Health & Fit: 6 Antinutrients in Beans, Grains, and Veggies and How to Avoid Them

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Yet while antinutrients are capable of blocking nutrient absorption, experts generally agree they pose little danger—at least based on the way most people eat the plants that produce them . You may get more antinutrients than you bargained for if your diet revolves around a select handful of foods. That's not to say antinutrients are harmless. When eaten in larger amounts as part of a diet, or when consumed alone, they may have a negative effect on the way the body functions, according to a 2020 Nutrients study. Some people, like those with certain health conditions, may be more susceptible to

How to Reduce Antinutrients in Your Body. When it comes to lowering the content of “bad” antinutrients that are more harmful than beneficial, here’s what you need to know: When you sprout foods that contain antinutrients , the concentration of the antinutrients usually goes way down. While sprouted grains and other nutrient-blocking seeds won’t be completely free from all antinutrients after soaking and sprouting, it’s a much better option than eating them unsoaked. Related: Phosphoric Acid: The Dangerous Hidden Additive You’ve Likely Consumed. 10 Antinutrients to Avoid .

Are antinutrients real?

Antinutrients certainly sound like trouble. Nutrients are good for us, so why would anyone eat their opposites?

Yet these plant chemicals—yes, they are real—are widely misunderstood. While they can cause problems under certain conditions, they can also be normal parts of a healthy diet, at least in moderate amounts.

"In the grand scheme of things to worry about when it comes to food, antinutrients are not a major concern for most people," says Abbey Sharp, a registered dietitian based in Toronto. "If you're eating a balanced diet and a variety of foods, the effects of antinutrients is not a major concern."

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PHYTIC ACID: STOP EATING THESE FOODS NOW….Phytic acid is well known in medical research circles to be an extremely harmful antinutrient . Christopher Walker is CEO and co-founder of UMZU, a natural products company on a mission to show men and women how to be truly healthy, and how to facilitate self-healing through further understanding of how the human body functions.

As vegans always list legumes a a good protein source I want to know what your take is on the antinutrients found in them . Soaking beans will help remove some of the antinutrients along with other compounds that can be an issue, such as the oligosaccharides in beans that gut flora eat and turn into a lot of gas. And keep in mind, every food has upsides and downsides. Red meats (such as beef), for instance, contains a sialic acid known as Neu5Gc, which can contribute to the formation of carcinomas, especially those resulting in colon cancer and prostate cancer (for men).

Here is a closer look at what antinutrients are, where they come from, and how they affect us.

What are antinutrients?

As the name suggests, antinutrients can block the body's absorption of nutrients. They represent a small group of phytochemicals produced by a wide range of plants, often as a defense from bacterial infections or insect herbivores.

Yet while antinutrients are capable of blocking nutrient absorption, experts generally agree they pose little danger—at least based on the way most people eat the plants that produce them.

You may get more antinutrients than you bargained for if your diet revolves around a select handful of foods. A balanced diet can help you avoid that.

"As long as we keep a balance and a variety, then for the most part those antinutrient claims aren't going to be worrisome because we aren't going to get a massive amount at any one time," says Jennifer Hanes, a registered dietitian based in Lewisville, Texas.

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Antinutrients are found in their highest concentrations in grains , beans , legumes and nuts, but can also be found in leaves, roots and fruits of certain varieties of plants,” writes a team of Bulgarian researchers from the University of Food Technologies in a 2019 review. Various methods can keep antinutrients at low levels. They include cooking, fermentation, soaking and sprouting. A less emphasized method, however, is maintaining a healthy gut microbiota — to nourish the gut bacteria that help break down some of these antinutrients .

The term antinutrient sounds ominous, even scary — something you’d be smart to keep out of your diet. But the full story behind these compounds isn’t so cut and dry, especially considering they ’re found in lots of foods, including many that are highly nutritious and offer significant benefits. Meanwhile, some play both sides — they have both good and not-so-good qualities, and the key is finding the right balance. Regardless, now that antinutrients are garnering more attention in natural-health circles, it’s more important than ever to get the facts straight about what they do and don’t do, and whether you

Anti-antinutrient attitudes

People have dealt with antinutrients for thousands of years by soaking, cooking, sprouting, or otherwise modifying certain plants before eating them.

Heating and cooking seem to be key for neutralizing the negative effects of certain antinutrients. And some antinutrients may even have therapeutic properties on top of the known health benefits offered by vegetables in general.

Recent concerns about antinutrients seem to have arisen largely from fad diets, Hanes says, casting undue doubt on the health value of some vegetables.

"They're banking on you not reading anything but what they're telling you to," she says.

That's not to say antinutrients are harmless. When eaten in larger amounts as part of a diet, or when consumed alone, they may have a negative effect on the way the body functions, according to a 2020 Nutrients study.

Some people, like those with certain health conditions, may be more susceptible to these negative effects for various reasons, the researchers wrote. But those circumstances are not typical, they noted, and they come with important caveats:

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(Related: 6 Antinutrients in Beans , Grains , and Veggies and How to Avoid Them ). If you need or simply want to choose gluten-free grains and grain -based foods, it's far easier to do that today than ever before, thanks to its burgeoning popularity and continuing cuisine innovation. In fact, from 2021 to 2027, the gluten-free food market globally is forecasted to grow at a compound annual growth rate of nine percent, according to Market Watch.

"These compounds are rarely ingested in their isolated format, as we know from how these foods are traditionally consumed," the researchers wrote. That is, the meals you make usually include more than one food item.

"Plant-based diets which contain these compounds also contain thousands of other compounds in the food matrix, many of which counteract the potential effects of the 'anti-nutrients,'" they added.

In other words, compounds in your food may block the antinutrients that block the nutrients. (Confused yet?)

a bunch of different types of vegetables © Enrique Díaz / 7cero/Getty Images

Major antinutrient groups

Here are some of the major antinutrient groups found in beans, grains, and veggies—and what you should know about each.

Glucosinolates

Produced by plants in the Brassicaceae family, glucosinolates are a large group of phytochemicals found in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, kale, mustard, and horseradish.

While the precise function of glucosinolates in plants remains unclear, the pungent taste of isothiocyanates—small molecules formed from glucosinolate precursors—may provide defense against bacteria or leaf-eating insects like caterpillars.

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Glucosinolates are goitrogens, or naturally occurring substances that can interfere with the thyroid gland and make it harder for the gland to make thyroid hormones.

Goitrogen concentration varies widely by plant species, though, and many popular foods, including broccoli and brussels sprouts, contain glucosinolate levels that are too low to cause a physiological effect and could even provide benefits.

"In addition to beneficial glucosinolates, cruciferous vegetables provide a plethora of other health-promoting phytochemicals, fiber, and essential vitamins and minerals," according to the researchers of the Nutrients study.

The researchers do note, however, that glucosinolates may pose a risk for people with thyroid disease or those who are at higher risk of thyroid disease.

But that's only if they consume higher-goitrogen plants (think Russian kale and collard greens) every day for long periods.

Even then, the reduced iodine uptake—preventing iodine uptake is one way goitrogens  interfere with thyroid function—can be offset by cooking with iodized salt.

Lectins

Lectins are a wide-ranging family of proteins found in many different organisms, including animals and plants.

Hundreds of plant lectins exist in various species, but they are more heavily concentrated in certain types, namely raw legumes and whole grains.

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Lectins can interfere with the absorption of several nutrients, including calcium, iron, phosphorus, and zinc.

Lectin-rich foods can also cause food poisoning if not prepared properly, but that risk can be managed relatively easily by consuming them in their whole and cooked form.

While some people have good reasons for limiting lectins, these chemicals pose virtually no danger to most of us, Hanes argues.

"There are certain people who don't tolerate some of the lectins as well as other people do, and so they may have some GI [gastrointestinal] problems as a result," she says. "But one person not tolerating them doesn't make them bad for everybody."

Oxalates

Lots of plants produce oxalic acid, or oxalates, for purposes that may include defense, calcium regulation, and detoxification of heavy metals.

Found in green leafy vegetables as well as tea, oxalates can bind with calcium and prevent it from being absorbed in the body.

Calcium oxalate is a major component of kidney stones, and oxalates in certain foods, like spinach, are sometimes framed as a risk factor.

That may be true, at least for some people. But the relationship between oxalate-rich foods and kidney stones is less simple than scientists once thought.

Per the Nutrients study, "oxalate-containing foods possess an array of protective, beneficial compounds, which may outweigh any possible negative effects of oxalate."

As with other antinutrients, it's all about moderation.

"I wouldn't have four pounds of spinach every day, but I wouldn't avoid everything with oxalates in it," says Hanes.

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Phytates

Phytates, or phytic acid, are widespread in the plant kingdom, serving as a storage system for phosphate, an energy source, and an antioxidant for germinating seeds.

Found in many seeds, legumes, whole grains, and some nuts, they can hinder the absorption of calcium as well as iron, magnesium, and zinc.

Phytates are also potent antioxidants, and eating them as part of a plant-based diet is more beneficial and tends to exceed the impact it can have on mineral absorption.

Phytoestrogens

Phytoestrogens are plant compounds with a structural similarity to estradiol, the primary female sex hormone.

This similarity lets them bind to human estrogen receptors, giving them some degree of influence on estrogenic activity, which has led to inflated fears about foods that contain them.

"I think the one I see most maligned is the phytoestrogens in soy," Hanes says. "People get scared because it says estrogen. Men tend to get scared because, you know, estrogen. But there are lots of good things about it."

So let's set the record straight: phytoestrogens don't raise your estrogen level like a lot of people imagine they do.

And eaten in moderation, they won't raise your risk for breast cancer—another fear you may have seen floating around the Internet. In fact, some research shows they soy may actually lower breast cancer risk.

Tannins

Tannins are found in an array of plant foods and drinks, from apples and berries to tea and coffee.

Some studies have found tannins can interfere with iron absorption when taken in isolation, but other studies examining whole diets have found otherwise, according to the Nutrients study.

Cutting back on tea around meals might be worth a shot for someone with severe issues with iron absorption, Hanes says, but tannins are rarely a concern based on the way most people consume tea or coffee.

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"If I was drinking 20 cups of tea a day, I would probably start seeing some problems," she says. "But how most people drink tea, you're not going to get to that level."

The post 6 Antinutrients in Beans, Grains, and Veggies and How to Avoid Them appeared first on The Healthy.

How To Freeze Fresh Green Beans To Get That Just-Picked Taste All Year Long .
No, you can't just pop them in the freezer."You are in control of their freshness, cleanliness, and how they’re processed," says Ibrahim-Jones. Additionally, you have control over exactly how they're cut. "You may want to chop them or keep them whole.

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