Nuts and Phytic Acid: Should You Be Concerned?
Mark’s Daily Apple
by Mark Sisson: Top
10 Junk Foods in Disguise
like nuts? They're crunchy, fatty, nutritious, and convenient. They
travel well. Tossing them into the air and catching them with your
mouth is a fun way to impress any onlookers (this effect is enhanced
if you sit in a chair backward at the same time). They even turn
into butter. Nuts are the common bond between all dietary sects,
it seems. Vegans love them for the protein. Ancestral eaters accept
them, some begrudgingly. Weston A. Pricers have to soak, sprout,
dehydrate, and ferment
them before they'll even consider eating nuts, but in the end, they
love them. Mainstream healthy dieters dig their "healthy fats."
Epidemiologists, squirrels, and birds laud them. They're self-contained
little morsels of instant edibility, good raw and roasted
alike. What's not to like?
the phytic acid. Wait – isn't that the stuff you find in grains
Yes. Should we be concerned? Let's take a look...
I was hoping
to get your take on phytic acid in nuts. If nuts are so good for
us, and beans and grains so bad, but all three contain a good
amount of phytic acid, what's the deal?
I like nuts.
I guess what I'm really asking is: can I still eat them?
Yes, it's true.
Nuts contain a lot of phytic acid, AKA phytate, AKA IP-6, AKA the
storage form of a plant's phosphorus, and antioxidant to the seed
in times of oxidative stress (PDF).
When something that contains it is eaten, phytic acid binds to minerals
magnesium, calcium, chromium,
in the gastrointestinal tract, unless it's reduced or nullified
sprouting, and/or fermentation. Bound minerals generally cannot
be absorbed in the intestine, and too many bound minerals can lead
to mineral deficiencies. Animals who produce phytase – the enzyme
that breaks down phytate – can thrive on phytate-rich foods. Rats,
for example, produce
ample amounts of phytase and can handle more dietary phytate
without exhibiting signs of mineral deficiencies. Since humans produce
around 30 times less phytase than rats, phytate-heavy diets might
be problematic for humans.
By dry weight,
nuts generally contain more phytic acid than similar amounts
of grains and legumes. If you don't believe me, take a look at this
table, pulled from Chris Kresser's excellent
article on phytic acid in nuts:
per 100 grams of dry weight
Cocoa powder 1684-1796
Oat flakes 1174
Peanut roasted 952
Brown rice 840-990
Peanut ungerminated 821
Peanut germinated 610
Wild rice flour 634-752.5
Yam meal 637
Refried beans 622
Corn tortillas 448
Entire coconut meat 270
White flour 258
White flour tortillas 123
Polished rice 11.5-66
So, 100 grams
of almonds has between 1138 and 1400 mg of phytic acid. Walnuts
have 982 mg, and 100 grams of Brazil nuts tops the list with over
100 grams of brown rice has between 840 and 990 mg, lentils have
779 mg per 100 grams, and oats contain just over 1100 milligrams.
what's the deal? Why do nuts get a pass, while grains and legumes
First of all,
and legumes are generally seen as dietary staples. They form the
foundation of meals. People don't have a "small handful" of refried
pinto beans (and not just because that's an incredibly messy way
to eat them) or "one or two" grains of brown rice. They eat plates
of this stuff, they rely on them for protein and calories, and sure
enough, cultures whose diets are based on (improperly prepared)
grains and legumes often suffer the symptoms of widespread mineral
deficiencies, like nutritional
Nuts, on the
other hand, are an adornment to a meal or a snack in between. A
condiment. They are not meals themselves. And though I hear stories
of people going Primal and subsequently going crazy with nuts, eating
almond flour bread with every meal and downing a pound of pecans
each day, I just don't see it. I could be mistaken, of course. If
I am wrong, and you guys are indeed eating large quantities of phytate-rich
nuts every day, don't do that. Keep it to about a handful (which
is between one and two ounces, depending on the hand) per day. But
my general sense is that people aren't eating copious amounts of
nuts. They're eating some nuts in between meals, on those days when
they just need a snack. They're making almond meal pancakes once
or twice a month (cause let's face it – they're kind of a drag to
make and clean up after).
the rest of the article
to Lew's recent podcast with Mark Sisson
May 18, 2012
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