“Should you soak grains for nutrition?” someone at our charter school asked me. “Yes, absolutely.”
Grains contain phytic acid which inhibit your absorption of iron, zinc, calcium, and magnesium. If you rely on grains (and legumes and nuts) for these minerals, it is absolutely to your benefit to soak them before eating them. Here is a list of the phytic acid content in some grains and other foods for comparison. The list comes from a 1987 review article by Harland and Oberleas.
Phytic acid in various grain foods
Oatmeal: 943 mg/100 grams
Barley infant cereal: 897 mg/100 grams
Mixed grain cereal: 510 mg/100 grams
Wheat bran: 3,011 mg/100 grams
Wheat bran muffin: 498 mg/100 grams
Wheaties: 1,467 mg/100 grams
Phytic acid in other foods
Chocolate chip cookie: 148 mg/100 grams
Avocado: 1 mg/100 grams
Collard greens: 12 mg/100 grams
Broccoli: 18 mg/100 grams
The phytic acid paper goes into detail on the effect of soaking grains, adding yeast to bread, sourdough fermentation, and other rise cycles. All are more or less effective, with some exceptions (like oats, corn, and soy). The key is to find what works best in your kitchen and given your busy schedule. It would be a shame to go crazy trying to manage kitchen preparation techniques to be healthy, all along not able to enjoy the food over all of the stress in your kitchen.
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