What Are Antinutrients and How to Eliminate Them


Have you ever heard about antinutrients? We are used to hearing about the different benefits of food nutrients. However, antinutrients are commonly unknown to many people.

These components found naturally in some foods are called this way because they reduce the eatable nutritional values. When this occurs, they can stop the nutrients absorption such as vitamins and minerals.

Antinutrients are components principally found in seeds and legumes, although they can appear in some leaves and fruits as well. It’s important that before consuming these foods, we eliminate the antinutrients to stay away from adverse effects in our health.

For this reason, here you’ll find what antinutrients are and how to eliminate them. Keep on reading!


What are antinutrients? Which are the foods that contain them?

Like it was said before, antinutrients are components found naturally in some foods which can reduce their nutritional value. Consequently, antinutrients decrease the nutritional value because they stop the absorption of some nutrients such as proteins, minerals, or vitamins. Also, they can stop enzymes functions which are in charge of aid the assimilation of some eatables.

These kinds of components are principally found in seeds, cereals, legumes, and nuts. Moreover, they can also be found in some leaves and fruits such as spinach, cocoa, or tea leaves.

It may look antinutrients don’t have any utility. However, they are found naturally in these foods for a reason: these components are in charge of protecting these eatables from depredators that consume them and if they are consumed without getting rid of them, antinutrients can produce adverse effects on the digestive system like stomachache, indigestion, and gases or flatulencies.


What are the types of antinutrients?

There are different types of antinutrients according to the food they are and the nutrient they’re affecting. For this reason, here you’ll find the principal antinutrients you can find in some foods:

  • Phytates: is a component found in bread and cereals such as oatmeal and integral rice. As a result, this component can stop minerals absorption like zinc and iron. However, it has been proved that when soaking these cereals, phytate transforms in inositol which is an antioxidant component that improves properties in these foods. Is
  • Oxalates: a substance found in different veggies and seeds such as spinach, nuts, but wheat, cocoa, rhubarb, and others. Consequently, these oxalates prevent some minerals correct assimilation, iron and calcium especially.
  • Avidin: is a protein found in raw egg white. This antinutrient prevents our body to assimilate some vitamins, especially vitamin B8. This is the reason why the egg is food that always must be eaten cooked.
  • Tannins: this antinutrient is principally found in tea leaves and coffee. As a result, they can stop minerals assimilation such as iron, magnesium, and calcium. Moreover, tannins can also reduce some vitamins absorption, especially thiamin and vitamin B12.
  • Lectins: Set up in all food plants, particularly in seeds, grains, and legumes. Some lectins may be damaging in high amounts, and get in the way with the absorption of nutrients.
  • Protease inhibitors: Extensively spread among plants, particularly in seeds, legumes, and grains. They get in the way with protein digestion by inhibiting digestive enzymes.
  • Saponins: this component is present in the external peel of some legumes such as chick-peas, soya, and quinoa. Saponins are the antinutrient that gives the bitter taste to these foods. what is more, if they aren’t eliminated correctly, they can provoke a stomach irritation and reduce minerals absorption such as iron.


How to eliminate antinutrients by soaking and cooking

In foods like legumes and cereals, antinutrients can be eliminated by soaking and cooking of these foods. In addition, the soaking not only helps to hydrate these veggies but to activate seeds reducing phytates and saponins content in these foods.

On the other side, cooking can improve the soaking power. Besides, the heat gets to inhibit antinutrients effects because the antinutrients change these substances structure. To use this method you must follow these steps:

  • Firstly, you must wash cereals and legumes to get rid of the dirtiness. In addition, this way you’ll reduce the saponins they can have as well.
  • Once washed, you’ll have to let them soak in a bowl with abundant warmth water. Although there’s no a specific time, it’s recommendable to let them soak all the time possible. Also, you can add some lemon juice to the water to enhance phytates deletion.
  • Finally, you’ll boil the seeds or cereals for the period of time shown in the product package. What’s more, you can add some salt to the water you’ll use to boil the vegetal to make the food more digestible

Sprouting to delete antinutrients

Sprouting is a stage in the life cycle of plants when they begin emerging from the seed. This natural course is also known as germination.

Sprouting is a method to delete this kind of components, especially phytates. This method consists of the soaking time to be the long enough to get rid of the antinutrients. As a result, the seeds get to germinate reducing this way the antinutrients and increasing minerals and vitamins release.

To use this germination method to delete antinutrients from foods you must follow these steps:

  • Wash the seeds to get rid of the dirtiness rests
  • Soak them from two to twelve hours in cold water.
  • When done, rinse the seeds and then drain the water.
  • Put the seeds on a bowl to germinate and leave them in a place where they get sunlight.
  •  You’ll have to rinse and drain three or four times every eight hours until the seeds germinate.

For the duration of sprouting, variations take place within the seed that guides to the deletion of antinutrients such as protease inhibitors and phytate.

Moreover, sprouting has been shown to decrease phytate by 37-81% in a variety of types of grains and legumes.

Also, there seems to be a small reduction in lectins and protease inhibitors during sprouting.


Bottom Line

Antinutrients can considerably decrease the nutritional value of lots of plant foods.

Fortunately, they can be tainted with a few simple processes such as boiling, heating, sprouting, soaking, and fermenting.

By combining different methods, many antinutrients can be tainted almost totally.


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