit in ten minutes or less. In a wet solution, phytase is destroyed at 131-149 degrees Fahrenheit.31 Thus heat processing, as in extrusion, will completely destroy phytase—think of extruded all-bran cereal, very high in phytic acid and all of its phytase destroyed by processing. Extruded cereals made of bran and whole grains are a recipe for digestive problems and mineral deficiencies!

Phytase is present in small amounts in oats, but heat treating to produce commercial oatmeal renders it inactive. Even grinding a grain too quickly or at too high a temperature will destroy phytase, as will freezing and long storage times. Fresh flour has a higher content of phytase than does flour that has been stored.32 Traditional cultures generally grind their grain fresh before preparation. Weston Price found that mice fed whole grain flours that were not freshly ground did not grow properly.33

Cooking is not enough to reduce phytic acid—acid soaking before cooking is needed to activate phytase and let it do its work. For example, the elimination of phytic acid in quinoa requires fermenting or germinating plus cooking (see Figure 3). In general, a combination of acidic soaking for considerable time and then cooking will reduce a significant portion of phytate in grains and legumes.


It appears that once the phytate level has been reduced, such that there is more available phosphorus than phytate in the grain, we have passed a critical point and the food becomes more beneficial than harmful. Retention of phosphorus decreases when phytate in the diet is 30-40 percent or more of the total phosphorus.35

For best health, phytates should be lowered as much as possible, ideally to 25 milligrams or less per 100 grams or to about .03 percent of the phytate-containing food eaten. At this level, micronutrient losses are minimized. (For phytate content of common foods as a percentage of dry weight, see Figures 4 and 5.)

White rice and white bread are low-phytate foods because their bran and germ have been removed; of course, they are also devitalized and empty of vitamins and minerals. But the low phytate content of refined carbohydrate foods may explain why someone whose family eats white flour or white rice food products may seem to be relatively healthy and immune to tooth cavities while those eating whole wheat bread and brown rice could suffer from cavities, bone loss and other health problems.


Beer home brewers know that in order to make beer, they need malted (sprouted) grains. Soaking and germinating grains is a good idea, but it does not eliminate phytic acid completely. Significant amounts of phytic acid will remain in most sprouted grain products. For example, malting reduces wheat, barley or green gram phytic acid by 57 percent. However, malting reduces anti-nutrients more than roasting.36 In another experiment, malting millet also resulted in a decrease of 23.9 percent phytic acid after 72 hours and 45.3 percent after 96 hours.37

In legumes, sprouting is the most effective way to reduce phytic acid, but this process does not get rid of all of it. Germinating peanuts led to a 25 percent reduction in phytates. After five days of sprouting, chick peas maintained about 60 percent of their phytate content and lentils retained about 50 percent of their original phytic acid content. Sprouting and boiling pigeon pea and bambara groudnut reduced phytic acid by 56 percent.38 Germinating black eyed beans resulted in 75 percent removal of phytate after five days sprouting.

Germination is more effective at higher temperatures, probably because the heat encourages a fermentation-like condition. For pearled millet, sprouting at 92 degrees F for a minimum of 48 hours removed 92 percent of the phytate. At 82 degrees F, even after 60 hours, only 50 percent of phytic acid was removed. Higher temperatures above 86 degrees F seem less ideal for phytate removal, at least for millet.39

Sprouting releases vitamins and makes grains and beans and seeds more digestible. However it is a pre-fermentation step, not a complete process for neutralizing phytic acid. Consuming grains regularly that are only sprouted will lead to excess intake of phytic acid. Sprouted grains should also be soaked and cooked.


Roasting wheat, barley or green gram reduces phytic acid by about 40 percent.40 If you subsequently soak roasted grains, you should do so with a culture that supplies additional phytase, as phytase will be destroyed by the roasting process.


For grains and legumes that are low in phytase, soaking does not usually sufficiently eliminate phytic acid. Soaking of millet, soya bean, maize, sorghum, and mung bean at 92 degrees F for 24 hours decreased the contents of phytic acid by 4–51 percent.43 With these same grains and beans, soaking at room temperature for 24 hours reduced phytic acid levels by 16–21 percent.44 However, soaking of pounded maize for one hour at room temperature already led to a reduction of phytic acid by 51 percent.45

Sourdough fermentation of grains containing high levels of phytase—such as wheat and rye—is the process that works best for phytate reduction. Sourdough fermentation of whole wheat flour for just four hours at 92 degrees F led to a 60 percent reduction in phytic acid. Phytic acid content of the bran samples was reduced to 44.9 percent after eight hours at 92 degrees F.46 The addition of malted grains and bakers yeast increased this reduction to 92-98 percent. Another study showed almost complete elimination of phytic acid in whole wheat bread after eight hours of sourdough fermentation (See Figure 6).47

A study of phytates in recipes used typically by home bread bakers found that leavening with commercial yeast was much less effective at removing phytates. Yeasted whole wheat breads lost only 22-58 percent of their phytic acid content from the start of the bread making process to the complete loaf.48


The purpose of this article is not to make you afraid of foods containing phytic acid, only to urge caution in including grains, nuts and legumes into your diet. It is not necessary to completely eliminate phytic acid from the diet, only to keep it to acceptable levels.

An excess of 800 mg phytic acid per day is probably not a good idea. The average phytate intake in the U.S. and the U.K. ranges between 631 and 746 mg per day; the average in Finland is 370 mg; in Italy it is 219 mg; and in Sweden a mere 180 mg per day.49

In the context of a diet rich in calcium, vitamin D, vitamin A, vitamin C, good fats and lacto-fermented foods, most people will do fine on an estimated 400-800 mg per day. For those suffering from tooth decay, bone loss or mineral deficiencies, total estimated phytate content of 150-400 mg would be advised. For children under age six, pregnant women or those with serious illnesses, it is best to consume a diet as low in phytic acid as possible.

In practical terms, this means properly preparing phytate-rich foods to reduce at least a portion of the phytate content, and restricting their consumption to two or three servings per day. Daily consumption of one or two slices of genuine sourdough bread, a handful of nuts, and one serving of properly prepared oatmeal, pancakes, brown rice or beans should not pose any problems in the context of a nutrient-dense diet. Problems arise when whole grains and beans become the major dietary sources of calories— when every meal contains more than one whole grain product or when over-reliance is placed on nuts or legumes. Unfermented soy products, extruded whole grain cereals, rice cakes, baked granola, raw muesli and other high-phytate foods should be strictly avoided.


Brown rice is high in phytates. One reference puts phytate content at 1.6 percent of dry weight, another at 1250 mg per 100 grams dry weight (probably about 400 mg per 100 grams cooked rice). Soaking brown rice will not effectively eliminate phytates because brown rice lacks the enzyme phytase; it thus requires a starter. Nevertheless, even an eight-hour soak will eliminate some of the phytic acid, reducing the amount in a serving to something like 300 mg or less.

The ideal preparation of rice would start with home-milling, to remove a portion of the bran, and then would involve souring at a very warm temperature (90 degrees F) at least sixteen hours, preferably twenty-four hours. Using a starter would be ideal (see sidebar recipe). For those with less time, purchase brown rice in air-tight packages. Soak rice for at least eight hours in hot water plus a little fresh whey, lemon juice or vinegar. If you soak in a tightly closed mason jar, the rice will stay warm as it generates heat. Drain, rinse and cook in broth and butter.


In general, nuts contain levels of phytic acid equal to or higher than those of grains. Therefore those consuming peanut butter, nut butters or nut flours, will take in phytate levels similar to those in unsoaked grains. Unfortunately, we have very little information on phytate reduction in nuts. Soaking for seven hours likely eliminates some phytate. Based on the accumulation of evidence, soaking nuts for eighteen hours, dehydrating at very low temperatures—a warm oven—and then roasting or cooking the nuts would likely eliminate a large portion of phytates.

Nut consumption becomes problematic in situations where people on the GAPS diet and similar regimes are consuming lots of almonds and other nuts as a replacement for bread, potatoes and rice. The eighteen-hour soaking is highly recommended in these circumstances.

It is best to avoid nut butters unless they have been made with soaked nuts—these are now available commercially. Likewise, it is best not to use nut flours—and also coconut flour—for cooking unless they have been soured by the soaking process.

It is instructive to look at Native American preparation techniques for the hickory nut, which they used for oils. To extract the oil they parched the nuts until they cracked to pieces and then pounded them until they were as fine as coffee grounds. They were then put into boiling water and boiled for an hour or longer, until they cooked down to a kind of soup from which the oil was strained out through a cloth. The rest was thrown away. The oil could be used at once or poured into a vessel where it would keep a long time.50

By contrast, the Indians of California consumed acorn meal after a long period of soaking and rinsing, then pounding and cooking. Nuts and seeds in Central America were prepared by salt water soaking and dehydration in the sun, after which they were ground and cooked.


All beans contain phytic acid and traditional cultures usually subjected legumes to a long preparation process. For example, according to one source, “Lima beans in Nigeria involve several painstaking processes to be consumed as a staple.”51 In central America, beans are made into a sour porridge called chugo, which ferments for several days.

The best way of reducing phytates in beans is sprouting for several days, followed by cooking. An eighteen-hour fermention of beans without a starter at 95 degrees F resulted in 50 percent phytate reduction.52 Lentils fermented for 96 hours at 108 degrees F resulted in 70-75 percent phytate destruction.53 Lentils soaked for 12 hours, germinated 3-4 days and then soured will likely completely eliminate phytates.

Soaking beans at moderate temperatures, such as for 12 hours at 78 degrees F results in an 8-20 percent reduction in phytates.54

When legumes comprise a large portion of the diet, one needs to go to extra steps to make beans healthy to eat. Beans should usually have hull and bran removed. Adding a phytase-rich medium to beans would help eliminate the phytic acid in beans. Adding yeast, or effective micororganisms, or kombu seaweed may greatly enhance the predigestive process of the beans. One website suggests using a starter containing effective microorganisms and cultured molasses for soaking beans.55

At a minimum, beans should be soaked for twelve hours, drained and rinsed several times before cooking, for a total of thirty-six hours. Cooking with a handful of green weed leaves, such as dandelion or chickweed, can improve mineral assimilation.


Sweet potatoes and potatoes contain little phytic acid but yams and other starchy staples contain levels of phytate that we cannot ignore. The phytic acid content of arrowroot is unknown, but it may contain a significant amount.56 These foods should be fermented—as they usually are in traditional cultures—if they are a staple in the diet. For occasional eating, cooking well and consuming with plenty of butter and vitamin C-rich foods should suffice.


Bread can only be called the staff of life if it has undergone careful preparation; otherwise bread can be the road to an early grave. For starters, the flour used in bread should be stone ground. Wheat and rye contain high levels of phytase, but this is destroyed by the heat of industrial grinding, and also lessens over time. Fresh grinding of wheat or rye berries before use will ensure that the original amount of phytase remains in the flour.

Rye has the highest level of phytase in relation to phytates of any grain, so rye is the perfect grain to use as a sourdough starter. Phytates in wheat are greatly reduced during sourdough preparation, as wheat is also high in phytase. Yeast rising bread may not fully reduce phytic acid levels.57 Phytate breakdown is significantly higher in sourdough bread than in yeasted bread.58

Yet even with the highly fermentable rye, a traditional ancient recipe from the French calls for removal of 25 percent of the bran and coarse substances.59 As an example of this practice, one small bakery in Canada sifts the coarse bran out of the flour before making it into bread.62


Oats contain very little phytase, especially after commercial heat treatment, and require a very long preparation period to completely reduce phytic acid levels. Soaking oats at 77 degrees F for 16 hours resulted in no reduction of phytic acid, nor did germination for up to three days at this temperature.63 However, malting (sprouting) oats for five days at 52 degrees F and then soaking for 17 hours at 120 degrees F removes 98 percent of phytates. Adding malted rye further enhances oat phytate reduction.64 Without initial germination, even a five-day soaking at a warm temperature in acidic liquid may result in an insignificant reduction in phytate due to the low phytase content of oats. On the plus side, the process of rolling oats removes a at least part of the bran, where a large portion of the phytic acid resides.

How do we square what we know about oats with the fact that oats were a staple in the diet of the Scots and Gaelic islanders, a people known for their robust good health and freedom from tooth decay? For one thing, high amounts of vitamin D from cod’s liver and other sources, helps prevent calcium losses from the high oat diet. Absorbable calcium from raw dairy products, consumed in abundance on mainland Scotland, provides additional protection.

In addition, it is likely that a good part of the phytase remained in the oats of yore, which partially germinated in stacks left for a period in the field, were not heat treated and were hand rolled immediately prior to preparation. And some Scottish and Gaelic recipes do call for a long fermentation of oats before and even after they are cooked.

Unprocessed Irish or Scottish oats, which have not been heated to high temperatures, are availabile in some health food stores and on the internet. One study found that unheated oats had the same phytase activity as wheat.65 They should be soaked in acidulated water for as long as twenty-four hours on top of a hot plate to keep them at about 100 degrees F. This will reduce a part of the phytic acid as well as the levels of other anti-nutrients, and result in a more digestible product. Overnight fermenting of rolled oats using a rye starter—or even with the addition of a small amount of fresh rye flour—may result in a fairly decent reduction of phytate levels. It is unclear whether heat-treated oats are healthy to eat regularly.


Seeds—such as pumpkin seeds—are extremely high in phytic acid and require thorough processing to remove it. Some may be removed by soaking and roasting. It is best to avoid consuming or snacking on raw seeds. By the way, cacao is a seed. Cacao contains irritating tannins and is said to be extremely high in phytic acid, although studies verifying phytic acid levels in cacao could not be located. Some brands of raw cocoa and cocoa powder may be fermented, others may not be. Check with the manufacturer before indulging!


Corn is high in phytic acid and low in phytase. The Native Americans fermented cooked corn meal for two weeks, wrapped in corn husks, before preparing it as a flat bread or tortilla. In Africa, corn is fermented for long periods of time using a lactobacillis culture to produce foods like kishk, banku, or mawe. No such care is given to corn products in the western world! But you can prepare healthy corn products at home. As with oatmeal, the addition of a rye starter or rye flour to the soaking water may be particularly helpful in reducing phytate content—think of the colonial “Ryn‘n’Injun” bread made from rye and corn. In one research project, soaking ground corn with 10 percent whole rye flour resulted in a complete reduction of phytate in six hours.66 Again, more research—and more experimenting in the kitchen—is needed!


For those who need to reduce phytic acid to minimum levels—those suffering from tooth decay, bone loss and nutrient deficiencies—the magic ingredient is rye. To bring the phytate content of your diet to the absolute minimum, add freshly ground rye flour or a sourdough rye culture to rolled or cut oats, cornmeal, rice and other low-phytase grains, then soak in an acidic medium—preferably water with whey, yogurt or sour milk added—on a hot plate to bring the temperature up to about 100 degrees F. This is a better solution than consuming white rice and white flour, which are relative low in phytate but have a greatly reduced mineral content (see Figure 7).

The intention of the article is not to impose a decision about whether or not to consume grains, nuts, seeds and beans; rather it is to clarify how to consume them with awareness. This way you can maximize your health by making grain-based foods more digestible and absorbable. Now it is very clear which foods contain phytic acid and how much they contain, what the health effects of phytic acid are and how to mitigate phytic acid in your diet with complementary foods rich in vitamin C, vitamin D and calcium. Methods for preparation of grains, seeds, and beans have been clarified, so that you can estimate how much phytic acid you are consuming. One meal high in phytic acid won’t cause a healthy person any harm. But high phytic acid levels over weeks and months can be very problematic.

Fortunately, not only are properly prepared foods better for you, they also taste great. Now you can enjoy some well fermented sourdough bread, together with a piece of raw milk cheese, lots of butter and a slice of meat of your choice and taste the essence of life.

Note to readers: This article is a work in progress. Please send additional information or comments to



As a percentage of dry weight

Sesame seed flour 5.36 5.36
Brazil nuts 1.97 6.34
Almonds 1.35 3.22
Tofu 1.46 2.90
Linseed 2.15 2.78
Oat meal 0.89 2.40
Beans, pinto 2.38 2.38
Soy protein concentrate 1.24 2.17
Soybeans 1.00 2.22
Corn 0.75 2.22
Peanuts 1.05 1.76
Wheat flour 0.25 1.37
Wheat 0.39 1.35
Soy beverage 1.24 1.24
Oats 0.42 1.16
Wheat germ 0.08 1.14
Whole wheat bread 0.43 1.05
Brown rice 0.84 0.99
Polished rice 0.14 0.60
Chickpeas 0.56 0.56
Lentils 0.44 0.50


In milligrams per 100 grams of dry weight

Brazil nuts 1719
Cocoa powder 1684-1796
Brown rice 12509
Oat flakes 1174
Almond 1138 – 1400
Walnut 982
Peanut roasted 952
Peanut ungerminated 821
Lentils 779
Peanut germinated 610
Hazel nuts 648 – 1000
Wild rice flour 634 – 752.5
Yam meal 637
Refried beans 622
Corn tortillas 448
Coconut 357
Corn 367
Entire coconut meat 270
White flour 258
White flour tortillas 123
Polished rice 11.5 – 66
Strawberries 12



As evidence of the detrimental effects of phytates accumulates, reports on alleged beneficial effects have also emerged. In fact, a whole book, Food Phytates, published in 2001 by CRC press, attempts to build a case for “phytates’ potential ability to lower blood glucose, reduce cholesterol and triacylglycerols, and reduce the risks of cancer and heart disease.”14

One argument for the beneficial effects of phytates is based on the premise that they act as anti-oxidants in the body. But recent studies indicate that an overabundance of anti-oxidants is not necessarily a good thing as these compounds will inhibit the vital process of oxidation, not only in our cells but also in the process of digestion.

Another theory holds that phytates bind to extra iron or toxic minerals and remove them from the body, thus acting as chelators and promoting detoxification. As with all anti-nutrients, phytates may play a therapeutic role in certain cases.

For example, researchers claim that phytic acid may help prevent colon cancer and other cancers.15 Phytic acid is one of few chelating therapies used for uranium removal.16

Phytic acid’s chelating effect may serve to prevent, inhibit, or even cure some cancers by depriving those cells of the minerals (especially iron) they need to reproduce.17 The deprivation of essential minerals like iron would, much like other broad treatments for cancer, also have negative effects on non-cancerous cells. For example, prolonged use of phytic acid to clear excess iron may deprive other cells in the body that require iron (such as red blood cells).

One theory is that phytates can help patients with kidney stones by removing excess minerals from the body. However, a long-term study involving over forty-five thousand men found no correlation between kidney stone risk and dietary intake of phytic acid.18

Phytates also have the potential for use in soil remediation, to immobilize uranium, nickel and other inorganic contaminants.19


Phytates represent just one of many anti-nutrients in grains, nuts, tubers, seeds and beans. These include oxalates, tannins, trypsin inhibitors, enzyme inhibitors, lectins (hemagglutinins), protease inhibitors, gluten, alpha-amylase inhibitors and alkylresorcinols .

Anti-nutrients exist in these plant foods because they are part of the process of life. The natural world requires them in order to perform many important tasks, including protection against insects, maintaining freshness of seeds for germination, and protection against mold and fungus. In order to consume these foods on a regular basis we must remove the phytates and other anti-nutrients through processing in harmonious ways. Many people in the health field assure us that if something is from nature, then it doesn’t require processing. Phytates act as the seed’s system of preservatives, like the impossible-to-open plastic packaging of many consumer goods. To get to the item we need—namely, phosphorus—we need to unwrap the phytate-phosphorus package.


Cooked for 25 minutes at 212 degrees F 15-20 percent
Soaked for 12-14 hours at 68 degrees F, then cooked 60-77 percent
Fermented with whey 16-18 hours at 86 degrees F, then cooked 82-88 percent
Soaked 12-14 hours, germinated 30 hours, lacto-fermented 16-18 hours, then cooked at 212 degrees F for 25 minutes 97-98 percent


As Percentage of Dry Weight

Sesame seeds dehulled 5.36
100% Wheat bran cereal 3.29
Soy beans 1.00 – 2.22
Pinto beans 0.60 – 2.38
Navy beans 0.74 – 1.78
Parboiled brown rice 1.60
Oats 1.37
Peanuts 1.05 – 1.76
Barley 1.19
Coconut meal 1.17
Whole corn 1.05
Rye 1.01
Wheat flour 0.96
Brown rice 0.84 – 0.94
Chickpeas 0.28 – 1.26
Lentils 0.27 – 1.05
Milled (white) rice 0.2


As Percentage of Weight

Cornbread 1.36
Whole wheat bread 0.43-1.05
Wheat bran muffin 0.77-1.27
Popped corn 0.6
Rye 0.41
Pumpernickel 0.16
White bread 0.03- .23
French bread 0.03
Sourdough rye 0.03
Soured buckwheat 0.03



Percentage of Phytic Acid

—- Yeast Fermentation
___ Sourdough Fermentation



1. Soak brown rice in dechlorinated water for 24 hours at room temperature without changing the water. Reserve 10% of the soaking liquid (should keep for a long time in the fridge). Discard the rest of the soaking liquid; cook the rice in fresh water.

2. The next time you make brown rice, use the same procedure as above, but add the soaking liquid you reserved from the last batch to the rest of the soaking water.

3. Repeat the cycle. The process will gradually improve until 96% or more of the phytic acid is degraded at 24 hours.

Source: Stephan Guyenet


A survey of indigenous dishes shows that the bran is consistently removed from a variety of grains. The only exception seems to be beer. Traditional beer production—involving soaking, germination, cooking and fermentation—removes phytic acid and releases the vitamins from the bran and germ of grains.

The traditional method for preparing brown rice is to pound it in a mortar and pestle in order to remove the bran. The pounding process results in milled rice, which contains a reduced amount of the bran and germ. Experiments have verified the fact that milled rice, rather than whole brown rice, results in the highest mineral absorption from rice.

The idea we should eat bran is based on the idea of “not enough.” We somehow believe that grains without the bran do not provide enough nutrients. But solving the problem of a lack of bioavailable minerals in the diet may be more a question of soil fertility than of consuming every single part of the grain. A study of the famous Deaf Smith County Texas, the “town without a toothache”—because of their mineral-rich soil producing fabulous butter fat—found that its wheat contained six times the amount of phosphorus as normal wheat.60 In this case, wheat minus the bran grown in rich soils will have significant amounts or even more phosphorus compared to wheat with the bran grown in poor soil. Low nutrient content in food seems to be better solved by focusing on soil fertility, rather than trying to force something not digestible into a digestible form.

There are many studies in which researchers have tried to find out how to make the bran of different grains digestible and to provide additional nutrition. But small additions of phosphorus- and calcium-rich dairy products, such as milk and cheese, or phosphorous-rich meat will make up for the moderate reductions in mineral intakes from grains without the bran. In one study, the calcium, magnesium, phosphorous and potassium in diets made up with 92 percent flour (almost whole wheat) were less completely absorbed than the same minerals in diets made up with 69 percent flour (with a significant amount of bran and germ removed).61 This study involved yeasted bread. With sourdough bread, the phytate content of bran will be largely reduced if a phytase-rich starter is used and the flour is fermented at least twenty-four hours.

In milligrams per 100 grams.

Calcium Phosphorus Iron Calories
Whole grain wheat flour 34 346 3.9 339
Unenriched white flour 15 108 1.2 364
White rice 9 108 0.4 366
Milled rice 10-30 80-150 .2-2.8 349-373
Brown rice 10-50 170-430 .2-5.2 363-385
Blue corn mush (Navajo) 96 39 2.9 54
Acorn stew 62 14 1 95
Milk 169 117 0.1 97
Free range buffalo steak 4 246 3.8 146
Cheese, mozarella 505 354 0.4 300



KISHK, a fermented product prepared from parboiled wheat and milk, is consumed in Egypt and many Arabian countries. During the preparation of kishk, wheat grains are boiled until soft, dried, milled and sieved in order to remove the bran. Milk is separately soured in earthenware containers, concentrated and mixed with the moistened wheat flour thus prepared, resulting in the preparation of a paste called a hamma. The hamma is allowed to ferment for about 24 hours, following which it is kneaded. Soured salted milk is added prior to dilution with water. Fermentation is allowed to proceed for a further 24 hours. The mass is thoroughly mixed, formed into balls and dried.

BANKU is a popular staple consumed in Ghana. It is prepared from maize or a mixture of maize and cassava. The preparation involves steeping the raw material in water for 24 hours followed by wet milling and fermentation for three days. The dough is then mixed with water at a ratio of 4 parts dough to 2 parts water; or 4 parts dough to 1 part cassava and 2 parts water. Continuous stirring and kneading of the fermented dough is required to attain an appropriate consistency during subsequent cooking. Microbiological studies of the fermentation process revealed that the predominant microorganisms involved are lactic acid bacteria and moulds.

MAWE is a sour dough prepared from partially dehulled maize meal which has undergone natural fermentation for a one- to three-day period. Traditional mawe production involves cleaning maize by winnowing, washing in water and crushing in a plate disc mill. The crushed maize is screened by sieving whereby grits and hulls are separated by gravity and the fine endosperm fraction collected in a bowl. The grits are not washed but home dehulled, following which they are mixed with the fine fraction, moistened over a 2- to 4-hour period and milled to a dough. The kneaded dough is then covered with a polyethylene sheet and allowed to ferment naturally to a sour dough in a fermentation bowl, or wrapped in paper or polyethylene. In the commercial process which takes place entirely in a milling shop, the grits are washed by rubbing in water, following which the germ and remaining hulls are floated off and discarded along with the water. The sedimented endosperm grits are subsequently blended with the fine endosperm fraction. The dominant microorganisms in mawe preparation include lactic acid bacteria and yeasts.

INJERA is the most popular baked product in Ethiopia. It is a fermented sorghum bread with a very sour taste. The sorghum grains are dehulled manually or mechanically and milled to flour which is subsequently used in the preparation of injera. On the basis of production procedures three types of injera are distinguishable: thin injera which results from mixing a portion of fermented sorghum paste with three parts of water and boiling to yield a product known as absit, which is, in turn, mixed with a portion of the original fermented flour; thick injera, which is reddish in color with a sweet taste, consisting of a paste that has undergone only minimal fermentation for 12-24 hours; and komtata-type injera, which is produced from over-fermented paste, and has a sour taste. The paste is baked or grilled to give a bread-like product. Yeasts are the major microorganisms involved in the fermentation of the sweet type of injera. Source:


Commercial oats in the U.S. are heat treated to about 200o F for four or five hours, to prevent rancidity—oats are rich in polyunsaturated oils that can go rancid within three months, especially at warm temperatures, and oats are harvested only once a year. Heat treatment kills enzymes that accelerate oxidation and helps prevent a bitter taste, although it surely damages the fragile polyunsaturated oils as well.

While Irish and Scottish oatmeal is said to be “unheated,” this is not exactly true; these oats are also heat treated —for the same reasons, to minimize rancidity—but usually at lower temperatures. McCann’s Irish steel cut oats are heated to 113-118o F but Hamlyn’s heats to 212o F. Truly raw rolled oats are available from

The Alford brand, available only in the U.K., is kiln dried for four hours according to their website; they do not provide temperatures.

Hulless oats that have not been heat treated are available from; these can be ground or rolled at home before soaking and preparation as oat meal.


The article on phytic acid (Spring, 2010) was written in response to reports of dental decay, especially in children, even though the family was following the principles of traditional diets. Phytates become a problem when grains make up a large portion of the diet and calcium, vitamin C and fat-soluble vitamins, specifically fat-soluble vitamin D, are low. In the diet advocated by WAPF, occasional higher phytate meals will not cause any noticeable health effects for people in good health. Significantly more care is needed with whole grains when the diet is low in fat-soluble vitamins and in diets where two or more meals per day rely significantly on grains as a food source. Vitamin C reduces the iron and perhaps other mineral losses from phytic acid. Vitamin D can mitigate the harmful effects of phytates. Calcium (think raw milk, raw cheese, yogurt, and kefir) balances out the negative effects of phytates. The best indicator of whether dietary phytic acid is causing problems can be seen in the dental health of the family. If dental decay is a recurrent problem, then more care with grain preparation and higher levels of animal foods will be needed. Article Correction , Brown Rice Preparation The article stated: “Soak brown rice in dechlorinated water for 24 hours at room temperature, without changing the water. Reserve 10 percent of the soaking liquid (which should keep for a long time in the fridge). Cook the rice in the remaining soaking liquid and eat. This will break down about 50 percent of the phytic acid.” The soaking water is to be discarded and the rice should be cooked in fresh water. Readers have noted that after the fourth cycle using the brown rice starter the brown rice becomes significantly softer and more digestible.


White potatoes have 0.111-0.269 percent of dry weight of phytic acid, a level approximately equivalent to the amount in white rice. Cooking does not significantly remove phytates in potatoes, but consumption of potatoes with plenty of butter or other animal fat in the context of a nutrient dense diet should be enough to mitigate the effects of phytate. Yams contain an amount of phytate equal to or less than that in white potatoes, and sweet potatoes contain no phytate at all. One idea for corn would be to soak/sour it with wheat such as in the process of making corn bread. Corn generally is prepared without the whole kernel, removing the kernel will reduce the phytate content a little bit. I don’t have further details on corn preparation, an entire article could be written on corn and traditional preparation.


When preparing these grains according to traditional methods, such as those provided in Nourishing Traditions, the best idea is to add one or more tablespoons of freshly ground rye flour. Rye flour contains high levels of phytase that will be activated during the soaking process. This method reflects new information obtained since the publication of Nourishing Traditions. Even without the rye flour, overnight soaking of oats and other low-phytase grains greatly improves digestibility but won’t eliminate too much phytic acid. Another grain that benefits from added rye flour during soaking is sorghum, which is lower in phytic acid than wheat but lacking in phytase. (Buckwheat contains high levels of phytase and would not need added rye flour.) You can keep whole rye grains and grind a small amount in a mini grinder for adding to these grains during the soaking process.


If beans are a staple of your diet, extra care is needed in their preparation, including soaking for twenty-four hours (changing the soaking water at least once) and very long cooking. In general, soaking beans and then cooking removes about 50 percent of phytic acid. One report with peas and lentils shows that close to 80 percent of phytic acid can be removed by soaking and boiling. Boiling beans that haven’t been soaked may remove much less phytic acid. Germinating and soaking, or germinating and souring is the best way to deal with beans; dosas made from soaked and fermented lentils and rice is a good example from India. In Latin America, beans are often fermented after the cooking process to make a sour porridge, such as chugo.


We still do not have adequate information on nut preparation to say with any certainty how much phytic acid is reduced by various preparation techniques. Soaking in salt water and then dehydrating to make “crispy nuts” makes the nuts more digestible and less likely to cause intestinal discomfort, but we don’t know whether this process significantly reduces phytic acid, although it is likely to reduce at least a portion of the phytic acid.

Roasting probably removes a significant portion of phytic acid. Roasting removes 32-68 percent of phytic acid in chick peas and roasting grains removes about 40 percent of phytic acid. Germinated peanuts have 25 percent less phytic acid then ungerminated peanuts. Several indigenous groups cooked and or roasted their nuts or seeds. I notice that I like the taste and smell of roasted nuts.

The real problem with nuts comes when they are consumed in large amounts, such as almond flour as a replacement for grains in the GAPS diet. For example, an almond flour muffin contains almost seven hundred milligrams of phytic acid, so consumption should be limited to one per day. Eating peanut butter every day would also be problematic.


We do not have enough information about the preparation of coconut flour to say whether soaking reduces phytic acid, but as with other phytic-acid containing foods, the likelihood is that it is at least partially reduced.


I’m writing in regard to the article written by Ramiel Nagel titled “Living with Phytic Acid” (Spring 2010). In the article there are references to the phytic acid content of coconut. Since the publication of this article people have been asking me whether they should soak coconut or coconut flour to reduce the phytic acid.
Phytic acid occurs in nuts and seeds in two forms—phytic acid and phytic acid salts [Reddy, NR and Sathe, SK (Eds.) Food Phytates. CRC Press, 2001]. Both are generally referred to as “phytates.” Together, these two compounds make up the total percentage of phytates reported in various foods. However, they do not possess the same chelating power. So the chelating effect of the phytates in corn, wheat, or soy are not the same as those in coconut. You cannot predict the chelating effect based on total phytate content alone.
The mineral-binding effect of the phytates in coconut is essentially nonexistent. It is as if coconut has no phytic acid at all. In a study published in 2002, researchers tested the mineral binding capacity of a variety of bakery products made with coconut f lour. Mineral availability was determined by simulating conditions that prevail in the small intestine and colon. The researchers concluded that “coconut flour has little or no effect on mineral availability.” (Trinidad, TP and others. The effect of coconut flour on mineral availability from coconut flour supplemented foods. Philippine Journal of Nutrition 2002;49:48-57). In other words, coconut flour did not bind to the minerals. Therefore, soaking or other phytic acid-neutralizing processes are completely unnecessary.
Soaking has been suggested as a means to reduce the phytic acid content in grains and nuts. Some suggest coconut flour should also be soaked. To soak coconut flour doesn’t make any sense. The coconut meat from which the flour is made, is naturally soaked in water its entire life (12 months) as it is growing on the tree. To remove the meat from the coconut and soak it again is totally redundant. After the coconut meat has been dried and ground into flour, soaking it would ruin the flour and make it unusable. You should never soak coconut flour.
In the tropics coconut has been consumed as a traditional food for thousands of years. Those people who use it as a food staple and regard it as “sacred food,” do not soak it or process it in any way to remove phytates. It is usually eaten raw. This is the traditional method of consumption. They apparently have not suffered any detrimental effects from it even though in some populations it served as their primary source of food.

Bruce Fife, ND
Colorado Springs, Colorado


1. Tannenbaum and others. Vitamins and Minerals, in Food Chemistry, 2nd edition. OR Fennema, ed. Marcel Dekker, Inc., New York, 1985, p 445.

2. Ibid.

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4. Johansen K and others. Degradation of phytate in soaked diets for pigs. Department of Animal Health, Welfare and Nutrition, Danish Institute of Agricultural Sciences, Research Centre Foulum, Tjele, Denmark.

5. Navert B and Sandstrom B. Reduction of the phytate content of bran by leavening in bread and its effect on zinc absorption in man. British Journal of Nutrition 1985 53:47-53; Phytic acid added to white-wheat bread inhibits fractional apparent magnesium absorption in humans1–3. Bohn T and others. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2004 79:418 –23.

6. Srivastava BN and others. Influence of Fertilizers and Manures on the Content of Phytin and Other Forms of Phosphorus in Wheat and Their Relation to Soil Phosphorus. Journal of the Indian Society of Soil Science. 1955 III:33-40.

7. Reddy NR and others. Food Phytates, CRC Press, 2001.

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9. Effects of soaking, germination and fermentation on phytic acid, total and in vitro soluble zinc in brown rice. Food Chemistry 2008 110:821–828.

10. Wills MR and others. Phytic Acid and Nutritional Rickets in Immigrants. The Lancet, April 8, 1972, 771-773.

11. Walker ARP and others. The Effect of Bread Rich in Phytate Phosphorus on the metabolism of Certain Mineral Salts with Special Reference to Calcium. The Biochemical Journal 1948 42(1):452-461.

12. Iron absorption in man: ascorbic acid and dose-depended inhibition. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Jan 1989 49(1):140-144

13. Inhibitory effect of nuts on iron absorption. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 1988 47:270-4.

14. Reddy NR and others. Food Phytates, CRC Press, 2001.

15. Vucenik I and Shamsuddin AM. Cancer inhibition by inositol hexaphosphate (IP6) and inositol: from laboratory to clinic. The Journal of Nutrition 2003 Nov 133(11 Suppl 1); Jenab M and Thompson LU (August 2000). Phytic acid in wheat bran affects colon morphology, cell differentiation and apoptosis. Carcinogenesis 2000 Aug 21(8):1547–52.

16. Cebrian D and others. Inositol hexaphosphate: a potential chelating agent for uranium. Radiation Protection Dosimetry 2007 127(1-4):477–9.


18. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 1995 35(6):495- 508.

19 Seaman JC and others. In situ treatment of metals in contaminated soils with phytate. Journal of Environmental Quality 2003 32(1):153–61.

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22. Iron absoprtion in man: ascrobic acid and dose-depended inhibition. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Jan 1989. 49(1):140-144.

23. Ibid.

24. Rice and iron absorption in man. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. July 1990. 44(7):489-497.

25. Layrisse M and others. New property of vitamin A and Bcarotene on human iron absorption: effect on phytate and polyphenols as inhibitors of iron absorption. Archivos Latinoamericanos de Nutricion Sept 2000 50(3).

26. Iqbal TH and others. Phytase activity in the human and rat small intestine. Gut. 1994 September 35(9):1233–1236.

27. Famularo G and others. Probiotic lactobacilli: an innovative tool to correct the malabsorption syndrome of vegetarians? Medical Hypotheses 2005 65(6):1132–5.

28. Malleshi NG. Nutritive value of malted millet flours. Plant Foods for Human Nutrition 1986 36:191–6.

29. Malleshi NG. Nutritive value of malted millet flours. Plant Foods for Human Nutrition 1986 36:191–6.

30. Egli I and others. The Influence of Soaking and Germination on the Phytase Activity and Phytic Acid Content of Grains and Seeds Potentially Useful for Complementary Feeding. Journal of Food Science 2002 Vol. 67, Nr. 9.

31. Peers FG. Phytase of Wheat. The Biochemical Journal 1953 53(1):102-110.

32. Campbell J and others. Nutritional Characteristics of Organic, Freshly stone-ground sourdough and conventional breads.

33. Price WA. Nutrition and Physical Degeneration. Price-Pottenger Nutrition Foundation. 8th edition, page 249.

34. Reddy NR and others. Food Phytates, CRC Press, 2001.

35. Gontzea I and Sutzescu P. Natural Antinutritive Substances in Foodstuffs and Forages. Karger AG, Basel, Switzerland, 1968.

36. Antinutritional content of developed weaning foods as affected by domestic processing. Food Chemistry. 1993 47(4):333-336.

37. Effect of traditional fermentation and malting on phytic acid and mineral availability from sorghum (Sorghum bicolor) and finger millet (Eleusine coracana) grain varieties grown in Kenya. Food and Nutrition Bulletin 2002 23(3 supplement).

38. Effects of processing methods on phytic acid level and some constituents in bambara groundnut and pigeon pea. Food Chemistry 1994 50(2):147-151.

39. Reddy NR and others. Food Phytates, CRC Press, 2001, p 118.

40. Food Chemistry 1993. 47(4)333-336.

41. Reddy NR and others. Food Phytates, 1st edition, CRC Press, 2001, pages 30-32

42. Ibid.

43. Lestienne I and others. Relative contribution of phytates, fibers and tannins to low iron and zinc in vitro solubility in pearl millet. Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry 2005 Oct 53(21):8342-8.

44. Mahgoub SEO and Elhag SA. Effect of milling, soaking, malting, heat-treatment and fermentation on phytate level of four Sudanese sorghum cultivars. Food Chemistry January 1998 61 (1-2):77-80.

45. Hotz C and others. A home-based method to reduce phytate content and increase zinc bioavailability in maize based complementary diets. International Journal of Food Science and Nutrition 2001 52:133–42.

46. Dephytinization of wheat bran by fermentation with bakers’ yeast, incubation with barley malt flour and autoclaving at different pH levels. Journal of Cereal Science 2008 48(2):471-476.

47. Hauspy R. Fabrication du pain au levain naturel. Nature et Progres. Paris 1983, 1:26-28.

48. McKenzie-Parnell JM and Davies NT. Destruction of Phytic Acid During Home Breadmaking. Food Chemistry 1986 22:181−192.

49. Ellis R and others. Phytate:zinc and phytate X calcium: zinc millimolar rations in self-selected diets of American, Asian Indians, and Nepalese. Journal of the American Dietetic Association 1987 Aug 87(8):1043-7; Ready NR and others. Food Phytates, CRC Press, 2001


51. Ologhobo AD and Fetuga BL. Distribution of Phosphorus and Phytate in Some Nigerian Varieties of Legumes and some Effects of Processing. Journal of Food Science 1984 Volume 49.

52. Indigenous legume fermentation: effect on some anti-nutrients and in-vitro digestibility of starch and protein. Food Chemistry 1994. 50(4):403-406.

53. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture 1996 71(3).

54. Proximate Composition and Mineral and Phytate Contents of Legumes Grown in Sudan. Journal of Food Composition and Analysis 1989 2:69-78.


56. Analysis of phytate in raw and cooked potatoes. Journal of Food Composition and Analysis 2004 17:217-226; Ion Chromatography of Phytate in Roots and Tubers. Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry 2003 51:350-353.

57. Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry 2001, 49 (5), pp 2657–2662 DOI: 10.1021/jf001255z Publication Date (Web): May 4, 2001 Copyright © 2001 American Chemical Society.

58. Journal of Agriculture and Food Science 2001 49(5):2657–2662.


60. Taylor, Edward. Preliminary Studies on Caries Immunity in the Deaf Smith County (Texas) Area. Journal of the American Dental Association. March, 1942.

61. Mineral Metabolism of Healthy Adults on White and Brown Bread Dietaries. Journal of Physiology 1942 101:44-8.


63. Egli and others. The Influence of Soaking and Germination on the Phytase Activity and Phytic Acid Content of Grains and Seeds Potentially Useful for Complementary Feeding. Journal of Food Science 2002 67(9):3484-3488.

64. Phytate reduction in oats during malting. Journal of Food Science. July/Aug 1992 57(4):994-997.

65. Frolich W and others. Studies on phytase activity in oats and wheat using 31P-NMR spectroscopy. Journal of Cereal Science July 1988 8(1):47-54.

66. Egli and others. Phytic Acid Degradation in Complementary Foods Using Phytase Naturally Occurring in Whole Grain Cereals. Journal of Food Science 2003:68(5):1855-1859.



This article appeared in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, the quarterly journal of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Spring 2010.

Rami Nagel is a father who cares about the way we affect each other, our children and our planet through our lifestyle choices. His health background is in hands-on energy healing, Hatha and Bhaki yoga, and Pathwork. Rami is author of several health resources:,,, and

97 Responses to Living With Phytic Acid

  1. Julie says:

    Hi Judy, I think the footnotes are about 3/5 of the way down the page. Like you, it took me a while to find it on the page. They’re also in the printed version of this article in the print 2010 edition of Wise Traditions. Julie

    • B B says:

      Did you know phytic acid is a major anti cancer antioxident? Did you know that the studies that show phytic acid is an antinutrient were poorly designed? Phytic plays a role in reducing colon cancer.

      • Anthony says:

        Sources please.

        • MistyMuckRunningBrook says:

          The source is directly above, where the heading is “Phytates: A Beneficial Role?” and says “researchers claim that phytic acid may help prevent colon cancer and other cancers” then
          cites “15. Vucenik I and Shamsuddin AM. Cancer inhibition by inositol hexaphosphate (IP6) and inositol: from laboratory to clinic. The Journal of Nutrition 2003 Nov 133(11 Suppl 1); Jenab M and Thompson LU (August 2000). Phytic acid in wheat bran affects colon morphology, cell differentiation and apoptosis. Carcinogenesis 2000 Aug 21(8):1547–52.”

  2. Judy says:


    So where do I find the footnoted references for this article? I would like to use them to dig further on some of this. Thanks.

  3. Suzanne Gross says:

    Soaking water, discard or keep?

    I noticed in the recipe for soaking brown rice that you say to cook the rice in the remaining soaking liquid rather than pouring it off and using fresh water, as is instructed in the article you referenced. Any reason why you believe cooking in the soaking water is more beneficial than pouring it off? Maybe an even better method would be to pour off the soaking water and cook it in stock?

  4. Suzanne Gross says:

    What about spelt? Soft wheat?

    What an enlightening article! What about spelt? Has there been any research done on its levels of phytic acid and phytase? Also, is there any difference between hard wheat and soft wheat, in terms of levels of phytase and phytic acid? I like to use soft wheat for most of my baking, but am curious now about whether hard wheat would be better, in terms of soaking success.

  5. laurel says:

    Re: Soaking water, discard or keep?

    Hi Suzanne,

    To be honest, I think Rami made a mistake in that part of the article. I also was really confused when I read the part about the brown rice. But after a few very careful readings of the article he referenced, I’m pretty sure that the correct way to do this is to:

    1. Soak the rice in plain water.

    2. Drain the rice and rinse, reserving 10% of the soaking liquid. PUT THIS IN THE FRIDGE FOR LATER USE.

    3. Cook rinsed rice in plain water, or broth for extra minerals.

    4. Next time you make rice, soak it in plain water PLUS the reserved soaking liquid from last time. Repeat the same process for cooking the rice and reserving 10% of the soaking liquid in the fridge.

    I know Rami says to cook in the soaking liquid, but that’s not what the article he referenced says to do. I think the author changed his wording to make it more clear because a lot of people didn’t understand.

    Good luck!

  6. Lisa says:

    soaking times, then need to be longer?

    SO, what I’m getting from this article is that soaking times need to be longer AND warmer, than explained in NT, to really make a difference in the phytic acid content of grains? Is that right? Also, what about introducing grains to babies? What this be a case where maybe the more processed / refined cereals would be better introductions to a baby’s digestive system? I realize it’s a much less nutritious food, but is the more ‘whole’ food harsher in the system? I assume the perfect solution would be the long/warm soaks, then long slow cooking?

  7. Reader says:

    Help from Vitamin A

    Vitamin A reduces the inhibition of iron absorption by phytates and polyphenols

    I believe getting healthy food in you is more important than keeping unhealthy food out. This is another bit of research showing that. This organization has always promoted foods high in both vitamin A and D.

  8. Bella says:

    Buckwheat preparation

    Can you please say something about proper buckwheat preparation. Does it contain phatase and phytic acid? Is it safe to consume soaked buckweat or is cooking required to make it more nutricious/digestible? Thank you, Bella

  9. lynn says:

    Nut milks and carob

    This is a very informative article and I hope the author continues his research into this matter. I have 2 questions that I hope someone looks into. I was wondering about phytates in nut milk. Since the phytic acid is found in the bran of grains would the phytic acid in nuts be bound up in the fibers of the nut? Thus leaving the phytic acid behind during the straining process of producing nut milk? Also wondering about the extent of phytates in carob.

  10. Alex says:


    When it is said in the article that seeds contain phytic acid, are we talking all seeds! Like cucumber seeds which is a close relative to pumpkin, grape seeds, berry seeds, tomato seeds, etc? I eat all these food I just mentioned on a regular basis and always raw. Am I messing with my health?

    • ANDREW CHIN says:

      I suspect non-sweet fruits like cukes and tomatoes, and sweet fruits like blueberries won’t have too much phytic acid. Since phytic acid is the storage form of phosphorus, oily nuts and seeds, as well as grains, will contain more phytic acid. Non-sweet fruits and sweet fruits tend to be very low on phosphorus. However, an oily seed like pumpkin seed is off the charts in phosphorus.

      Grape seed might have a little more phytic acid, since it seems to contain more fat, than, say, a cucumber seed, therefore making it a little more like an oily nut or seed.

      Hope this helps!


      • Ellimist says:

        It’s important to keep in mind that most people generally avoid chewing seeds like those from grapes ( many small fruits reproduce by passing through an animal’s digestive tract) Presumably since the seeds isn’t breached, then the phytic acid probably isn’t a concern. Grinding up 10,000 seeds and eating that a la grains is another story…

  11. Dan says:

    Almond Flour is Bad? What about the SCD Diet?

    While I think Rami is well intentioned, I do have to wonder if he’s a little biased in his writing, constantly referring to phytates as “anti-nutrients” (even though he later writes about their potential benefits).

    And what about almond flour? It is a STAPLE food of the SCD Diet, a diet that has cured thousands of people from years of suffering from Chron’s disease and other gastrointestinal diseases.

    I hope he’ll return and answer some of these questions posted.



  12. Gail says:

    Souring lentils

    Would someone please explain to me what is meant by souring lentils? I am referring to where he advises to soak and then sprout lentils and after that sour. In general I have found this article to be of great value. Thank you for the time and effort put into this research.:-*

  13. Karaina says:

    Thanks for your interesting article! I have been lacto soaking gluten-free oats,quinoa & amaranth before cooking for better digestibility and am intrigued by the addition of rye to raise the phytase content. What Gluten-free high-phytase add-in can you recommend besides rye? Also, for nuts & seeds, besides soaking in salt overnight and slow & low temp dehydration they must be roasted? Doesn’t the high temperature required for roasting destroy nutrients?

  14. EJ says:

    Brown rice preparation

    That brown rice preparation sidebar is *incorrect* – please click on the link immediately below to go to the source and see the correct method.

  15. Debbie Eaton says:

    What about almonds that are soaked, then have the skins popped off and dried in a 150 degree oven. Does removing the skins remove more of the phytic acid? Very informative article, proving again that we moderns have really lost touch with history and food preparation.

  16. Don says:

    Please define the difference between “germinating” “fermention” and “sprouting” “soaking” This article is too dense and creates more confusion and questions for me

    • faraday says:

      In response to Don and the difference between “germinating,” “fermentation,” “sprouting” and “soaking.” This can be confusing, but here are some quick definitions:

      Germinating – an early stage of sprouting, usually involves soaking the grains/legumes for ~12 hours, draining, and keeping in a warm place for 1-3 days, rinsing often, until the seeds open up and you can see the beginnings of a shoot

      Fermentation (this could also be referred to as “souring”) – in this context, this usually refers to introducing (or encouraging the propagation of) lactobacilli and/or other friendly acidifying flora by adding whey, yogurt, buttermilk, sourdough starter or fermented brine to the grains/legumes that you want to ferment. if you keep grains warm and wet you will often get spontaneous fermentation, though you may also get rot…the smell will be your guide.

      Sprouting – sprouting is sometimes used interchangeably with germination, but I think of it as the next stage after germination when you continue rinsing the sprouts for several more days, encouraging longer shoots to form.

      Soaking – this is simply letting the grains/legumes sit in water. this usually precedes germination, but with high phytase grains like wheat and rye, this may be sufficient to reduce a significant amount of phytates. soaking in an acidified liquid (with whey, vinegar, etc. added) will encourage the activity of phytase.

      This is an extremely basic interpretation, but I hope it helps you sort through all this information!

  17. Brenda Goldstein says:

    Is there any way to neutralize the phytates in cacao? Thanks! Brenda

  18. taylor says:

    In response to Don and the difference between “germinating,” “fermentation,” “sprouting” and “soaking.” This can be confusing, but here are some quick definitions:

    Germinating – an early stage of sprouting, usually involves soaking the grains/legumes for ~12 hours, draining, and keeping in a warm place for 1-3 days, rinsing often, until the seeds open up and you can see the beginnings of a shoot

    Fermentation (this could also be referred to as “souring”) – in this context, this usually refers to introducing (or encouraging the propagation of) lactobacilli and/or other friendly acidifying flora by adding whey, yogurt, buttermilk, sourdough starter or fermented brine to the grains/legumes that you want to ferment. if you keep grains warm and wet you will often get spontaneous fermentation, though you may also get rot…the smell will be your guide.

    Sprouting – sprouting is sometimes used interchangeably with germination, but I think of it as the next stage after germination when you continue rinsing the sprouts for several more days, encouraging longer shoots to form.

    Soaking – this is simply letting the grains/legumes sit in water. this usually precedes germination, but with high phytase grains like wheat and rye, this may be sufficient to reduce a significant amount of phytates. soaking in an acidified liquid (with whey, vinegar, etc. added) will encourage the activity of phytase.

    This is an extremely basic interpretation, but I hope it helps you sort through all this information!

  19. sylvia says:

    Wow. Never knew this… Will have to rethink some of my raw food eating habits.

  20. Linda says:

    Rami Nagel you are awesome! Thank you a million times. Your work and your words are invaluable. I am mineral deficient in Iron. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. God bless you.

  21. Kaydee says:

    GF grains

    Am I correct in noting that due to buckwheat’s high phytase content, it could be used to augment the soaking of low phytase gluten-free grains, in lieu of wheat flour? For example, adding a couple of tablespoons of buckwheat flour to GF oats and soaking them per the porridge recipe in Nourishing Traditions? Buckwheat does not have a neutral flavor though. Are there other high-phytase, GF flours?

  22. esther says:

    yams vs,. sweet pot.

    THe term yam is confusing. It think what most of us buy in the grocery store (at least in Canada) is really sweet potatoe. Is this what you mean when you say yam or are you meaning true yam that is poisonous to eat raw and is cut off a very large tuber

  23. esther says:

    stabilized rice bran

    Lately stabilized rice bran has been touted as an excellent supplement(1-2 T per day). Would this be high in phytic acid and so negate any special nutrient value in it or does the process to stabilize it take care of the phytic acid?

  24. Zoltan Torzsok says:

    Soaking poppy seed

    What about poppy seed? I have read that it should be soaked overnight in milk. Is it necessary because of phytic acid?

  25. Will Quesnel says:

    Soaking other grains with rye or wheat?

    If Rye and Wheat have high phytase contents, can one soak oats (low phytase content) with those grains in order to ensure greater phytase activation? I thought that I had read that in this article but then I went back at a later time to find it and couldn’t – so apologies if I am being terribly dyslexic!

  26. Matt Huszagh says:

    Phytic Acid in Mochi

    Great article. I reference it frequently. Does contemporary mochi contain healthy levels of phytic acid?

  27. Umer says:


    Ever since ive started my whole wheat diet my teeth are becoming more and more transparent. My eyesight fell when i was 15 and given all seeds diet from my mom, thinking it will make me smarter somehow and help me in the exams. I fell like empty body back then. Waiting to be put out of misery. After, realizing that my knew health diet is actually the cause of how my eyesight is falling again tremendously and how my hair are falling and how my stamina disappearing, and how my teeth are becoming like transparent i think i should have gotten the clue. That the change i made could be the one of the culprit. I really should listen to my own advice, question everything. Till the end.
    OMG i cant bleieve this, i eat whole wheat whole day. No wonder i dont feel that soldiness in my bones, and kinda shy away from jumping, think it could be something to do with me entering into twenties. UGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.

  28. sane says:


    Would anybody know if popcorn, air-popped or oil-popped, is healthy? Is there any way to reduce phytic acid from popcorn? Thank you.

  29. Belle Burch says:

    Sprouted almond flour/ almond sourdough


    About almond flour. I make all my own sprouted almond flour by buying almonds in bulk and soaking them in water for sometimes as long as five days, changing the water at least once a day, sometimes twice a day if I feel like it. Then I dehydrate them in my dehydrator until they are very very very dry, grind them into flour with my Vitamix dry blade and sift to create almond four that is ultimately way more nutritious, cheaper, and finer in texture than what I can buy in the store. It’s a bit labor intensive and time consuming (If I’m out of almond flour I have to wait up to a week for a new batch) but SO worth it. My almond flour is also better than store bought because mine contains the bran and therefore could be called “whole” almond flour. Almond flour in stores is always blanched and never whole. I have been toying with the idea of trying to make a sprouted almond flour sourdough but I don’t know if it would behave the same way grain would because almonds have a much higher fat content than most grains, along with other big differences. I would also need enough almond flour on hand to consistently feed my starter to keep it alive, and at the moment I don’t have the money to do that. I can barely afford toilet paper.

    Has anyone made almond flour sourdough? Does anyone know if it can be done? If so please comment!

    Also, like most things, phytic acid is neither 100% evil nor 100% wonderful. It’s not black and white. It is okay and even beneficial to have in small amounts, but the danger comes when people eat way too much of it. And the average American eats WAY too much of it. The bottom rung of our food pyramid is made up entirely of seeds, and no one knows how to prepare them right!

  30. Meeks, David says:

    rice prep

    I’ve read several clarifications on prepping the rice and am still confused. What you’re left with, after five or six cycles, is a liquid that will reduce phytates to almost nothing in a 24 hour soak? And in the meantime You’ve made all these batches of phytate-rich rice that you’re eating?

    • Stan says:

      David First soak hopefully has a little of the good bacteria, second to forth they become firmly established. You have possibly been eating brown rice just boiled for decades ?? If your worried about the initial batches just throw the rice out and keep the required liquid.

  31. ben says:

    Hi. Is soaking the wheat flour in yeast/warm water overnight sufficient for reducing phytic acid?

  32. Lisa says:

    I find this interesting, considering that Bruce Fife just published research from the Philippines showing that coconut flour contains virtually no phytic acid at all. This article also goes against just about all of the soaking/fermenting/sprouting advice found in Sally Fallon’s Cookbook. Who to believe?

  33. Dan Possnack says:

    Rami, this report is an excellent compilation, and very helpful to me in understanding the impact of being a vegetarian for the past 7 years, using beans, nuts, and seeds as my main source of protein and fats. My digestive system has become more “sensitive” in the past year, and I thought it might be due to work stress, but now I can see that my phytate consumption level was probably off the charts. About 4 weeks ago I changed to a paleo diet, eliminating the grains, legumes, and beans, but still consuming a lot of almonds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, and walnuts. I was soaking them overnight in the refrigerator with some lemon juice, but I can now see that this was totally inadequate. Your data (indicating the residual phytates) suggests that I should probably stop eating the nuts and seeds entirely for a while, then reintroduce them gradually, but only after processing them much more extensively according to your recommendations. Thank you again for sharing all of this well-researched information, especially about coconut and buckwheat.

  34. Cynthia says:

    Cacao beans are generally fermented and roasted to make chocolate

    Because cacao beans are traditionally fermented and roasted to make finer chocolates, I’d recheck your information regarding the processing. It’s doubtful there are significant phytates if the fermentation and roasting process is done.

  35. Lisa G says:

    Clarrification of Malting

    In regards to interpretation of reference # 64 where the 98% phytate reduction of oats is discussed, do you possibly mean that the oats are to be soaked for 5 days at 52 F and then germinated (incubated) for 72 hours at 120F. Or possibly germinated for 5 days at 52F and then dried for 72 hours at 120F. My understanding of malting is 1)soak (seep) 2)germinate (incubate) 3)dry. But, as I am not a food scientist I am unsure. It seems counter intuitive to sprout and then soak. Thoughts?

    With much respect to author of this article and the readers,
    Lisa G.

  36. Your Nutrition Matters says:

    Updated Link for the broken link: Vitamin A reduces the inhibition of iron absorption by phytates and polyphenols

  37. peter metcalf says:

    roasted peanut butter: fequency of eating

    Have you any data on the nutritional consequences vis a vis phytic acid if one eats roasted peanut butter daily, as in a thick sandwich? Thank you.

  38. Michal says:

    Congratulation, I find this is the best article I have ever read about nutrition. :)

  39. Hobie says:

    chief loafer

    “Yeasted whole wheat breads lost only 22-58 percent of their phytic acid content from the start of the bread making process to the complete loaf.48″
    I’ve been having good results with folks who are “gluten-intolerant” by soaking the dough for my whole grain wheat bread for a full seven hours before baking. I wonder what percentages of phytic acid content loss would be found under those circumstances?

  40. Lisa Marley says:

    Steel Cut Kiln Dried Oats Considred Heat Treated?

    Are steel cut oats that are kiln dried considered heat treated oats? I have been soaking my kiln dried steel cut oats in whey and want to know if this is a useful practice or if my oats are do not contain phytase which would make the soaking useless.

  41. Susan says:

    However, some recent studies show higher phytate consumption correlates with stonger bones. It begs the question is it the phytates that are good or the foods associated with phytates despite their presence that increase the bone mass? So now I am really confused. Any comments on these studies? This is important information for those battling osteoporosis. 2 studies below
    Phytate (myo-inositol hexaphosphate) and risk factors for osteoporosis.

    López-González AA, Grases F, Roca P, Mari B, Vicente-Herrero MT, Costa-Bauzá A.


    Servicio de Prevención de Riesgos Laborales, Gestión Sanitaria de Mallorca, Palma de Mallorca, Spain.


    Several risk factors seem to play a role in the development of osteoporosis. Phytate is a naturally occurring compound that is ingested in significant amounts by those with diets rich in whole grains. The aim of this study was to evaluate phytate consumption as a risk factor in osteoporosis. In a first group of 1,473 volunteer subjects, bone mineral density was determined by means of dual radiological absorptiometry in the calcaneus. In a second group of 433 subjects (used for validation of results obtained for the first group), bone mineral density was determined in the lumbar column and the neck of the femur. Subjects were individually interviewed about selected osteoporosis risk factors. Dietary information related to phytate consumption was acquired by questionnaires conducted on two different occasions, the second between 2 and 3 months after performing the first one. One-way analysis of variance or Student’s t test was used to determine statistical differences between groups. Bone mineral density increased with increasing phytate consumption. Multivariate linear regression analysis indicated that body weight and low phytate consumption were the risk factors with greatest influence on bone mineral density. Phytate consumption had a protective effect against osteoporosis, suggesting that low phytate consumption should be considered an osteoporosis risk factor.

    PMID: 19053869 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]
    and also
    Protective effect of myo-inositol hexaphosphate (phytate) on bone mass loss in postmenopausal women.

    López-González AA, Grases F, Monroy N, Marí B, Vicente-Herrero MT, Tur F, Perelló J.


    Servicio de Prevención de Riesgos Laborales de GESMA (Gestión Sanitaria de Mallorca), Palma de Mallorca, Spain.



    The objective of this paper was to evaluate the relationship between urinary concentrations of InsP6, bone mass loss and risk fracture in postmenopausal women.


    A total of 157 postmenopausal women were included in the study: 70 had low (≤0.76 μM), 42 intermediate (0.76-1.42 μM) and 45 high (≥1.42 μM) urinary phytate concentrations. Densitometry values for neck were measured at enrollment and after 12 months (lumbar spine and femoral neck), and 10-year risk fracture was calculated using the tool FRAX(®).


    Individuals with low InsP6 levels had significantly greater bone mass loss in the lumbar spine (3.08 ± 0.65 % vs. 0.43 ± 0.55 %) than did those with high phytate levels. Moreover, a significantly greater percentage of women with low than with high InsP6 levels showed more than 2 % of bone mass loss in the lumbar spine (55.6 vs. 20.7 %). The 10-year fracture probability was also significantly higher in the low-phytate group compared to the high-phytate group, both in hip (0.37 ± 0.06 % vs 0.18 ± 0.04 %) and major osteoporotic fracture (2.45 ± 0.24 % vs 1.83 ± 0.11 %).


    It can be concluded that high urinary phytate concentrations are correlated with reduced bone mass loss in lumbar spine over 12 months and with reduced 10-year probability of hip and major osteoporotic fracture, indicating that increased phytate consumption can prevent development of osteoporosis.

    PMID: 22614760 [PubMed – as supplied by publisher]

  42. Mary E Kopf says:


    Would it be possible to add phytase enzyme, such as is used in animal feed, to a soaking grain?

  43. Stephen Kunin says:

    Can anybody speak to soaking pulses – Indian Dals and split peas and lentils. We are trying to incorporate more pulses and less meat…..anybody have good data to support soaking lentils? and if so, how long and whether lemon juice or whey is the way to go??

  44. James says:

    Great article to balance reading “Wheat Belly” and Low Carbs High Fat / Paleo Diets

    I found that the article helps to balance out what one can find in the Wheat Belly book, Low Carbs High Fat / Paleo diets. There is a leaning away from eating grains in these writings, to improve health. These recommendations do not seem recognize that traditional ways of growing and preparing grain based foods can mitigate any side affects from eating the grains, allowing them to be eaten. Of course, most people only have access to the mass factory produced foods, even in raw form, that are not that healthy to begin with. There is also the time factor, with many families having both parents working, where there is no time to prepare foods in a traditional way, and the old ways have been forgotten.

    One comment on corn, there was no mention of a traditional native corn cooking technique where ash (or other lye source?) is added during the cooking to break the corn down and allow it to be absorbed beneficially into the body. Jamie Oliver remarked on this in one of his TV series when he ate with Native Americans. How does that work with the acid levels?

    One comment on whole wheat/brown bread vs white bread. In Newfoundland, Canada, when refined bleached white flour became readily available in the early/mid 20th century, people turned from making the whole wheat/brown bread to just white bread because it was more modern, and well to do people did not eat brown bread. This apparently had a negative affect on health.

    One comment on basic breads. While visiting a living museum in one of the outports in Newfoundland,(I think it was at Cupids) there was a set-up for an 18th century kitchen where the demonstrator baked a basic “traditional” white bread recipe (unfortunately did not get the recipe), cooked in a Dutch oven next to the fire. The demonstrator remarked that a guide at the site, who was a diabetic, could eat this “traditional” bread with no problem whereas she had problems eating store bought white bread.

    WRT to breads, does pumpernickel bread have any particular benefits?

    Thanks again for the article.

  45. Sharon Moncrief says:

    Having tasted the pure joy of homemade corn tortillas from masa flour, I did a little searching and discovered, according to wikipedia, nixtamalization is a traditional process, maybe 3,000 years old, whereby corn is processed to create hominy and masa. This process substantially improves the digestibility, taste and nutritional effects of corn. I suspect it removes some or all of the phytatic acid as well. Has anyone at WP Foundation looked into this?

  46. Thunderdome says:

    Answer to “What about the benefits of phytate”


    The first study you linked is an epidemiological/observational study. It “calculated” an association based on “questionnaires conducted… 2 and 3 months after performing the first one”. Throw the study in the garbage. An observation linking phytate consumption with good bone health is much more likely to be a result of the participants adapting to their high-phytate diet via lessening their calcium excretion – just because phytates chelate some of the nutrients doesn’t mean that a high-phytate diet can’t be better for bone health than a terrible low-phytate diet (think refined grains, poor fats, low calcium, low vitamin D, and so on). That brings us to experiment two…

    It says it’s a clinical study, and I agree insofar as the fancy chromatographic separation of urine samples was necessary to determine phytate presence. It’s basically another observational study becuase all they did was measure phytate in urine, separate the women into 3 groups (low-med-high phytate intake), make sure they ate similar amounts of phytate for a year by re-measuring phytate, and then measured bone loss. It’s completely worthless. They reference a bunch of fancy theories about phytate’s antioxidant, anti-kidney stones, and anti-calcium-crystallization (most of which were debunked above in the article). As for preventing unwanted calcification by binding calcium, it’s possible – but not proven, something the researchers state in their discussion (whereas the mineral chelating effect is). They say the benefits outweigh the risks, but their cited research is incorrect and their own study cannot make dietary suggestions based on a correlation. If they actually told the subjects to eat a certain diet and controlled for other minerals, THEN it would be a real clinical study. As it stands, it’s a pathetic excuse for actual nutrition research. Ignore it, eat low-phytate.

  47. Jane Ibbetson says:

    Great article! In regards to using rye flour to reduce the phytic acid, how is this done when soaking cornmeal in lime water? Shouldn’t rye flour be soaked in an acid medium or could it be soaked in the lime water?

  48. Dabe says:

    Could you kindly include a table about “PHYTASE IN GRAINS AND OTHER FOODS” in this article?

    Thanks a lot for these information.Could you kindly include a table about “PHYTASE IN GRAINS AND OTHER FOODS” in this article?

  49. lewis says:


    Being somewhat of a zealous food health rookie with abundant ability to eat, I was consuming boatloads of walnuts because of their omega 3 to omega 6 ratios, anyhow I had horrible results I believe due to phytate content. So thanks for the information!.

  50. chris gg says:


    No mention of fiber in this article, one of the main reasons for eating whole unprocessed foods, including the bran. The bran adds bulk and speeds up the passage of food through the gut. It also contains a lot of nutrients, not all of which will be absorbed, nor need to be for optimal health.
    Eating white bread, white rice and and pasta leads to rapid assimilation of carbohydrate in the body which may lead to unwanted weight gain, whereas the fiber in whole grain slows down the digestive processes, leading to more gradual assimilation of the food.
    Phytate is made out to be the Devil as in a religion. Everybody wants things in black and white….the goodies and the baddies. The real world is not like that.
    Phytate does not “grab and deplete” the body of minerals. There is a competetive dynamic equilibrium which controls the amount of minerals absorbed and available to the body in the presence of phytate. This may not be a bad thing.
    I have been making my own 100% stoneground wholemeal sourdough bread for a good while now, but not because of phytate, rather because it tastes good, has a wonderful texture and is nutritious. If I had to spend days preparing grains, nuts and seeds in the way you say I would definitely turn paleo. I love raw nuts and make my own butters from lightly roasted nuts. I eat freshly ground raw seeds every morning at breafast with fruit and yogurt. I have never had any problems at all with digestion or other particular health problems.
    I think we are obsessing far too much with phytates. When you eat an egg, do you soak the shell in lemon juice to get at the calcium, magnesium and other minerals? I doubt it…it probably goes in the compost. It is enough to absorb the vitamins, proteins and essential fats. Nuts and seeds contain a lot of essential oils and proteins which can be absorbed with or without phytate as far as I know. A lot of the minerals will also be absorbed especially in mechanically processed nut butters where the cell walls are more broken down than in ground or chewed raw nuts…phytate does not grab hold of all of the minerals but will of course compete for a share with the digestive enzymes. Let’s enjoy nuts and seeds for what valuable nutrients, textures and flavours they freely give us. In my opinion, soaking and fermenting every phytate containing food is just not necessary.

    • B B says:

      Did you know that phytic acid is a major antioxidant that fights cancer? Phytic acit reduces the chances of colon cancer. Did you know that the studies that show phytic acid is an antinutrient were poorly designed and based on small sample sizes?

    • Lynn says:

      Would you mind sharing your sourdough recipe? I’ve never had a starter or baked it before but have baked typical whole wheat bread.

  51. teancum144 says:

    Fermented Oats

    I’m looking for some clarification on the smell/taste. I used to soak my oats in water with a heaping tablespoon of fresh ground whole wheat flour at room temperature (about 69 F) and never had a problem. However, based on your article and others, I’ve started soaking at about 100 F. However, the smell is not sour (like my sourdough starter smells). To me, it smells bad – like a spoiled smell. I made two bowls. I started both the night before. The first, I ate in the morning. It smelled kinda bad, but I ate it anyway. I didn’t get sick (thank goodness). The second bowl I kept fermenting until the afternoon. When I opened it to eat, it smelled so bad I had to throw it out. To me, my sourdough starter smells good and I’ve eaten it raw (sour, but not bad). This smells much worse and the taste is not good. Thoughts? I thought about adding some probiotics to help ensure only good bacteria wins the battle, but I’m not sure if that would interfere with the phytase?
    Also, what is the purpose of the acid medium?

  52. Murray says:

    Chia seeds: phytic acid and phytase levels?

    Do you have any information on the amount of phytic acid and phytase in Chia Seeds? Does phytic acid tend to cause stomach aches in people? A friend of mine was getting painful stomach aches eating ground chia seeds, but now as long as he soaks the seeds overnight in plain water he has no problems. I assume that means chia has a reasonable amount of phytases (just like Rye?) The anti-inflammatory effects of the Omega 3 have completely resolved my rhinitis issues that used to have me flushing my nose with saline daily. I don’t miss doing that. I am a veterinarian and I used the product with my own and may clients pets as a omega 3 source and have seen some great health benefits in animals a well. Thank you for the great article. Regards, Murray

  53. Lisa Corwin says:


    Could you put this article on my Facebook Newsfeed? It is sooooo informative…necessary for all…Thanks!!!

  54. Lisa Corwin says:

    Flax Seeds

    Thank you for this very informative article. I eat cold milled flax seeds. Do you have any research on the levels of phytic acid and phytase in flax?

    • Zoeknitsinco says:

      I believe that flax seed is the same thing as linseed. The amounts of phytic acid are listed. Just check under linseed. (Linseed oil is made from flax seeds, perhaps a different name due to biological name?)

  55. Susan Furnish says:

    “Living With Phytic Acid”

    I love your information, but the thing that bogs me down here, is that it seems to be so time consuming & planning ahead for preparation to eat just grains or rice or beans or nuts & seeds, that alot of people eat every day! I guess it’s a kick-back from being used to going out to eat and not putting a priority to providing nourishing food AT HOME for our families & loved ones & friends. Thanks!

    • Stan says:

      I have brown rice almost daily. I use just two jars Jar A has the rice and water. When preparing to cook the rice at night some of the water is transferred to jar B along with top up water and fresh rice for the next evening. The jar A is drained of the water, rice is transferred to cooking vessel and jar A is cleaned for the next evening. ITS SIMPLE unless I’m missing something.

  56. Demeter says:

    I find it interesting that when we start looking at one nutrient in the foods we eat, we start to often get into heated discussions and factions often may form. People then often relate everything to this one nutrient and forgetting that nothing in nature is offered only by itself. Natural whole foods are probably still the best foods to consume and processes “food-like” products are probably best avoided completely on a regular basis.

    Here is a snippet from an important article I found:
    Grains are loaded with minerals; therefore, the more grains you eat the more minerals you consume. Phytic acid, also plentiful in grains, is considered an anti-nutrient because of its ability to bind with minerals, such as zinc and calcium, and prevent their absorption. Two often-cited examples of zinc deficiency are among people living in small communities in rural Iran and Australia (Aborigines).10-11 Multiple nutritional factors, not just phytic acid, were involved in both examples. Consumption of large amounts of unleavened bread seemed central to the development of zinc deficiency. Once the bread is leavened, then the activity of phytic acid is reduced, and zinc becomes readily available.12 Soaking, germination, boiling, cooking, and fermentation all inactivate phytic acid and free up minerals for absorption. In real-life situations, for otherwise healthy people, the consumption of grains in recommended amounts has had no adverse effect on mineral status.13

    “Grains are loaded with minerals; therefore, the more grains you eat the more minerals you consume. Phytic acid, also plentiful in grains, is considered an anti-nutrient because of its ability to bind with minerals, such as zinc and calcium, and prevent their absorption. Two often-cited examples of zinc deficiency are among people living in small communities in rural Iran and Australia (Aborigines).10-11 Multiple nutritional factors, not just phytic acid, were involved in both examples. Consumption of large amounts of unleavened bread seemed central to the development of zinc deficiency. Once the bread is leavened, then the activity of phytic acid is reduced, and zinc becomes readily available.12 Soaking, germination, boiling, cooking, and fermentation all inactivate phytic acid and free up minerals for absorption. In real-life situations, for otherwise healthy people, the consumption of grains in recommended amounts has had no adverse effect on mineral status.13

    Phytic acid actually has many beneficial health effects—you won’t want it out of your diet. It acts as a powerful antioxidant and has been shown to reduce blood sugar, insulin, cholesterol and triglycerides.14 Phytic acid is linked to a reduction in heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and other chronic diseases in people.”

    quoted from this page:…grains.htm


  57. Robynn B says:

    Study on popping sorghum

    OK after reading all of this I am left with more questions. In reading all of the questions posted I was excited that many of my questions had been asked but disappointed that they had not been answered. Having recently begun learning the science of gluten free baking I had embraced many new whole grains, only to learn they all needed to be soaked and fermented, I also learned the hard way that starches don’t fare so well when fermented. They pretty much cease to work and turn the recipe into a runny chewy mess. I was unable to validate my findings until reading this article. For that I am very grateful. I have begun extolling the virtues of all new grains and healthier ways to prepare them only to learn one by one there are inherent problems unique to each grain. (OMGosh how will I ever keep the process straight? Yes we need a chart) I have so many unanswered questions and feel so overwhelmed. I was just about to order 5 pounds of my new favorite whole grain sorghum for grinding and popping. As it works very nicely in recipes. Only to learn that it may be near as difficult as corn but not a lot of suggestions here as to how to break down the phytase. HELP!!! So far I have found the following study to share which soes answer someone else’s question posed previously as to whether popping sorghum effected the phytates.


    Effect of popping on carbohydrate, protein, phytic acid and minerals of three varieties (pop sorghum, maldandi and red sorghum) of sorghum were studied. Significant changes (p ≤ 0.05) in the starch degradability including total and soluble amylose content, and resistant starch occurred due to popping; in-vitro protein digestibility along with the content of albumin proteins increased. Starch characteristics had substantial differences among these three varieties which are based on the nature of endosperm and amylose content. Phytic acid content had a reduction of 20%–25% after popping. Glycemic index (GI) determined from kinetic study of enzymatic hydrolysis of sorghum starch was between 85 and 92; the rate constant for hydrolysis for these three varieties were in the range of 0.025 and 0.029 min−1. Popping helped to control phytic acid content in sorghum and enhanced protein as well as starch digestibility.

  58. Will Q says:

    Equipment for soaking

    What do people use to soak legumes/nuts/etc.? My oven has a minimum temperature of 50C (that’s 122F) — although I doubt it is really 50, to be honest, probably more like 40 if I have it way down. I was thinking of buying a dehydrator to soak my stuff in, however, I’m uncertain because I would need some sort of shallow pan to hold the seeds. Any ideas anyone?



    B vitamins

    Are there any B vitamins left after soaking and sprouting (rinse rinse rinse) beans? My aunt, fan of Adele Davis, wants to know. Thank you.

  60. DavidLehenky says:

    Isn’t There Another Solution?

    I always soak and rinse my grains and legumes. I also add ACV toward the end of cooking legumes. However, it seems to me that, if you regularly consume grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes, you would simply ensure an overabundance of minerals and a good source of probiotics. Phytic acid does not remove any and all of your minerals, and a healthy guts flora, according to this piece, can deal with it by producing adequate levels of phytase to neutralize it. From a practical standpoint, it appears that it’s much easier, and equally healthy, to combat the negative effects of phytic acid, as suggested above, rather than take these heroic measures to eliminate it. Just a thought.

  61. Gail Lloyd says:

    all gluten grains (spelt, hard wheat, soft wheat, barley, etc) have gluten, but especially wheat, which has been hybridized through the years to contain a LOT of gluten. The non-gluten legumes & grains (amaranth, mesquite beans, millet, quinoa, teff, etc) do not have gluten, but still have phytates and other anti-nutrients (as do all seeds, per Sally Fallon’s article) so you still have to soak them.
    Here’s an informative article you can read & see what you think:
    In the 2008 paper “Effects of soaking, germination and fermentation on phytic acid, total and in vitrosoluble zinc in brown rice”, Dr. Robert J. Hamer’s group found that soaking alone didn’t have much of an effect on phytic acid in brown rice. However, fermentation was highly effective at degrading it.What I didn’t realize the first time I read the paper is that they fermented intact brown rice rather than grinding it. This wasn’t clear from the description in the methods section but I confirmed it by e-mail with the lead author Dr. Jianfen Liang. He added that the procedure comes from a traditional Chinese recipe for rice noodles. The method they used is very simple:
    1.Soak brown rice in dechlorinated water for 24 hours at room temperature without changing the water. Reserve 10% of the soaking liquid (should keep for a long time in the fridge). Discard the rest of the soaking liquid; cook the rice in fresh water.
    2.The next time you make brown rice, use the same procedure as above, but add the soaking liquid you reserved from the last batch to the rest of the soaking water.
    3.Repeat the cycle. The process will gradually improve until 96% or more of the phytic acid is degraded at 24 hours.
    This process probably depends on two factors: fermentation acidifies the soaking medium, which activates the phytase (phytic acid-degrading enzyme) already present in the rice; and it also cultivates microorganisms that produce their own phytase. I would guess the latter factor is the more important one, because brown rice doesn’t contain much phytase.
    You can probably use the same liquid to soak other grains and beans http://wholehealthsource.blogs…-rice.html

  62. Gail Lloyd says:

    In answer to Belle Burche’s question: no you cannot use nut flour for a sourdough starter. (see recipe below)
    2 c GF flour (non-gluten grain or bean flour only – no nut, coconut, or other starches like tapioca, etc)
    2 c kefir-fermented apple juice (or kefir whey) (helps keep starter from getting moldy in a humid climate) (or water * + honey in a regular climate)
    Mix thoroughly & let stand at least 24 hours before using.
    *Use filtered water or water that has been boiled and cooled (if using tap water, you can let it sit out overnight so the chlorine evaporates out of the water.
    There will be a separation of liquid on top (called the hooch or alcohol) that is darker than the start, and you can just mix it back in (w/a plastic or wooden spoon). Never use metal spoons or bowls w/sourdough.
    Stir, and feed your start with another 1/4 cup of flour and 1/4 cup of water, and stir again.
    Repeat this process for 7 days (every 24 hr), and you have your sourdough start! When you see the bubbles, you have captured wild yeast. Isn’t that crazy? The start should have a sourdough smell. At this point, you can refrigerate it (see FEEDING DIRECTIONS below)

  63. Nutritional Benefits
    Typically the nutritional important things about limes will not differ quite definitely from your lemons.
    They are outstanding sources of supplement D, B6, potassium, folate,
    flavonoids and also the excellent phytochemical, limonene.

    Limonene get anti-cancer effects and help enhance the degree of enzymes this detoxify carcinogens.

    • Laura says:

      Don’t know where you found your information, but lemons do not contain Vitamin D. I would hardly call them an outstanding source for B vitamins as most are under 2% of the daily recommended amount. And what does that have to do with this discussion, anyway?

  64. ej says:

    OK. I believe that chia seeds can be sprouted, not soaked at first. After sprouted, with a sprayer for a few days. Soak in acid water or salt water a few days. Any idess on this?

    Are all phytates destroyed in whiskey and spirit making. Like wold rye whiskey be better than wheat whiskey, and those both better than corn whiskey?

    What do people think of using Kombucha vinegar as a starter? What about using salt, as other sites have used it as a lacto balili producer? Could you possible use Rejuvelac because it is teeming with lacto bacilli? I am about to try these things. thanks

  65. ej says:

    also how do i get teh whey out of my raw milk?

    i was four weeks late to get my milk? its still good but is now clumpy? how would i use that as a souring medium?

    • Susan says:

      To ej: Any of the contents in the container can be used as a souring medium. Simply drain the liquid and save-that is the whey. The milk solids have soured. The whey and the solid milk will last indefinitely.

    • Rhenda Wilson says:

      Whey is a by-product of making cheese and yogurt. Use your raw milk to make those products and you will have plenty of whey.

  66. george neil says:

    I’m fascinated by the amount of comments regarding cereal grains. Everyone is willing to go to great lengths to render them digestible for humans. There are no cereal grain requirements for humans. Why don’t people just stop eating them?

  67. Cary says:

    This information about proper preparation of grains is very enlightening. However, from a practical point-of-view, in today’s society very few people have the time to do this between earning a living, raising children, maintaining a home, etc. I am not sure it is realistic. To resume preparing foods the traditional way, one would have to hire someone to help with such tasks.

  68. Suzanne says:

    Hello: I have a question. So, I love Cashews, eat them just about every day..and you probably guessed it, my dentist told me that my two back molars are starting to decay. So, if I eat the cashews and then floss and brush really really well, does that help mitigate the phytic acid issue? Or does phytic acid get into your bloodstream and cause enamel erosion from the inside out? Just wondering. Thanks!

    • Nerrida says:

      Yes, I believe tooth decay is from the inside out. Rami talks about it in his book Cure Tooth decay. It sounds to me like we all have to buy our nuts raw, soak them for many hours and then dehydrate/roast them. (I’m just replying to your question because there’s so many questions on this site not replied to, its totally frustrating!!!)

      I tell ya, its getting harder and harder to know what the hell to eat and what not to eat, especially when you’ve got a health issue, like tooth decay, going on. Frustrating….but I do wish more of these comments and questions were addressed!!!! Why do people publish things if they are not prepared to follow up on them?

      Anyone here know anyone with no tooth decay! I know one person and she is a vegan and had tooth decay that has now healed. What’s her secret??? For me, the proof is in the gluten-free pudding – whatever she’s doing, its working.

      • Rosy says:

        how bad was her decay and how did she heal it?
        ps…agree about wishing some of these comments/questions would be answered! I love reading these articles followed by questions posted.

      • Susan says:

        I believe that tooth decay is directly linked to intestinal flora. Focus on boosting the good bacteria with lacto fermented foods and beverages and supplements if needed. I have found that to be the key- and stay away from antibiotics.

  69. Kellee says:

    WOW just what I was looking for. Came here by searching for yeast diet

  70. Paulus says:

    I soak Mornflake Oatbran for 24 hrs in water, cider vinegar and salt before making porridge with it in the morning. Should I pour off excess liquid that accumulates on the top, before cooking, or stir it in?
    Does it matter, if the physic acid has been neutralised?
    If I discard some of the liquid I will be throwing away some of the nutrients also, surely?

  71. Jesse says:

    I have been eating large quantities of oat bran everyday for the past 2 months (200+grams dry weight per day). I also take a vitamin D supplement and eat grassfed butter everyday only use 175ppm spring water. I drink probiotic beverages such as kevita and kvass every day. My teeth and bones feel stronger than ever. I attribute that to the elimination of sugar and stabilization of blood sugar. The oat bran can help people escape sugar and flour products.

    I could be wrong, but I suspect that as long as you have a solid diet, it does not matter if you eat foods high in phytates on a regular basis.

  72. jane says:

    Wait a minute..every other nutritionalist and doctor alternative or not agree that btown rice and brown bread is better for you, while here he is saying yo eat the more processed white rice and bread. And what about the heat sensitive omega 3s in nuts that becone free radicals once heated?

  73. faraday says:

    How exactly does one sprout a grain under such high temperatures mentioned in the article? these temps are way above room temperature

    if i boil water to use for sprouting to remove phytic acid, would canning with a mason jar hold the heat for a couple days? i dont think it would

    so is there a way to maintain such high temperatures in a closed jar for several days without interruption?

  74. Berry says:

    I saw this article after I searched ” does nut cause tooth cavity”? I am a Chinese, and never had cavity when I lived in China for 29 years, even I only went to the dentist to clean my teeth for no more than 3 time; however, I was told I have two teeth with cavities in the third year of my life in the US. I had one deep clean and three to four times of regular cleans each year. I keep my similar diet. The only difference is I eat oatmeal for breakfast much often than before, and I totally took three-week antibiotics this year. I am thinking the antibiotics and oatmeal are the main reasons for this problem.

  75. jon says:

    does anyone know how much is in a cup of coffee and medium brown chocolate ?
    and if we eat it seperated from the dinners, can we avoid issues ? anyone knows the timing of its funcioning in the intestines ?

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