Phytate–Friend or Anti-Nutrient?

Hi there!
This week, we’re going to talk about phytate or phytic acid and whether it’s healthful or harmful.
Phytate is a unique natural compound found in seeds, nuts, grains, and legumes. This compound stores phosphorus.  Once the seed sprouts, that phosphorus is released and used by the young plant for survival.

Phytic acid has been labeled as an anti-nutrient because it hinders the absorption of some minerals such iron, zinc, and calcium. It’s possible that this can cause mineral deficiencies among people who don’t eat a balanced diet.
So is it really an anti-nutrient?
Is it totally bad for your health?
No, it’s not. In fact, it has a number of benefits!

Phytate Benefits

Phytate only blocks the absorption of the aforementioned minerals at the time it is ingested and doesn’t affect the absorption of minerals in subsequent meals.
And besides, the benefits of high-phytate foods far outweigh its anti-nutrient ability. The following are some of the health benefits of phytate:

  1. Phytate is anti-cancer. Not only does phytic acid stop the growth of cancer cells, but it also boosts the immune system so that the natural killer cells are able to get rid of cancer cells without hurting the normal cells. They cut down blood supply to tumors so that the tumor is starved and not able to thrive. What’s better news is that phytate allows cancer cells to go back into normal cells. It’s that fascinating?!
  2. Phytate protects from osteoporosis. In a study, women who had high phytate levels had the lowest levels of bone loss in the hips and spine.
  3. Phytate prevents kidney stones. The presence of phytate inhibits or stops the crystallization of calcium salts and thus prevents the formation of renal or kidney stones.

So generally, phytic acid isn’t bad for your health just because it is an anti-nutrient. Unless, of course, you don’t eat a balanced diet.

For example, meat is a heme source of iron and is more efficiently absorbed by the body in contrast to non-heme iron which is derived from plants. It’s the same with zinc.

So it’s ideal if your diet consists of both plant and meat sources of these minerals to avoid having problems with mineral deficiencies. Plus, you can try these 3 strategies to lessen or degrade phytate in your plant sources:

  1. Soaking. Legumes and cereals can be soaked in water overnight so that their phytate content can be reduced. 
  2. Sprouting. Also known as germination, sprouting degrades the phytic acid in seeds, nuts, and legumes.
  3. Fermentation. This process allows the formation of organic acids that break down phytate.

 Overall, your body receives more benefits than harm from phytate. It only becomes significantly a problem if your mineral sources are not varied. However, there are techniques that can reduce the phytate content of your food, such as soaking, sprouting, and fermentation.
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Until next time, I’m wishing you unstoppable health!


Soaked Nuts & Seeds

People often ask me if it’s healthy to eat nuts and seeds. My answer?

It depends.

When nuts and seeds are raw or roasted, they are less digestible and absorbable. I’ll explain why.

Nuts and seeds have high amounts of enzyme inhibitors–enzymes are what your body uses to digest foods. When you soak nuts in warm salt water, there are digestive and health benefits. The water helps neutralize many of the enzyme inhibitors that interfere with digestion as well as increase the bioavailability of many nutrients, especially b-vitamins and protein. The salt helps activate enzymes that deactivate the enzyme inhibitors present in nuts.

Within 7-24 hours (depending on the seed or nut), many of the enzyme inhibitors are broken down. Then you can use the oven or dehydrator to make the nuts or seeds nice and crispy (and shelf stable).

The harder the nut or seed, the longer it needs to soak. Here are some good guidelines:

Long-soak nuts (almonds, pistachios, and hazelnuts) need at least 8 hours.

Medium-soak nuts and seeds (pecans, walnuts, Brazil nuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds), 6-7 hours

Short-soak nuts (cashews, macadamias, and pine nuts) have the highest fat content and require only 2 to 4 hours soaking. I recommend not soaking these nuts for longer than 4 hours as it breaks down their healthy oils.


  • 2 cups of raw, organic nuts or seeds (it is better to soak one kind per container, not mixed nuts, for example in case of varying soaking time)
  • 3-4 cups of warm filtered water (to cover nuts)
  • 1 tablespoon of salt

What to Do:

  • Place the warm water in a large bowl or jar (half gallon or larger). Add the salt and let dissolve.
  • Add the nuts or seeds, making sure they are completely submerged in the water.
  • Leave uncovered on the counter or other warm place (not the refrigerator) for at least 7 hours, preferably overnight.
  • Rinse in a colander and spread on a baking sheet or dehydrator sheet and add some sea salt if desired. Bake in the oven at the lowest temperature (150-170 F if your oven goes that low) or dehydrate until completely dry. This step is important, as any remaining moisture in the nuts or seeds can cause them to mold. Dehydrating time can often be up to 24 hours. You’ll know they are done when you eat one and it’s nice and crispy (no chewiness).
  • NOTE: If you plan to use nuts or seeds to make homemade almond milk or any other variety, this is the best time, as they are already softened.