Phytic Acid in Nuts, Seeds, Cocoa, and Coconut

Other posts in this series: Introduction to Fermented Cereal Week,, Phytic Acid in Grains and Legumes , Is Fermenting Grains Traditional?

I have long soaked and dehydrated my nuts and seeds. My understanding from Nourishing Traditions was that this removed enzyme inhibitors and made them more digestible. I personally find that when I soak and dehydrate nuts and seeds that they are much more digestible and I won’t get a stomachache after consuming them.

However, the Weston Price Foundation recently updated some of the information about nuts and seeds in their recent article in the Wise Traditions journal and it brought more information in regard to the phytic acid content of nuts and seeds. I have found a wide gap in information in my own study (which has been frustrating!). I would have liked to find and research and double check a lot of this information myself, but have been unable to find very much on this topic. Because nuts and seeds are not a huge portion of most people’s diets, there has not been the same glut of studies and research on it. However, I thought that it would be helpful to at least share the information from the Wise Tradition’s article, Living with Phytic acid by Ramiel Nagel.

A book entitled Food Phytates discusses current research on the “positives” of phytic acid, as mentioned in my last post. I would have loved to purchase the book for my research but as it was over two hundred dollars it wasn’t quite in the budget! On wikipedia (I know, I know, not the most reliable source of information!),  a chart is listed, using this book as the source, for the percentage of phytic acid in food. Ramiel Nagel lists the exact same chart in the Wise Traditions article on Phytic acid, so I am assuming it’s correct. On it you can see that almonds and brazilnuts as well as sesame seeds list very high on the list, containing a much higher percentage of phytic acid then even whole wheat flour does.

Ramiel also gives another chart which he lists the sources for as “various”.

FIGURE 2: PHYTIC ACID LEVELS8
In milligrams per 100 grams of dry weight

Brazil nuts 1719
Cocoa powder 1684-1796
Brown rice 12509
Oat flakes 1174
Almond 1138 – 1400
Walnut 982
Peanut roasted 952
Peanut ungerminated 821
Lentils 779
Peanut germinated 610
Hazel nuts 648 – 1000
Wild rice flour 634 – 752.5
Yam meal 637
Refried beans 622
Corn tortillas 448
Coconut 357
Corn 367
Entire coconut meat 270
White flour 258
White flour tortillas 123
Polished rice 11.5 – 66
Strawberries 12

Nuts and Seeds

Here you also see that nuts, including brazil, almonds, walnuts are high on the list.

According to Ramiel, nuts have about the same amount of phytic acid or higher than grains. This means if you are on a grain free diet and have replaced all of your wheat products with almond flour products, you will still be getting the same amount of phytic acid or more as you would with unsoaked grains. (Though you will be getting a higher protein, less starchy “bread” product). Seeds, according to Ramiel are even higher in phytic acid. I love my soaked and dehydrated pumpkin seeds, but according to Ramiel, they are one example of a seed high in phytates!

Cocoa and Coconut

I also thought it very interesting that cocoa can be quite high in phytic acid! “Raw unfermented cocoa beans and normal cocoa powder are extremely high in phytates. Processed chocolates may also contain phytates. White chocolate and cocoa butter probably does not contain phytates.” Ramiel suggested consuming only fermented cocoa beans, and I also wondered if the traditional “roasting” that takes place in processing cocoa helps break down the phytic acid at all, though he does mention that “normal” cocoa powder is high. (Just in case you are wondering, this does not discourage me from drinking my hot cocoa or consuming my occasional chocolate treat!).

Finally, I have long wondered about coconut and whether it had a high amount of a phytic acid in it. I will sometimes make coconut flour baked goods, and wondered whether or not it was really low in phytic acid as most of us have been assuming. When you look at the second chart, you will see that “entire coconut meat ” is listed right above white flour (which is generally thought to be very low in phytic acid). So eating a whole coconut meat (which I believe would actually be traditionally steamed before eating) would have fairly low phytic acid. Then it lists “coconut”, which I am unsure of whether it’s referring to coconut flakes or dried coconut or what, as similar to corn in phytates. This makes me question whether or not coconut flour, having had the fat and other parts of the coconut meat removed, would be even higher in phytates. An interesting question that I am not able to find the answer too. However, one study did find that coconut is much lower in phytates compared to other nuts. (1)

One bit of research on iron absorption

The same study that found that coconut wasn’t as high in phytates as other nuts, also found that walnuts, peanuts, almonds and hazelnuts decreased the absorption rate of iron even more than bread meals! If you have any iron issues, you may want to consider not consuming many nuts. Coconut did not reduce iron absorption significantly, which I would assume was because it was so much lower in phytates. (1)

Reducing Phytic Content in Nuts and Seeds

The advice Ramiel offered (with the note that there is very little research to know for sure how to reduce phytic acid levels in nuts and seeds) was to soak nuts and seeds for 18 hour, and then dehydrate at very low temperatures and then roast or cook the nuts. He felt this would likely reduce a large portion of the phytic acid, and even soaking 7 hours was likely to reduce phytic acid levels.

I would add that if you were to try it, you will probably want to drain and rinse the nuts half way through the soaking period as even soaking nuts for 12 hours for me can result in a slightly funny smell in the soaking water. Here’s an outline of the process.

1. Cover nuts with water (most likely warm water would be the most helpful) and let “soak” in a warm place in your house for 18 hours. I would suggest that you drain, rinse and add new water half way through. Another researcher suggests that you chop nuts before soaking as it increases the outer surface of the nuts.

2. Dehydrate at a very low temperature either using an oven at a very low temperature, or a food dehydrator or even out in the hot sun if you are blessed to live where temperatures are hot.

3. Then roast in the oven or on the stove or cook.

But even just soaking and dehydrating is likely to reduce a percentage of the phytic acid (and just doing that certainly helps my tummy!). Or, simply roasting your nuts will also reduce some of the phytic acid. It’s just double the phytic acid removing powers if you do both.

Update: I thought that this update by Ramiel Nagel in the Summer 2010 Wise Traditions Journal helpful in regard to nuts.

“We still do not have adequate information on nut preparation to say with any certainty how much phytic acid is reduced by various preparation techniques. Soaking in salt water and then dehydrating to make “crispy nuts” makes the nuts more digestible and less likely to cause intestinal discomfort, but we don’t know whether this process significantly reduces phytic acid, although it is likely to reduce at least a portion of the phytic acid.

Roasting probably removes a significant portion of phytic acid. Roasting removes 32-68 percent of phytic acid in chick peas, and roasting grains removes about 40 percent of phytic acid. Germinated peanuts have 24 percent less phytic acid then ungerminated peanuts. Several indigenous groups cooked and or roasted their nuts or seeds. I notice that I like the taste and smell of roasted nuts.

The real problem with nuts comes when they are consumed in large amounts such as almond flour as a replacement for grains in the GAPS diet. For example, an almond flour muffins contains almost seven hundred milligrams of phytic acid, so consumption should be limited to one per day. Eating peanut butter every day would also be problematic.”

My Conclusion

Based on the information I have right now, I will continue to not consume raw nuts and seeds (they give me a stomachache anyway), but soak and dehydrate, and/or roast them. I won’t always worry about doing both, especially if I am only using a small handful of nuts or seeds. I will still have chocolate here and there without too many worries since it’s only a small amount.  Because nuts, seeds, chocolate and coconut flour does not make up a large portion of our diet, I am not too concerned about phytates from them. However, if you do consume a lot of these food items, then might want to  consider how to better break down the phytic acid, or not allow them to be a large portion of your diet, especially if you are dealing with any mineral deficiencies.

Photo Credit

Sources:

Wise Traditions, Vol 11, Number 1, Spring 2010, Living with Phytic Acid by Ramiel Nagel

(1) Am J Clin Nutr. 1988 Feb;47(2):270-4. Inhibitory effect of nuts on iron absorption. Department of Medicine, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa.

Food Phytates

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Comments

  1. Betty says

    What about baking with almond flour? Is this not good? Is this why some people have a hard time with too many almond flour baked goods? What can we do about it? Are you saying that coconut flour would be better/worse than almond flour? Right now I’m grain free and get so frustrated that my diet may not be limited enough though I struggle with the limits I already have. Sorry for all the questions, I’m still trying to figure this out. I made my own granola out of soaked and dehydrated almond slivers, pecans, sunflower seeds. I added shredded coconut, butter, honey and vanilla and dehydrated this mixture. It tastes GREAT! But I don’t seem to be digesting it well. Any ideas?

    • KimiHarris says

      Betty,

      It’s possible that either the phytic acid or the enzyme inhibitors (or both) in almonds (and almond flour) is the cause of the digestive issues many experience with almond flour baked goods. I was surprised to see how high almonds ranked in the charts! I would assume that coconut flour wouldn’t be as high in phytic acid from the charts listed above (though if you have digestive issues, I would still limit it as it’s extremely high in fiber which can bother the tummy).

      As far as your granola (which sounds delish), I did have this one idea. You could soak and dehydrate the seeds and nuts, and then you could roast it with the honey and butter and vanilla, that way you could have both the soaking and the roasting the Ramiel suggests. If Ramiel is right, seeds are even higher in phytic acid, so you could also try leaving out the sunflower seeds and seeing if that helps. I might try it once and see if it makes any difference for you.

      • David says

        Ramiel is ridiculous. Roasting nuts to lower the phytic acid? From the data available, roasted nuts may have MORE phytic acid. See the peanuts in the list above. Not only that, roasting nuts causes Acrylamide to form, which is a carcinogen, along with destroying the enzymes and damaging the oils.

        • says

          Roasting certain nuts does cause acrylamide but not in peanuts. [source] If acrylamide is detected in peanut butter, it’s most likely the additional ingredients. And if you are really concerned about high levels of acrylamide in you body, you will want to stop consuming fried foods, breakfast cereals, coffee, toast, pie and the list goes on. [source]

          However I was wondering the same thing about phytic acid levels. In your second chart, it clearly states that roasted peanuts contains the highest amount of phytic acid. Higher than even raw peanuts, but then you recommend roasting to remove the acid. Could you explain this for me? Thank you!

          • says

            Deborah,

            Excellent catch in regard to the peanuts. I am thinking it’s because peanuts aren’t true nuts…so perhaps roasting could help reduce levels in say, a walnut, but not a legume, which I believe the peanut is technically.

    • says

      Betty, you can soak your almond flour overnight in water mixed with whey, Kefir, Yogurt, or lemon juice. This will help reduce phytic acid. Better option would be to soak whole almonds with a tablespoon of salt for 12 hours. Then dehydrate them and store them in your freezer. Process them in my food processor to make an almond meal for baked goods.

  2. says

    Wow, Kimi, this is really impressive. I always like to get into the nitty gritty behaind food recommendations rather than just follow them blindly, and this post really helps. We consume very few nuts around here–mainly peanut butter as an occasional treat for the kids (which seems to be much lower on the list than some of the other nuts, so I guess that’s a good thing!). I personally avoid most nuts for the omega-6 content, anyway.

    • KimiHarris says

      I was surprised to see that peanuts were lower in phytic acid than almonds, as I thought that they were a lot higher!

  3. says

    I stopped using coconut flour when I listened to an Interview with Sally Fallon. She said that it needed to be soaked, just like all other flours. Its also a “new” food. If your trying to stick with traditional flours, don’t use coconut flour!

    Great tutorial, Kimi!

    • KimiHarris says

      Interesting! I do think that coconut flour would fall into the “new fangled” food category. :-) It doesn’t seem very traditional. As far as soaking coconut flour, since it’s not a traditional practice (that I know of), I wonder how effective it would be?

  4. Jennifer says

    Kimi, Thank you for taking so much time in your research. You did not mention Brown Rice, as on the chart it says 12,509 milligrams per 100 grams. It appears to be the highest on the chart. I was unaware that rice needed to be soaked liked other grains, seeds, and nuts. Could you possibly expand on that? Thanks so much!

  5. says

    Thank you for all your research on this Kimi. I think a good lesson to learn from this is to make sure we eat a varied diet so we are not relying on too much of one food that can lead to sensitivities.

    It’s also important that we stress healthy fats and other foods that promote a healthy gut so our bodies can handle harder to digest foods and we can indulge in occasional treats like chocolate without overwhelming our system.

    I have been hesitant to use coconut flour because it does seem processed- I still prefer almond flour for gluten-free treats. But coconut flour does require a high amount of eggs that you are probably not eating much of the flour compared to the rest of the ingredients in a recipe. But I would love to see more research on this.

    It’s interesting that many people (including my son) have had much success dealing with digestive issues following the SCD diet that uses almond flour for much of the baked goods and though brown rice and legumes have lower phytic acid amounts according to this chart, it is not allowed on the diet. So other factors besides the phytic acid content of a food must be taken into account as well.

    • KimiHarris says

      Definitely! For many avoiding starches like on the SCD and GAPS diet really helps with digestive issues. The GAPS book explains the science behind the diet well, I think. However, if you were dealing with mineral deficiencies and ate a lot of “GAPS Friendly” nuts, it may not be a good idea, even if your digestive system felt better without the starches. :-)

  6. Sarah says

    I was looking into chocolate processing recently, and according to several sources, the first step in processing chocolate pods is fermenting them in the husks, and piles of leaf matter. if this is true all chocolate would have undergone some fermentation.

      • Nyx says

        This may be too late, but I actually contacted Hershey because their website also talks about fermenting in the process. They explained that fermentation is part of the traditional process, and it does seem as though most producers still do this, but the problem is that not everyone does it anymore, and since they buy their cocoa on the open commodities market, they had no way to be sure how much of their cocoa had been fermented. I have been wondering whether it is possible that we have some way to detect the phytic acid taste-wise, but I haven’t gotten around to looking that up yet. Anyhow, I have been comforting myself that my Hershey’s cocoa has surely been at least partly fermented.:)

        • Susan says

          I looked into chocolates that were specifically mentioned to be fermented, as phytic acid was a concern. Tropical Traditions has an Extra Dark that tastes really smooth. It’s expensive compared to store bought, but at least I feel I can trust the sources of the ingredients. I try not to support any of the huge food comglomerates by buying their products – they have now gotten into organics, like Horizon, Odwalla, Naked Jiuce, Seeds of Change, Earth’s Best, Bear Naked, Kashi. I don’t buy their products – in fact, I try not to buy anything pre-packaged when I can. We speak and we vote with our pocketbooks.

  7. says

    Very interesting and even more so helpful. I’ve just received a dehydrator as a gift and am starting to experiment with it. I’m so excited about being able to now dehydrate nuts and such with it – so much easier than using your oven! At the same time I’m feeling overwhelmed by all the information out there on what and why certain things should be dehydrated. Thank you for doing all the research and providing a blog that is presents quality information.

  8. Debra says

    Hi. Thanks for sharing this. Any thoughts about something like roasted cashews that one might purchase in bulk at a health food store or food coop?

    • Beth says

      From what I understand, roasted nuts that you would get at the store have not been soaked or sprouted, which is the most important part of the process of reducing the phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors. (Is that right, Kimi?)

      My co-op in Minneapolis carries sprouted almonds in the bulk section, so obviously there’s enough of a demand for some places to stock these, but I imagine they’re a rare find. Wouldn’t it be great if we could create more demand so they’re more commonplace.

      • KimiHarris says

        While there is little information that I can found for exact recommendations, it does like sprouting would be the most helpful, though roasting (or pan toasting) nuts are also supposed to be helpful. I would rather roast my own though. :-) With cashews, I don’t think that they are “raw” anymore anyways, so I am not sure if there would be as much benefit from trying to soak/sprout them.

  9. says

    How does one get a copy of the Wise Traditions journal? Is it basically the articles on their website or is it a hardcopy booklet/newsletter that they offer? I quickly scanned their website and didn’t see a journal. Thank you for your help!

    • Myra says

      Kelly, when you join the Weston A. Price Foundation, you receive the journal. (It’s a journal for the members.) It’s worth joining for the information in the journals.

    • Beth says

      You get Wise Traditions as part of a Weston A Price Foundation membership. So while you support this wonderful educational foundation, you can know you’ll never miss an article. I save all of mine in a magazine holder – they are keepers! (You can also order back issues.) Regular memberships are $40/yr; students/seniors/unemployed $25; and overseas folks $50.

  10. jamie says

    We make crispy nuts according to Nourishing Traditions cookbook in the dehydrator. We then make almond flour from the crispy almonds and store in the freezer. It takes an extra step but makes a difference in our digestion of the almond flour baked goods which is importaint for us being gluten free.

  11. Elizabeth Stueck says

    Hi. I am loving this topic! I recently bought a dehydrator and am trying to start to sprout grains and dry them and grind them. I am having a hard time figuring out what to use on the trays so that the wheatberries/seeds don’t fall through the slots in trays. Cheesecloth does not work because the berries pull fibers up with it. What is everyone else using to line trays?

  12. Jen B says

    Reading through the chart I see that sesame seeds are very high in phytic acid,so I just concluded that hoummus(a traditional food)would be high in phytic acid also.Does anyone soak,dehydrate and grind sesame seeds?I make hoummus regularly and never thought about the phytic acid level of tahini,even though I am diligent to prepare all my other grains,seeds and nuts in order to reduce phytate levels.Just wondering how hoummus was made in times past?Are we making a new-fangled version of it as well?This is such a huge topic!

    • KimiHarris says

      Jen,

      It would definitely be better to buy dehulled sesame seed paste (which is traditional), and I believe that will reduce at least some of the phytic acid (as it’s generally found in the hull). I know that’s what Sally Fallon recommends in Nourishing Traditions. But it still is a bit high in phytic acid. I have not had great success trying to sprout sesame seeds myself.

      • Horse says

        I don’t know why you were having difficulty in sprouting sesame seeds. I’ve never had any difficulty whatsoever with both the brown and black varieties. You just soak the seeds overnight, then sprout as if they were mung beans or any bean. Rinse, etc. In short order a little sprout will appear.

    • Lori says

      OMG, isn’t it though! Very over-whelming, like re-inventing the wheel. Helps so much to see so many other people interested and willing to do so much extra for the end result. Makes me feel like much less of an extremist.

  13. Tricia says

    Wow…so many questions. I have been soaking and dehydrating my nuts (almonds, pecans, peanuts and macadamians) in water and salt according to Nourishing Traditions and we love the crispy buttery taste. I don’t see pecans or macadamia’s on the chart at all. I probably shouldn’t assume that that means the phytate level is low. Also, I read that adding salt slows down the process that removes phytic acid so I guess I’ll stop adding salt. What do you think about carob powder? We use that a lot instead of cocoa but I am really wanting to know what kind of cocoa powder everyone thinks is the best to use. I’ve heard that dutch cocoa is not the preferred. And about the oatmeal, milk and iron absorbtion; very interesting. We make oatmeal bu soaking it overnight in kefir then add water to cook. Kefir is a form of milk so does that mean (according to that study) that the kefir slows down the absorbtion of iron even though the oats are soaked? Thanks for taking this on. It is all very interesting to me and I’m sure all of us ma’ma’s who want to do the best we can for our families.

    • KimiHarris says

      I thought about discontinuing using salt too, though I know that some traditional societies did use salt in some soaking (such as with pumpkin seeds). I believe that all nuts are at least as high as grains in phytic acid.

      With the oatmeal, if you serve your oatmeal with milk products, it seems you won’t absorb very much iron. I think that there really isn’t that much iron in oatmeal anyways, so I would try to get iron in other meals (like pot roast for dinner, not served with a glass of milk). :-)

  14. says

    Thanks for putting time into researching this. I have a lot of the same questions. Nuts aren’t a big part of our diet, but I do notice a difference when I soak. They sit easier on the tummy, and they taste good.

  15. KimiHarris says

    I found a little update in the Summer 2010 Wise Traditions Journal that I’ve added to my post. I will add it here too, as I think it’s helpful.

    “We still do not have adequate information on nut preparation to say with any certainty how much phytic acid is reduced by various preparation techniques. Soaking in salt water and then dehydrating to make “crispy nuts” makes the nuts more digestible and less likely to cause intestinal discomfort, but we don’t know whether this process significantly reduces phytic acid, although it is likely to reduce at least a portion of the phytic acid.

    Roasting probably removes a significant portion of phytic acid. Roasting removes 32-68 percent of phytic acid in chick peas, and roasting grains removes about 40 percent of phytic acid. Germinated peanuts have 24 percent less phytic acid then ungerminated peanuts. Several indigenous groups cooked and or roasted their nuts or seeds. I notice that I like the taste and smell of roasted nuts.

    The real problem with nuts comes when they are consumed in large amounts such as almond flour as a replacement for grains in the GAPS diet. For example, an almond flour muffins contains almost seven hundred milligrams of phytic acid, so consumption should be limited to one per day. Eating peanut butter every day would also be problematic.”

    • Kelly says

      “The real problem with nuts comes when they are consumed in large amounts such as almond flour as a replacement for grains in the GAPS diet.”

      And yet hundreds of thousands of people find major benefit by doing GAPS.

      And speaking of nuts, how is Ramiel doing lately? Seriously, why is this guy taken so seriously? He’s saying “we don’t know”, yet everyone takes his word as gospel.

      As you said earlier, there ARE some BENEFITS to phytic acid.

  16. says

    Hi Kimi, I haven’t gotten into soaking nuts or anything yet, but we love nuts and nut butters in our home. Please don’t tell me they’re not good for us? Is it just certain people because I don’t notice tummy issues and I have organic roasted peanut butter everyday, or some roasted almonds or almond butter on occasion. Any thoughts for a newbie like me would be very appreciated! Thank you!

  17. Michelle says

    We also use a lot of nuts and seeds in out limited diet, so this info is a little disheartening. I soak and dry them all (except I do use commercial nut buetters), but it sounds like I should be de-emphasizing them. Anyway on coconut flour, Rami Nagel did a podcast on Cheeseslave about phytic acid a couple of months ago that was very informative. He said either in the interview or in the back & forth comments (which were many) that followed that coconut flour is high in phytic acid and should be soaked. (On its behalf, I don’t know if coconut flour would be considered newfangled b/c it can be made simply by running dessicated coconut in the food processor. That’s how I do mine. Much less expensive and no more newfangled than the coconut itself!!)

  18. says

    I love this post! I’m curious how coconut flour is made now, I’m guessing it’s finely ground after extracting the oil out of it, but that’s just a guess. I find that I use so little coconut flour- a 5-pound bag lasts me well over a month, where we use a lot of wheat flour (20-30 lbs) when we’re using that.

    Also, when I make my own almond flour I make it from soaked nuts. When I buy it, I buy blanched almond flour, which I’m assuming means that the skins are taken off.. I wonder if that helps.

    Thanks for sharing what you found.

  19. says

    I still note clear differences in myself AND my kids when we have unsprouted/unsoaked grains. Haven’t tried soaking the nuts yet but I am assuming they would be fine with them if I did it, because sprouted grains are fine, while unsprouted…don’t go there.

    I used coconut flour for awhile when we were off all grains but as you and others say, it doesn’t appear to be a traditional food and so sprouted “normal” grains are probably better, if one is to consume them. My daughter reacted worse to nuts and seeds (gee, wonder why?) so they were not a grain-free option for us. Coconut did make a great substitute for dairy though. In general I am happy to have my sprouted wheat and raw milk now….

  20. says

    Thanks again for this post. The comments are also very interesting.
    I have just started a new way of eating and the nutritionist has removed all wheats from my diet. Right now I’m consuming lots of nuts and coconut. My granola consists of soaked and dried fruits/nuts and then I add some coconut.

    I feel great eating this way, so this article actually is puzzling to me. Seems the more nuts I eat, the better I feel (although I admit it’s not helping me lose weight!). For some reason, eating too many proteins in my day does not make me feel good – I feel full very quickly and meat products quickly make me feel “yucky”. (very scientific term, I know). But nuts feel just great.

    After reading all these posts and articles I’ve been reminded of something. I come from a background of eating disorders since about age 6. At 40 I decided to quit “dieting” and enjoying my food – all in moderation. But all this science seems to remove so much of the pleasure of cooking and eating, that I fear it could lead to a whole new form of eating disorder – one based on science that may even be contradictory or incomplete.

    So in my head – I am reinforcing my motto – no panic, no rights and wrongs, eat for taste and satisfaction. In the process I will work to improve the quality of my food by making small, incremental, logical and reasonable changes. If almond or coconut flours taste good and make me feel good, I’ll continue eating them.

  21. Nina says

    I’m confused now!!!

    I thought roasting nuts and seeds damaged the oils held within causing free radicals and were therefore not a desired product to eat. I can see the issue with phytic acid and enzymes but which is the worse or the two groups – free radicals caused by overheated nuts or phytic acid and enzymes.

    Nothing would please me more that to think I could eat roasted nuts – they’re so yummy – but I think this is not so.

    Any thoughts???

    • Taylor says

      Yeah I’m confused here as well. I’ve read that nuts contain polyunsaturated fat which oxidizes when heated. Is there maybe a certain way that you can roast nuts without causing free radicals?

    • Molly says

      1 – Just fyi, not that anyone asked, heating oils does not cause trans fats to occur.
      2 – Heating oils that are still bound in the nuts/seeds also does not seem to cause a problem.
      3 – Heating the plant oil which has been removed from the nut or seed, such as sunflower oil, does cause problems, but not trans fats. It causes free radicals which can then begin the free radical cascade of inflammation in the body.
      This is according to Mary Enig, PhD. lipid biochemist.

      “I am not sure who started the rumor that frying or even just cooking or heating polyunsaturated oils would produce trans fatty acids in those oils; but it is just that, an untrue rumor.”

      “The idea that cooking with heat damages the oils that are highly polyunsaturated is true and the warning against cooking or frying using fragile oils such as flaxseed oil is valid, but not because trans fats are formed. What is formed under harsh circumstances such as high-temperature cooking and frying is a polymerized oil, and this is because the heat has helped to form free radicals and then various breakdown products. (Flaxseed oil that is still in the ground seed can be heated in baking and it does not become damaged.)”
      http://www.westonaprice.org/know-your-fats/trans-fatty-acids-are-not-formed-by-heating-vegetable-oils

  22. says

    Hi Kimi,
    Funny, but have been considering trying the GAPS diet. I noticed your mention of their using nut flours to substitute for grains, and yet they are high in phytic acid. All this becomes a bit confusing sometimes. I had just gotten a comment from someone who said they would never use raw cocoa powder because of the high phytic acid levels, which you aptly posted here. I or my family don’t seem to have a problem with using cocoa powder, except I’m sensitive to the caffeine in it. I don’t get any bloating or such from it, though it is just an occasional treat. I had written an article to make a delicious naturally sweetened version for examiner.com, and received the comment about the high phytic acid. This issue has come up lately regarding white grain versus whole grains, as well. Some say they do better with white long grains because the brown rice doesn’t sit right in their stomachs. Any thoughts on this? Love your site, by the way. Thanks for posting.

  23. Donna says

    This has been very interesting to me, because I eat a lot of nuts and recently thought I might be allergic to them since I make Granola and put three different kinds of nuts in it. I made a toast with gluten-free bread and used Almond Butter and Jelly. I started having really bad stomach pains, and had to stop eating the toast. So, I’m hoping it was the phytic acid, and perhaps I can still enjoy eating nuts. I have hypoglycemia, so when I eat GF cereal, I add nuts to it for the protein. Thanks for all the information!! I read all the posts, and learned a lot.

  24. jess says

    Thanks Kimi for a sterling effort here. Your article is well-researched, well-written and easy to follow. A generous contribution to a field of interest which is growing amongst those interested in attaining optimum health.

  25. robyn says

    This is all so overwhelming. It’s a tough transition from SAD (all so sick and we were eating much healthier than most thanks to my love of gardening!) to GAPS to WAP, oh my.
    I am still confused, I’ll need to go back to Fallon & she what she says in NT. So, I am guessing that a long ferment with whey followed by a slow & low roast (to not damage the oils) would be ideal?
    I did want to add that Nagel does discuss coconut flour in CTD, and says it is a by-product not a pure coconut product. I would quote him but had leant my copy to my naturopath & I would feel odd calling them to ask for the quote!

  26. Horse says

    Re phytic acid. This may not be scientific, but when I eat even a moderate amount of plain raw brown sesame seeds, I get leg cramps.

    When I soak and then roast them, no cramps or any other symptom.

  27. anonymous says

    Since many people seem to forget to the phytic acid in sesame seeds: The value that is shown is for sesame FLOUR! Sesame seeds(except in health stores u may find them with shell/rind) these days are sold peeled from theyre rind/shell anyway, and notice that the highest amount of oxal as well as phytic acid lies in the SHELLS/RINDS of foods, and sesame as well. So the ordinary sesam seeds you buy, are probably ought to have a much lower phytic acid content anyway. The value was shown for sesam FLOUR, since its flour i assume either the whole sesame seed with shell was used, or worse they actually use the shell only to crush it to flour(since the shell is ought to be fat free, whilst the the rest of the seed contains a lot fat which is of course unusable for making flour out of it.). Well of course one could de-fatt the sesam seeds and then crush them to flour, but i more doubt it since it would be more expensive, and you musnt forget that since the sesame seeds are normally peeled, you will of course have a lot of sesame shells left, garbage… hm why not use this “garbage” to make sesame flour out of it? definitely cheaper then de-fatting the seeds and then making them to flour.

    However unfortunately, I was no where able to find a listed value of how much phytic acid the PEELED SESAME SEEDS contain… all i could find was this value showing how much sesame flour has, and as you see, the value for sesame flour is definitely NOT equal to the value the seeds would contain.

    Also looking at other grains, it is often so that when you flour them, that the phytic acid contents rises(this is linked to the fact that often for flouring the whole grain is used, the shells and rinds are used to, and here sits the most phytic acid unfortunately) but not always(as i said, i think this depends on wether shells and rinds were crushed to flour or not).

    Looking at this facts, we can assume that the actuall level of phytic acid in peeled sesame seeds is much lower then the value for the sesame flour.

    However i agree to what you said totally, generally I would recommend the traditional way of cooking and making food, as this is by today even bio-chemicall prooven to be the best way for our health. Things like soaking, fermenting and long cooking have been replaced with: fast food, quick cooking, canning etc. which loads us not only a load of garbage in our bodys, but on top contain high amounts of phytic acid, oxalates, trypsin inhibitors(in soy, again natural soy products are okay and free of these things. Whole, dried beans soaked and cooked, tempeh, miso and natto are definitely 100% safe. Tofu still contains quite much phytic acid btw. and i wouldnt consider it safe! however tofu should be used in smaller amounts, and the tip is to always pour the water away and wash the tofu block to reduce its phytic acid content) etc. we also eat in large amounts.

    Sesame seeds still are very healthy and an unbeaten source of minerals and especially trace elements, specially the black sesame is a bit more mineralrich. However i will roast them only to from now. I must also agree that when i eat them raw, usually i get slight stomach pain and an upset stomach. When theyre roasted this doesnt appear to happen, at least is my experience when roasting them.

    Oh and last but not least: Remember that phytic acid also has some POSITIVE effects to. At least in animals it has shown to reduce bowel cancer. And in humans it has shown to lower the insulin level and help keeping the insulin level constant and healthy, therefore for diabetics and overwheight/obese people it is beneficial.

    I say: low to moderate amount of phytic acid doesnt hurt, and its also a natural part of our diet. As long as one keeps it moderate and has plenty of minerals in the food to cope it up, I dont see why it hurts to have a little phytic acid here and there in our diet.

    Oh and before i forget: In 1 thing i personally must say different:

    When roasting sesame seeds, you will NOT lower its phytic acid content! Phytic acid, scientifically thoroughly known by now, can only be minimized or destroyed through soaking, and partly its reduced through drying. However, heat does NOT destroy phytic acid!

    However, I still say its beneficial to roast the sesame seeds(not only because they seem to be better digestable anyway), but because they ALSO contain oxalates(oxal acids)! However unlike phytic acid, oxalates CAN be destroyed through heat. Oxalates have a similiar effect to phytic acid in binding minerals to undigestable complexes, on top today, we know that excessive consumption of oxalates provokes kidney stones(we also know this can be countered through citric acid, which is in most fruits, and especially citrus fruits and most in lemons and limes). However see wikipedia, oxalates are destroyed at 157C°

    So a quick and hot roast should theoretically destroy any oxalat acid in sesame, and its still beneficial to roast them. However, I dont know where this myth comes from that by roasting sesame seeds the phytic acid content gets reduced, cause scientifically it is definitely false, though as said yes, it does reduce or even destroy the oxal acid which is also in sesame.

    Oh and notice: When you roast sesame seeds you must use them up quick, best after 2-3 to maximum a week, since they tend to get rancid/bad quick, and quickly taste bitter and rancid, this is due the change in fats and the reduction of vitamin e which act as a natural rancid protection. Whilst unroasted they are storable for at least 6 months up to a year.

    • anoninonandon says

      If oxalates could be completely destroyed by heat then I would be able to tolerate and eat foods that contain oxalates that I deep fry or roast until almost burnt and I can not. Some research papers suggest that heat may destroy only a portion of oxalates and this portion as percentage is not the same in all foods.

    • David says

      If you search on google, you’ll find a study on the phytic acid content of soy beans and black sesame seeds. The latter was found to contain about 1,900 mg of phytic acid per 100 g.

  28. SANDEEP says

    Is there any book which discusses in detail about the process of soakin and dehydrating every nut,seedand grain?

  29. Kirsten says

    This may have been mentioned, but I’m wondering if the issues with almond flour is from using the meal that has the skins still on, instead of the blanched flour. NT suggests it’s the skins that cause the problems. I am in the middle of tracking down affordable blanched flour. $50 shipping on a 25# bag is a no-go for me.

    My goodness. We do indeed live in a “fallen world” and I just pray the new routine of fclo will heal the decay of a couple of my children’s teeth.

  30. Gloria says

    1.Another researcher suggests that you chop nuts before soaking as it increases the outer surface of the nuts.
    Just wanted to point out that chopping the nuts will not increase the outer surface. It will increase the surface to volume ratio making them soak better. I’m thinking I will try the granola mix as I am trying to be grain free since I am allergic to grasses.

  31. KH says

    I realize this is an old post, but am hopeful someone with some answers will respond. In his book, Mr. Nagel lists hot cocoa in a couple of menu suggestions of diet others found helpful in healing tooth decay. Maybe I read too much into the suggestions, but I got the sense he was advocating these suggestions. I’m confused…

  32. panagiotis says

    Hello,
    Do you know if it is safe to consume raw cocoa nibs?
    Do you think that they are already fermented?
    Do I need to soak them before consuming?
    Thank you for your time.

  33. Vagabond says

    Coconut, especially coconut oil, is a clear, nice food which helps reduce cavities and has a lot of other benefits. It turned out that the phytic acid in it is not problem at all… (I think we may consider that there are others nuts and seeds with the same effect..):

    The mineral-binding effect of the phytates in coconut is essentially nonexistent. It is as if coconut has no phytic acid at all. In a study published in 2002, researchers tested the mineral binding capacity of a variety of bakery products made with coconut f lour. Mineral availability was determined by simulating conditions that prevail in the small intestine and colon. The researchers concluded that “coconut flour has little or no effect on mineral availability.” (Trinidad, TP and others. The effect of coconut flour on mineral availability from coconut flour supplemented foods. Philippine Journal of Nutrition 2002;49:48-5) . In other words, coconut flour did not bind to the minerals. Therefore, soaking or other phytic acid-neutralizing processes are completely unnecessary.

    …. the tropics coconut has been consumed as a traditional food for thousands of years. Those people who use it as a food staple and regard it as “sacred food,” do not soak it or process it in any way to remove phytates. It is usually eaten raw. This is the traditional method of consumption. They apparently have not suffered any detrimental effects from it even though in some populations it served as their primary source of food. ”

    For all article see last part – MORE UPDATES on http://www.westonaprice.org/food-features/living-with-phytic-acid

  34. says

    Hi, I found this article really interesting. I have been doing some research on phytic acid myself and it seems like the more I learn the more questions I have about it. I am starting to come to the conclusion that perhaps a balanced diet is more the answer. That way you balance out the phytic acid you do consume with plenty of nutrients from other foods that do not contain phytic acid. Also I had wondered with the roasting of the nuts if they still contained any of there valuable nutrients afterwards?

  35. says

    We eat a lot of seeds to meet our mineral requirements,
    and since it was typically raw really does lead to digestion issues,
    so now going to be soaking, sprouting, fermenting and cooking,
    or as many of those steps as we can do.

    Started doing the seed fermenting by adding them to sourdough,
    that has lactic acid bacteria along with yeasts in it.

  36. Cha Sea says

    It was a nice surprise to read how you will be acting based upon your research. I came here because i’ve been asking similar questions and it is heart warming to see how other people think! It’s a tricky business this living-stuff. Then you have to eat!

  37. mike says

    interesting article. i would love to see a chart that shows the phytase levels in these food items. if the phytic acid is high but the phytase is high also we shouldnt have a problem. Is my thinking correct on this?

  38. Joy Roxborough says

    yeah, like you, I have found the info very conflicting and sketchy and it has been somewhat frustrating finding consistency and even complete info. I guess some of it boild down to what works for each person, taking the basics into account as well. Take care and have a great day!

  39. Asra Baig says

    What dessert to make if can’t use nuts, grains or coconut then? I’ve been searching on the internet and can’t find any recipe! Without healthy desserts, I have a tendency to binge on the unhealthy ones!

  40. DAG says

    I see this is back in 2012. You say you know how to properly prepare them but don’t leave a net address. Can you provide one? Thanks!

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