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Whole grains

(Part I) Whole grain toxicity - Phytic acid contained in popular foods (Opinion)

Saturday, November 06, 2010 by: Rami Nagel
Tags: whole grains, phytic acid, health news

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(NewsTarget) 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 our culture, be it the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) or the health food crowd, generally promotes consumption of high-phytate foods like commercial whole wheat bread and all-bran breakfast cereals. But phytate rich foods are not healthy for us.

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, (Footnote 1) needed for the breakdown of proteins in the stomach, and amylase, (F 2) needed for the breakdown of starch into sugar. Trypsin, needed for protein digestion in the small intestine, is also inhibited by phytates. (F 3)

A diet high in phytate-rich grains has many powerful anti-nutritional effects. Many health problems can 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.

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. (F 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. (F 5)

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. They can be difficult to digest unless fermented for long periods.

Phytic Acid Levels in some foods (F 6,7)
Figures are in milligrams per 100 grams of dry weight
100% Wheat bran cereal 3,290
Soy beans 1000 - 2,220
Cocoa powder 1684-1796
Oats 1370
Brown rice 1250
Oat flakes 1174
Almond 1138 - 1400
Walnut 982
Lentils 779
Peanut germinated 610
Hazel nuts 648 - 1000
Wild rice flour 634 - 752.5
Refried beans 622
Corn tortillas 448
Corn 367
White flour 258
White flour tortillas 123

Stay tuned for the next installment of "Whole grain toxicity" where we'll look more deeply into the health effects of phytic acid.

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.
3. Singh M and Krikorian D. Inhibition of trypsin activity in vitro
by phytate. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 1982
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. Figures collected from various sources. Inhibitory effect of nuts
on iron absoprtion. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 1988
47:270-4; J Anal At Spectrum. 2004 19,1330-1334; Journal of
Agriculture and Food Chemistry 1994, 42:2204-2209.
7. Reddy NR and others. Food Phytates, 1st edition, CRC Press, 2001, pages 30-32

About the author

Ramiel Nagel is the internationally published author of Cure Tooth Decay and Healing Our Children In "Cure Tooth Decay" Nagel, reveals how your teeth can heal naturally because they were never designed to decay in the first place! Now there is a natural way to take control of your dental health by changing the food that you eat. Receive 19 free lessons on how to stop cavities
"Healing Our Children" explains the true causes of disease conditions of pregnancy and childhood so that you can avoid and prevent them. It provides essential natural health programs so that mothers and their new babies can optimize their health during the times of preconception, pregnancy, lactation and early childhood. Receive a free chapter of Healing Our Children
Free health information is also available on the topics of:
A Program for preconception health based on indigenous wisdom.
The cause of disease and the end of suffering of humanity.

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