I will be the first one to admit that I did not even know there is such a thing as Anti-nutrients. As I asked around and read on the web, I was impressed by the knowledge.
Anti-nutrients are compounds found in foods that interfere with the absorption of beneficial nutrients and minerals. They prevent the body from being an efficient micro-nutrient sponge that it was meant to be.
Five Types Of Anti-nutrients
🍏 Lectins: Found in all food plants, especially in seeds, legumes and grains.
🍏 Phytic Acid (Phytates): Mainly found in seeds, grains and legumes
🍏 Oxalic Acid (Oxalates): is an organic acid found in many plants.
🍏 Tannins: A class of antioxidant polyphenols that may impair the digestion of various nutrients
🍏 Protease inhibitors: They interfere with protein digestion by inhibiting digestive enzymes.
People and animals pull the nourishment we need from our surroundings, but as evolution would have it, many plants developed the capacity to fight back. Nutrient-sapping phytochemicals protect tasty edibles from being devoured to the point of extinction.
This defense mechanism taught animals that over-consumption resulted in sickness and sometimes death. Animals either evolved to digest the antinutrient-rich plants, or they stopped eating them.
Do we really need to avoid them?
Nutritionists say that they are not a major concern for most people but may become a problem among people who base their diets almost solely on grains and legumes. The most important anti-nutrients are phytate, tannins, protease inhibitors, calcium oxalate, and lectins. These are not bad, per say, as anti-nutrients may have some beneficial health effects as well. And luckily, these can be degraded with a few simple methods.
How to reduce or eliminate Anti-nutrients in your food
🍏 Soaking: Most of the antinutrients in these foods are found in the skin. Since many antinutrients are water-soluble, they simply dissolve when foods are soaked.
🍏 Sprouting: Sprouting is a period in the life cycle of plants when they start emerging from the seed. This natural process increases the availability of nutrients in seeds, grains and legumes. During sprouting, changes take place within the seed that leads to the degradation of antinutrients such as phytate and protease inhibitors.
🍏 Fermentation: Fermentation of grains and legumes leads to a significant reduction in phytate and lectins.
🍏 Boiling/High Heating: High heat, especially when boiling, can degrade antinutrients like lectins, tannins and protease inhibitors. In contrast, phytate is heat-resistant and not as easily degraded with boiling.
The most effective way to reduce Antinutrients in plant foods is to combine several different elimination strategies. Combining methods may even degrade some of the antinutrients completely. As an example, soaking, sprouting and lactic acid fermentation decreased the phytate in quinoa by 98% (1).
Cooking does not destroy oxalic acid. However, blanching your greens for a few minutes and disposing of the water leaches out roughly one-third of the oxalic acid.
This information is for preliminary knowledge only. Please talk to your Doctor before making any lifestyle change.
Researched and Presented By Anuradha Grover-Tejpal. She is a writer, Bloom’s Social Media Manager and a simple-life enthusiast.