Should I worry about anti-nutri­ents?

Matamata Chronicle - - Out & About -

Q: I re­cently heard some­one talk­ing about anti-nutri­ents. What are they and where are they found? Thanks, Su­san.

Foods don’t just con­tain nutri­ents; some foods also con­tain what are often re­ferred to as antin­u­tri­ents when eaten in ex­ces­sive amounts. Any­thing con­sumed in ex­cess can be harm­ful. Some com­mon anti-nutri­ents are phytic acid, ox­alates and lectins. Al­co­hol and caf­feine also have antin­u­tri­ent prop­er­ties. Let’s look at phytic acid, lectins and ox­alates.


Email your ques­tions for Dr Libby to askdr­libby@fair­fax­me­ Please note, only a se­lec­tion of ques­tions can be an­swered.

avail­able. Com­po­nents of the phytic acid mol­e­cule also bind with other min­er­als – such as cal­cium, mag­ne­sium, iron and zinc – so we are un­able to ab­sorb them. Soak­ing whole­grains, beans, nuts and seeds overnight is one of the most ef­fec­tive ways to re­duce their phytic acid con­tent. has an­ti­bod­ies to some di­etary lectins, so our re­sponses to lect­in­con­tain­ing food can vary. Eat­ing a va­ri­ety of foods re­duces the im­pact and some peo­ple ben­e­fit from fer­mented foods, such as sauer­kraut and kom­bucha. Cook­ing, sprout­ing or soak­ing your grains, legumes, nuts and seeds helps de­crease lectins. with other min­er­als such as cal­cium, which un­der cer­tain con­di­tions form a salt known as an ox­alate. Ox­alic acid in­ter­feres with the ab­sorp­tion of cal­cium and iron, mak­ing it un­us­able by the body. Some in­di­vid­u­als are more prone to prob­lems with ox­alates than oth­ers.

While some plant foods con­tain these anti-nutri­ents, the ben­e­fits of the vi­ta­mins, min­er­als, an­tiox­i­dants, and ben­e­fi­cial phy­to­chem­i­cals that they also con­tain far out­weigh any po­ten­tial neg­a­tives. It’s the dose that is im­por­tant – if we con­sumed huge quan­ti­ties of one par­tic­u­lar food, anti-nutri­ents may be of con­cern, but so would nu­tri­ent de­fi­cien­cies.

When we eat a wide range of nu­tri­tious foods, there’s no need to worry about anti-nutri­ents.

Dr Libby is a nutri­tional bio­chemist, best-sell­ing au­thor and speaker. The ad­vice con­tained in this col­umn is not in­tended to be a sub­sti­tute for di­rect, per­son­alised ad­vice from a health pro­fes­sional. See dr­


Soak­ing beans overnight is an ef­fec­tive way to re­duce their phytic acid.

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