Fear Phytates No More

Oats in bowlPhytate and Phytic acid are naturally occurring substances in many plant foods, such as grains, nuts, seeds and some legumes. There used to be a purely theoretical worry, mostly voiced by some anti-vegetarian dietitians and some proponents of competing diets such as the paleo diet, that these phytates would inhibit the absorption of important minerals, such as zinc and iron and to a lesser extent calcium and magnesium, even though  little if any problems were encountered in practice. Well, that worry can finally be laid to rest.

Many of you will be aware that we all have “good bacteria” lining our digestive tracts, performing a variety of beneficial functions. Now medical researchers have determined that the good bacteria, fostered in the intestines of vegetarians, break down virtually 100% of the phytates consumed in a plant-based diet. So, while the concern over phytates was always in question, the beneficial advantages of consuming plenty of grains, legumes, and a handful of nuts now and again, are not.