Phytic acid / phytates in whole wheat

Whole wheat is high in phytic acid, a fact that has made devotees of Sally Fallon (author of Nourishing Traditions) diligently soak their grains or choose options like oatmeal. Fallon recommends soaking grains, legumes, and nuts to reduce the phytic acid in the food and increase your absorption of key dietary minerals.

Fallon lit the phytate spark but did not examine variation in grains, specifically the grains' native ability to break down phytic acid. It turns out that wheat does a pretty good job. On the other hand, oatmeal may be more problematic in the phytic acid department.

Notice the reduction of phytic acid in wheat in the graph below, compared to other grains. Wheat is a great performer. It is likely that any ground wheat recipe that requires the grain to sit for a bit in a warm place (as is the case with many breads) may end up with no phytic acid whatsoever.

These variations and a whole lot of other phytic acid tidbits are available in the Phytic Acid White Paper available for purchase here.

Soaked-grains

More posts like this one:

  1. Corn & phytates: To soak or not to soak?
  2. Oatmeal And Phytic Acid
  3. Soaking Grains For Better Mineral Absorption — Resources
7 Responses to Phytic acid / phytates in whole wheat
  1. lisa
    April 8, 2010 | 11:25 am

    so it looks like after a 2 hour soak the phytic acid is reduced to 0? But is it true that salt (which is present in bread dough) inhibits phytic acid break down? That the soaking medium needs to be acidic/cultured? Or is this all proprietary information contained in your paper? :)

  2. Amanda Rose
    April 9, 2010 | 9:03 am

    Lisa,
    I would have to look at the paper for differences between regular baked bread and sourdough. Sourdough is always going to be better and the rise time is going to be sufficient in the case of fresh-ground wheat. I wouldn’t worry about salt if you are using fresh ground wheat
    Otherwise, yes, this is top secret information. ;)
    Amanda

  3. Paul
    May 30, 2010 | 6:44 am

    Does anyone know how to produce/extract phytase?
    Alsom is there any data on the levels of phytase in premade whole wheat pasta?
    The reason I ask is that I would like to eat pre-made whole wheat pasta, but the way most of it is made, it still contains phytic acid.
    I don’t know if the drying process, immediately after extrusion, destroys phytase, but it probably does.
    Cooking surely will destroy the phytase, but I don’t know how much phytic acid will be broken down during cooking. I assume not much more than baking bread. Which is not very much.
    I’d like to develop a technique to prepare premade whole wheat pasta that reduces it’s phytic acid content.
    My current thinking is to soak the dried pasta in water, possibly with phytase added (hence the initial question), for a short period of time (minutes-hours). I’m encouraged by the graph as it looks like wheat can rapidly breakdown phytic acid.
    The pasta may need to be pulled from the soaking water before all the phytic acid is broken down, but this is only to prevent the pasta from going totally mushy. The pasta should remain wet enough for the breakdown to complete.
    Thoughts?

  4. Amanda @ Phytic acid research
    May 30, 2010 | 6:50 am

    Hey Paul. Good question. What I don’t know if how commercial pasta is made. It might not actually be a problem. I’ll look it up next time I’m at a research library.
    Do you like to eat whole wheat pasta? I think it’s terrible, phytic acid or no, LOL.
    There is phytase available but as home cooks we wouldn’t really know how much to add. I haven’t seen any research on that question. Personally, I think the soaking and fermenting strategies are probably sufficient but you may be right, that some foods like whole wheat pasta could be improved with it
    Amanda

  5. Paul
    June 3, 2010 | 11:01 am

    Amanda,
    Normally I would agree with you about WW pasta, but we can get a brand here that is very nice. It’s made with whole grains and like most commercial pasta it is made using a process where it is wet for a very short period of time. Flour and water are injected into the forming die where it is formed. As it is leaving the forming die, it is dried. I think the drying process may destroy the phytase. I’m trying to find out this information.
    I suspect that phytase could be made a variety of ways. Take rye berries and grind them into flour, soak the flour in water for 12 hours the flour should settle to the bottom, the water should have some phytase. Or do the same with malted (sprouted) barely. Malting’s primary purpose is to increase enzyme content. Or maybe just make Rejuvilac with sprouted rye or wheat.
    I wouldn’t feel confident about these methods without a lab test to confirm I’m putting phytase into the water.
    Then use this hopefully phytase rich water to soak the pasta. Again though, I’d like to test to see if the phytic acid levels are actually reduced in the pasta. And of course avoiding mushy pasta is a challenge.
    Cheers,
    Paul

  6. Paul
    June 4, 2010 | 8:07 am

    Amanda,

    Thanks for the new URL.

    I think a better solution is to make your own pasta, but honestly I feel like I have to make everything because there is truly so little proper food out there!

    My staple is short grain brown rice. I do a 24 hour ferment to remove phytic acid. I do very well on rice, plus it’s low gluten.

  7. Paul
    June 17, 2010 | 6:14 pm

    If rye and wheat are high in phytase, why is phytic acid a problem? Is phytase destroyed in our stomach? As I understand it, the main purpose of the stomach is to dissolve solid food which is passed to the small intestine where enzymes further digest it.

    Some animals do make phytase and I assume it is introduced into the small intestine.

    Thoughts?

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