Phytic acid is a natural component of grains of cereals, nuts and seeds of legumes.It is indispensable in the process of plant growth, but for man it is an anti-nutrient substance, because it inhibits the absorption of mineral components from food into the bloodstream.Which products contain the most phytic acid and how to neutralize it?

Phytic acid is classified as anti-nutritional substances, substances found in foods that limit or prevent the use of nutrients or have an adverse effect on the body.Anti-nutritive substances can naturally be found in food or penetrate into it in the process of growth or production.Phytic acid is naturally found primarily in cereal grains and legume seeds, where it performs specific functions.


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Phytic acid – characteristics

The highest amounts of phytic acid are stored in the seed coat, not inside the grain, therefore the main source of this ingredient in the human diet are whole grains and wholemeal flour products.Phytic acid is usually found in the form of phytate or acid salt with copper, zinc, magnesium, calcium, manganese, iron and cobalt.Phytic acid is very important in the process of germination and growth of the plant.Plants break down phytates using a phytase enzyme to phytic acid and free mineral components.The body of man and most animals can not produce this enzyme, therefore micro and macro elements combined with phytic acid are not available to them for use in the process of digestion and absorption.Hence, phytic acid is considered an anti-nutrient.


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Phytic acid – effect on the absorption of minerals

Phytic acid has a strong chelating effect, i.e. it has the ability to bind to mineral components.The nutrients supplied with food in the light of the digestive tract combine with phytic acid and form insoluble complexes with it, so they can not be absorbed into the bloodstream and used by the body’s cells.

The degree of limiting the absorption of mineral components is dependent on the amount of phytic acid in the products, and the process begins when the meal contains about 2 mg of acid.

One of the elements, the most difficult to deliver with the diet, is iron, which is poorly absorbed from food.Taking iron together with phytic acid in an amount of 5-10 mg in a meal limits its digestibility even by half.It is worth noting that phytic acid binds not only to health-beneficial minerals, but also heavy metals that get into the body through various routes and are toxic to it.Chelated by the acid lose their unfavorable properties and are excreted.

How to neutralize phytic acid in food?

Soaking – leaving legumes or cereal seeds overnight in water removes even 37% phytic acid.The water from soaking should be poured off and the product should be cooked in a fresh portion.Unfortunately, in this way, we also deprive some of the minerals.

Fermentation – preparation of sourdough bread causes a greater breakdown of phytic acid than in the case of bread on yeast.If you want to limit the amount of phytic acid in your diet, choose sourdough bread instead of yeast.

Adding vitamin C – vitamin C neutralizes the action of phytic acid.We can add it to a meal in the form of lemon juice or combine cereal with vegetables rich in ascorbic acid, e.g. peppers.

Enzymatic methods – to the increasingly popular flours from legumes, and also from cereals, you can add a phytase enzyme in the production process that will break down phytic acid.The process can be used in the production of bread.In addition, it improves the texture of the finished product.


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