Another reason you shouldn’t go nuts on nuts

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In a previous article1, I suggested that nut consumption should be limited or moderated because of the high levels of omega-6 fat many of them contain. But there’s another reason you shouldn’t make nuts a staple of your diet.

One of the main principles of the Paleo diet is to avoid eating grains and legumes because of the food toxins they contain. One of those toxins, phytic acid (a.k.a. phytate), is emphasized as one of the greatest offenders.

But what is often not mentioned in books or websites about the Paleo diet is that nuts are often as high or even higher in phytic acid than grains. In fact, nuts decrease iron absorption even more than wheat bread2. This is ironic because a lot of people on the Paleo diet – who go to great lengths to avoid food toxins – are chowing down nut like they’re going out of style.

What is phytic acid and why should we care?

Phytic acid is the storage form of phosphorus found in many plants, especially in the bran or hull of grains and in nuts and seeds. Although herbivores like cows and sheep can digest phytic acid, humans can’t. This is bad news because phytic acid binds to minerals (especially iron and zinc) in food and prevents us from absorbing them. 3 Studies suggest that we absorb approximately 20 percent more zinc and 60 percent more magnesium from our food when phytic acid is absent4. It’s important to note that phytic acid does not leach minerals that are already stored in the body; it only inhibits the absorption of minerals from food in which phytic acid is present.

Phytic acid interferes with enzymes we need to digest our food, including pepsin, which is needed for the breakdown of proteins in the stomach, and amylase, which is required for the breakdown of starch. Phytic acid also inhibits the enzyme trypsin, which is needed for protein digestion in the small intestine.

As most people following a Paleo diet will probably have heard by now, diets high in phytate cause mineral deficiencies. For example, rickets and osteoporosis are common in societies where cereal grains are a staple part of the diet.5

How much phytic acid should you eat?

Before you go out and try to remove every last scrap of phytic acid from your diet, keep in mind that it’s likely humans can tolerate a small to moderate amount of phytic acid – in the range of 100 mg to 400 mg per day. According to Ramiel Nagel in his article “Living With Phytic Acid”6, the average phytate intake in the U.S. and the U.K. ranges between 631 and 746 mg per day; the average in Finland is 370 mg; in Italy it is 219 mg; and in Sweden a mere 180 mg per day.

If you’re on a Paleo diet you’re already avoiding some of the higher sources of phytic acid: grains and legumes like soy. But if you’re eating a lot of nuts and seeds – which a lot of Paleo folks do – you still might be exceeding the safe amount of phytic acid.

As you can see from the table below, 100 grams of almonds contains between 1,200 – 1,400 mg of phytic acid. 100g is about 3 ounces. That’s equal to a large handful. A handful of hazelnuts, which is further down on the list, would still exceed the recommended daily intake – and that’s assuming you’re not eating any other foods with phytic acid, which is not likely. Even the Paleo-beloved coconut has almost 400 mg of phytic acid per 100 gram serving.

[Disappointing side note for chocolate lovers: Raw unfermented cocoa beans and normal cocoa powder are extremely high in phytic acid. Processed chocolate may also contain significant levels.]

FIGURE 2: PHYTIC ACID LEVELS1
In milligrams per 100 grams of dry weight

Brazil nuts 1719
Cocoa powder 1684-1796
Oat flakes 1174
Almond 1138 – 1400
Walnut 982
Peanut roasted 952
Brown rice 840-990
Peanut ungerminated 821
Lentils 779
Peanut germinated 610
Hazelnuts 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

Can you prepare nuts to make them safer to eat?

Unfortunately we don’t have much information on how to reduce phytic acid in nuts. However, we know that most traditional cultures often go to great lengths prior to consuming them.
According to Nagel7:

It is instructive to look at Native American preparation techniques for the hickory nut, which they used for oils. To extract the oil they parched the nuts until they cracked to pieces and then pounded them until they were as fine as coffee grounds. They were then put into boiling water and boiled for an hour or longer, until they cooked down to a kind of soup from which the oil was strained out through a cloth. The rest was thrown away. The oil could be used at once or poured into a vessel where it would keep a long time.50

By contrast, the Indians of California consumed acorn meal after a long period of soaking and rinsing, then pounding and cooking. Nuts and seeds in Central America were prepared by salt water soaking and dehydration in the sun, after which they were ground and cooked.

Modern evidence also suggests that at least some of the phytate can be broken down by soaking and roasting. The majority of this data indicates that soaking nuts for eighteen hours, dehydrating at very low temperatures (either in a food dehydrator or a low temperature oven), and then roasting or cooking the nuts would likely eliminate a large portion of the phytic acid.

Elanne and I have been preparing nuts like this for a few years, and I personally notice a huge difference in how I digest them. I used to have a heavy sensation in my stomach after eating nuts, but I don’t get that at all when I eat them after they’ve been prepared this way.

Another important thing to be aware of is that phytic acid levels are much higher in foods grown using modern high-phosphate fertilizers than those grown in natural compost.

So how many nuts should you eat?

The answer to that question depends on several factors:

  • Your overall health and mineral status
  • Your weight and metabolic health
  • Whether you are soaking, dehydrating and roasting them nuts before consuming them

One of the biggest problems I see is with people following the GAPS or Specific Carbohydrate Diets, which are gut-healing protocols for people with serious digestive issues. Most GAPS and SCD recipe books emphasize using nut flour to make pancakes and baked goods. This is presumably because many people who adopt these diets find it hard to live without grains, legumes and any starch. While nut flours don’t tend to contain much phytic acid (because nut flour is made from blanched nuts, and the phytic acid is found mostly in the skin of the nuts), they can be difficult to digest in large amounts — especially for those with digestive issues. I’ve found that limiting nut flour consumption is necessary for most of my patients that are on GAPS or SCD. It’s also best to be moderate with consumption of most commercial nut butters, which are made with unsoaked nuts. However, some health food stores do carry brands of “raw, sprouted” nut butters that would presumably be safer to eat.

All of that said, in the context of a diet that is low in phytic acid overall, and high in micronutrients like iron and calcium, a handful of nuts that have been properly prepared each day should not be a problem for most people.

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Comments Join the Conversation

  1. DancinPete says

    Hi Chris,
    Does eating phytic acid leach existing minerals from your system, or just prevent the absorption of minerals being digested at the same time?
    ie: if you eat your nuts at separate times from other foods, will those other foods be absorbed better?

    thanks,

    • Michelle says

      I have heard other bloggers say that Nagel states that they phytic acid in a food only blocks you from absorbing the mineral in that same food, not other food that you are eating. I haven’t read his book directly, though

    • Rod says

      I have read that the phytate molecule/ion is too big to be absorbed, therefore it goes on thru the digestive tract and out. Therefore it would not leach existing minerals … except minerals that diffuse from the bloodstream into the digestive tract.

      Separate times — good idea. Yes.

    • SBT says

      Hi DancinPete,

      In this article, Chris Kresser stated that:

      “It’s important to note that phytic acid does not leach minerals that are already stored in the body; it only inhibits the absorption of minerals from food in which phytic acid is present.”

      So to answer your question, no, phytic acid does not leach existing minerals from the body, it only prevents absorption of minerals it binds to.

      Also, Chris Kresser stated in this article that phytic acid also interferes with digestive enzymes responsible for breaking down starch, fat, and protein.

  2. Jim says

    It would be very easy for me to eat 1 cup almond butter and 2 cups of nuts a day without thinking twice. What do you recommend as an alternative for snacking?

        • KJ says

          That recipe looks good. I actually just made jerky for the first time a couple days ago and I am only sad I haven’t tried to make it sooner!

          I found I didn’t need a liquid marinade at all. I toss the thinly sliced beef (eye of round) in salt, ground pepper and garlic powder (unfortunately, I didn’t measure carefully, but it was a 2-3 tsps of each, maybe a bit more). I let it sit in the fridge overnight and the next day I put the strips directly on the racks in my oven and cooked them on low, checking for doneness every once in awhile. My oven only goes down to 200 degrees, but I cracked the door with a towel. It took a couple hours, and I removed some of the thiner slices that got done faster.

          Not to toot my own horn, but it is the best jerky I’ve every had! I will probably scale back the salt next time and use more pepper. But I think that skipping the marinade sped up the dehydrating process, which was a-okay for me.

      • Mark says

        Chris, I know you’ve mentioned how you sometimes get patients with iron overload. Would the combination of eating lots of red meat AND consuming low amounts of phytic acid play any part here? Is it possible that certain people’s genes have better adapted to phytic acid and, therefore, when it’s significantly reduced, their body stores inappropriate amounts of iron?

        • captainhurt says

          Men do NOT need iron. Any rationally engineered supplement does NOT supply iron.
          younger 1/2 of women bleed out all the time and need a little iron.

          • Slick says

            Men certainly DO need iron. The main purpose of iron is to help in the transportation and storage of oxygen to all parts of the body. In addition, iron assists in energy production and cell respiration, while also helping the immune and central nervous systems. Men need around 8-10mg although as there is a risk of overdose, it is suggested we get it from food not from suppliments.

      • Robin H says

        Delicious as these foods are, if all I have to snack on is smoked fish, cheese, olives, etc., I’ll just wait until mealtime to eat. I think the reason is that these foods do not have the addictive quality of typical snack foods (including nuts). Galina L. makes a good point below, which is that we probably don’t really need to snack at all. For me at least, I’ve come to accept that just about any snacking is out of tune with my body’s actual nutritional needs. Also, considering that many of us on these forums are probably at least a touch orthorexic (I know I am), setting up our eating patterns to where we’re focusing on food as little as possible can be a very helpful way of avoiding the stress that sabotages all our other efforts.

        • Richard says

          Snacking is important for me, as a hypoglycemic, as it is for about 30% of pre-diabetic people in this country with hypoglycemia.
          Of course, we have to snack the right kind of food for the necessary period (1 year?) until we restore our health. After that, I agree with you 0 snacks are not really a paleo thing.

          • Roger L. Cauvin says

            @Richard, given that you’re pre-diabetic with hypoglycemia, have you considered a ketogenic diet? After a few days of adaptation, it may get you out of the cycle of dependency on sugar, as it by definition switches your body’s primary fuel source to ketones. A side benefit is that it may heal your metabolic issues.

      • Jiri says

        Beef jerky – contain MSG very often
        Smoked fish – too much Histamine
        Cheese/kefir/youghurt – too much Histamine, casein, lactose

        Difficult to eat anything if you want the perfect food!

        • I_Fortuna says

          @Jiri Hi, yogurt, kefir and aged cheeses have very little if any lactose (sugar).
          I make my own kefir and yogurt at home and culture it until it is lactose (sugar) free as we are diabetic. Many aged cheeses are also lactose free. Kefir, which is easier to make, has 3 times the probiotics of most yogurt and restores the activity of the gut to a healthy state.
          We have reduced our need for medication by watching our diet which includes dairy, fruit, veggies, chicken, fish, meat, fermented foods and nuts.
          We have a balanced diet and have all the various foods we like. Moderation is key as well as variety. We take a magnesium supplement as the deficiency has been linked to diabetes.

    • Galina L. says

      I understand people believe they need to snack, but they are not. Ween yourself from that carbeaters pattern of eating. Snacking is not paleo, IF and infrequent eating is.

      • Brenda says

        This makes a lot of sense when you consider the hunter/gatherer lifestyle. People had to work very hard (compared to us) to acquire & prepare meals. This is how we were designed to eat. Its difficult to adjust to when you’ve been eating in a carbeaters pattern. The diseases that are so prominent in our culture often dictate that we eat small frequent meals. But it makes you wonder, which came first: the physical conditions that require the small frequent meals or the small frequent meals (snacking) that dictate the physical conditions?
        Now there’s “food” for thought……

        • Linda says

          I was thinking before men became hunters, Adam & Eve had it made picked fruit, ate w/out a struggle before sinning then God said it would be hard etc. But they were in “perfect” bodies then too.

  3. Suzan says

    After years of digestion issues due to undiagnosed gluten intolerance and subsequent experimenting with nuts and nut products, I eat nuts and nut butter very sparingly, as they are very tough on my digestive system. I try to eat enough during my meals so I feel full and don’t have to snack in between. I rarely use nut flours, as baked products just encourage cravings for more baked products (for me.) Adding small portions of white/sweet potatoes to some of my meals has helped me avoid snacking on nuts. It’s a tradeoff that has worked well for me, as once I start eating macadamias or almonds, it’s hard to stop. Maybe phytic acid is addicting, too, like gluten/casein/sugar.

    • says

      I tend to think the food-reward we get from nuts is more of the addictive factor than possibly the phytates, though I don’t know if that’s true or not. The crunchy, fatty, carby combination in nuts is delightful to the palate- add salt to that, and well, good luck resisting! ;) Right?!

      • says

        Having been deep enough in ketosis that I had to remind myself to eat, I don’t quite buy the “food reward” hypothesis for, well, pretty much anything. Not hungry is not hungry, and it doesn’t matter how good it tastes–if your body has what it needs, it ain’t gonna want no mo’.

        With even some folks following Paleo not getting enough of what Weston Price spoke of as the protective animal foods–mostly muscle meat, too much olive and coconut oil and not enough tallow or lard, and WAY heavy on the veggies and fruits–it’s not surprising to me they still get cravings. We’ve still got a ways to go in straightening all this out. I am not saying people need to be zero carb, though that will hardly kill them if they do try it. I AM saying that with even “healthy” eaters’ diets being the way they currently are, they’re still going to suffer from shortages. Eating more critter and less green critter would give us more nutritional wiggle room. Even Price said the diets he analyzed had many times the amounts of vitamins and minerals as was present in the American diet of his time–and they got more vitamins and minerals back then, at least in the middle classes and upward, than we do now without supplementing.

      • Jamie says

        Diane, I’m so pleased to see your presence and knowledge at yet another destination of my Internet searches! I have come to trust and appreciate the knowledge you offer. I did your 21 day sugar detox, I am a nursing mother and was so pleased with the principals an foundation p the program. Thanks for all you do!

  4. Vanessa says

    Dear Chris,

    Thanks for the interesting (and also disappointing!) blog post. Any tips for overcoming a chocolate addiction?? It is my go-to source of stress relief and over the past few years I am eating a large quantity of dark chocolate everyday (70% or higher). I can easily finish half a Trader Joe’s dark chocolate bar a day. I knew it was probably an unhealthy amount, but I can’t seem to give it up!!!

    Vanessa

    • says

      One other reason you may reach for chocolate is that it’s high in magnesium which can be a potent calming mineral in which most people are deficient. Seek out foods high in magnesium to eat more of in your regular daily diet. Green leafy vegetables and some seafood are a good sources. Perhaps a magnesium malate or glycinate supplement would prove helpful for you as well.

        • greg says

          wheat should be weat,as it’s treated like a four-letter word here;however,freshly stoneground organic wheat-flour bread,properly prepared for human nutrition using sourdough ferment,has been a ‘safe starch’ for millenia..

        • Jim says

          I hope this doesn’t trigger the “oh damn” response in you, but corn is quite toxic. Most commercial corn is now genetically engineered by Monsanto. It is Roundup ready, in other words it can withstand considerable spraying of the herbicide poison Roundup. The active ingredient is glysophate. It is ten times more deadly than DDT, and they banned that several years ago. It causes sterility in mammals and humans, pre-mature births, and deformations. It destroys liver cells and good bacteria in the gut, which results in food allergies and other digestive disorders. Look this up on Dr. Mercola’s sites.
          Boy was I bummed out when I heard about this. There went my Mexican restaurant meals and those tasty corn chip appetizers.
          So I’ve quit eating all corn and wheat as it is subjected to the same spraying.

    • says

      If magnesium alone doesn’t do the trick, maybe some dopamine support would help. Tyrosine and DLPA are used to make dopamine (Apex Dopatone is a nice formula). Also, L- Theanine works wonders for fast stress relief!

  5. says

    OH! Bummer. Seriously, much as I love them I guess it makes sense in terms of evolution, I’m fairly sure our paleolithic ancestors did NOT have access to bushels of nuts. As long as I have chicken liver mousse made up I’m so much less interested in nuts.

  6. Jane says

    Same question as Jim’s above. I eat tons of nuts and nut butters. I’m running out of things to eat! (I have impaired glucose tolerance so can’t eat a lot of the filling starches like squash and sweet potato that a paleo diet allows). Nuts are my mainstay.

    • Chris Kresser says

      If you soak and dehydrate the nuts, you should be able to eat a handful per day without issues. Glucose tolerance can often be improved or even reversed – you may want to investigate that.

        • says

          None of this is a medical or dietetic recommendation because I am neither an MD or a dietician. But it’s from what I’ve been reading here, there, and yonder, including at this blog.

          1. Get your micronutrient intake squared away. Just about everybody in industrial culture is missing *something.* Frequently it’s some of the minerals and most or all of the fat-soluble vitamins except perhaps E. From my reading I’m learning that vitamin A may be important in glucose tolerance, vitamin D most likely is, and vitamin K2 in the form menatetrenone sets off a chain reaction which directly leads to greater insulin sensitivity, which of course is going to help with glucose tolerance. Several minerals are implicated as well, like magnesium and chromium and possibly even sulfur, which experts are now saying is only short in vegans but I suspect that may not be true.

          I’d try to get these squared through diet, but if you don’t have the patience to work all this out or don’t have the time or your funds are limited, there *are* good supplements. Chris can probably point you to a few. Meanwhile, animal is a really good source of most of these nutrients. Run some meats (including liver, especially) and some fats through the USDA nutritional database (easy to find on Google) and you will see what I mean. Bone broth tends to cover the bone-building minerals. Lots of blogs have instructions for making it.

          2. Personal habits. Exercise does not have an absolute 1:1 relationship with weight loss the way conventional wisdom says it does, but it does seem to help insulin sensitivity. Getting enough sun helps with the D and possibly helps your body use sulfur well. And get enough sleep, and get it in a dark enough room. Shorting your sleep or sleeping under lights messes up your neurotransmitters and cuts off melatonin production, which in turn messes up your hormone balance. Insulin is a hormone. Sooner or later it will be affected if it’s not already.

          3. Atkins, believe it or not. There’s been a lot of not-so-good-natured joking about that diet in the Paleosphere. But you can do it with Paleo foods. Just because Atkins allows a neolithic food in some stage or another doesn’t mean you have to eat that food. Specifically what I am thinking of here is the Atkins-style reintroduction of carbohydrates–just stop short of the neolithic stuff. It would make it easier for you to figure out where your tolerance threshold is, and also to measure whether the other steps you have taken are working to improve it.

          But most of all: Don’t get hung up on glucose. People act like it is some sort of a miracle compound, and it is for your few tissues that can’t burn fatty acids or ketones, but that doesn’t describe 95+ percent of your body. Glucose is only “preferred” in the body because it acts as a toxin that the body just happens to be able to burn as a fuel. Alcohol is even more preferred than glucose, for the same reason. (It just happens to kill you faster.) But at the end of the day, fatty acids are preferred by most of the body and that is why you have adipose tissue. It’s your body’s elegant little way of holding some energy to use between meals. In a healthy body, fatty acids are always coming and going to and from the adipose tissue, kind of like money moving in and out of a bank account. Just so happens that in obese people more gets put in than taken out, and in type 2 diabetic people, hardly any gets taken out at all.

          Your body’s capable of making the glucose that those few tissues in your body need. Aside from that, it’s useful to maintain some glucose tolerance for those times you just want to eat what everyone else is eating, or maybe in case you go really broke and can’t afford anything but potatoes, but aside from that, it doesn’t really matter.

          And keep tweaking. You’ll have the best success if you approach this like an engineer, paying attention to what you do and how your body responds. Even then it’s not easy because you can’t help confounding variables. But if you can get a handle on things it’s totally worth it.

      • says

        I just don’t understand why one would need to worry about the phytic acid in nuts provided one doesn’t eat them with other foods. Eat them alone, & don’t assume you’re assimilating the minerals they contain – end of story, right? Why count the daily milligrams? Please explain.

        • J Granger says

          Precisely, unless people are eating nuts specifically for mineral content then why does this article even exist?

          Please enlighten me I must be missing something…

  7. says

    Great post, Chris. I love all the medical/science-y stuff but sometimes it’s great to have you get back to it regarding FOOD :) Perhaps your phytic acid levels list above along with corresponding n3/6 fats levels warrants another infographic frome me… I’ll put that on my to-do list.

    I also have a post on some of the n3:n6 issues with nuts as well asking people to cool it with the almonds when they go “Paleo.”

    For the Love of Almonds (and some omega 3/6 fats talk)
    http://balancedbites.com/2010/12/for-the-love-of-almonds-and-some-omega-36-fats-talk.html

  8. Jane says

    Also, how important is it to eat organic nuts in terms of the phytic acid issue? Almonds have gotten *so* expensive. Where do almonds fall in the “relatively more/less safe” rankings?

    • Chris Kresser says

      Unfortunately, phytic acid levels are much higher in foods grown using modern high-phosphate fertilizers than those grown in natural compost. I forgot to put this in the post – I’ll add it now.

      • Rod says

        If the phytic acid binds to the zinc, does not the zinc also bind to the phytic aid — and tie it up, take it out of commission, so it isn’t available or able to interfere with absorption of all the other minerals, trypsin, etc.?

        So, can’t we cancel out our phytic acid intake by taking plenty of zinc with our meals?

        • Peter says

          Yes, you can “negate” blocking power of phytic acid by taking larger amount of supplements.
          But, you need to know, how much phytic acid blocks how much of zink (or other mineral respectively). To the zink, maybe 30mg would be still not enough, if you eat large amount of phytic acid. It would need to be tested, for precise amounts, otherwise, your dose could be little or large. So right now, you don’t know, how much of which mineral to suplement. There are also negative issues with large amounts of some minerals.
          To the magnesium, there is not any risk, but in the iron, zink and calcium, there is.

          Also, phytic acid does also other negative stuff in diggestion, not only mineral blockage, so it’s wiser to remove it by soaking… and in todays modern age full of low-quality plants, I would supplement some of the minerals anyway, for prevention.
          For sure at least magnesium, which is in great deficit in plants.

  9. says

    So is there any other reason to avoid beans and legumes besides the phytic acid? If not, it not it seems that some well-soaked and cooked beans might be a better option?

  10. says

    Btw I do agree with you on the the nut consumption of people on SCD and GAPS. I’ve been on both diets. I’m mostly just paleo now. I have a few SCD books and the recipes for baked goods are all nut based.

      • jack stevens says

        Yea, I completely understand. My point was that maybe, since we have higher overall calorie intakes in the U.S. (30% higher obesity than in Sweden,etc) that’s the reason we have more phytate in our diets; Not that we have a higher phytate intake and that’s causing (however significantly) obesity, disease,etc.

        • says

          Getting fat drives caloric intake, not the other way around. Any time you are growing you will need to eat more, and fat tissue is a body part just like muscles are.

          I wouldn’t be surprised if phytates contribute to fat gain. If they’re binding up minerals in your intake, you need those minerals to maintain metabolic health. We do see more obesity in cultures where more grains and nuts are eaten. We also see more bone loss, shorter stature, etc. Even among the groups Price studied, the bread-eating Swiss had the most cavities of any of the traditional groups. I’m surprised the Gaelic group didn’t rank up there as well; perhaps they had a higher mineral intake.

      • Jeff says

        Seems like one slice of whole wheat bread would have about 180mg – what could they possibly be eating to maintain levels that low?

        • cary nosler says

          It could be the way they prepare their grains. Many Europeans use sourdough products and the Scandinavians love their crispbread.

  11. Eric says

    Thanks for addressing this issue Chris. I’ve had many discussions with paleo and GAPS followers and many (not to say most) of them did not want to acknowledge this fact that PA levels were so high in their beloved nuts (not to mention omega-6s), often a food they use in large volumes to substitute for other comfort foods. Especially, as you note, in the form of “flours”…

    Seems like the WAPF is the only large-ish group to have tackled this issue, with their recommendation of soaking and drying/roasting all nuts before consumption.

    I’ve been adhering to this method for quite a few years now and, slowly, trickled down my consumption of nuts to macadamia nuts and the occasional cashews. Seems to work well…

  12. says

    Thanks for posting Chris. I remember being astounded in school when I learned about phytates. I thought, how could nuts be bad for you? I’ve too learned to properly prepare them and use them in moderation.

  13. Bob Holling says

    Hi Chris -

    Thanks for this post. One thing that might be helpful is an idea of what 100 grams of a nut means. A little online sleuthing tells me that a cup of shelled almonds works out to be about 125 grams, for what it’s worth.

    Keep up the good work!

  14. says

    Great article Chris, I’m glad you wrote this, people really do seem to go way over board with nuts, when they are seriously overrated. High doses of omega 6 and high levels of phytic acid and not exactly nice condiment for your average meal anyway. I think a good way to stop someone eating to many nuts, is simply to get them to shell the nuts themselves, the effort soon out ways the benefit.

  15. Phoenix says

    Great post, Chris. I have this strong feeling that most people coming off years of SAD/vegetarian have a zinc deficiency (magnesium, too). It seems that copper may be less bound up by phytic acid than zinc (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3373335), which can lead to a messed up copper:zinc ratio when eating lots of grains and nuts combined with minimal high zinc foods (ie. meat). This can continue on a paleo diet if someone is eating their beef with almond flour muffins or taking a zinc supplement right after eating half a dark chocolate bar.

    Any info on phytic acid in potatoes and sweet potatoes?

    • says

      Great comment Phoenix. I have pyroluria which leeches B6 and zinc from my body and resulting copper overload (confirmed with tests). This great post by Chris and your comment have convinced me to start prepping nuts properly and reducing consumption. Might start using more buckwheat flour to replace almond and coconut.

  16. sara says

    Thank you for the info! I have been wondering about this exact topic – I was happy to see your post today!!! It is so easy to substitute with nuts when first going primal/paleo! I have not tried baking with almond or coconut flour, but I have noticed that most paleo baking recipes use these… Sorry, to say, but it seems baking in general may be off limits (for the most part) for these types of diets. Especially, if you are working with any auto-immune issues or vitamin deficiencies.

  17. says

    I don’t eat nuts because they make me feel terrible and I get uncontrollably addicted to them. A lot of people in the Paleo community are addicted to nuts and they often say that this a result of the body craving certain nutrients that they are lacking. I don’t personally believe this is true. Do you have any insight into nut addiction? I wonder if it might result from the body’s desire for carbohydrates when doing a low carb diet.

    • Jez says

      I get crazy nut addiction too! I now stay far away from nuts : ) But I don’t think it’s caused by a desire for carbs. I don’t eat a low carb diet; I eat a decent amount of fruit, starchy veggies, and soaked/fermented rice, yet I still get crazy cravings for nuts if I eat even a few. Seriously, chocolate has nothing on nuts, for me at least! I take 800mg of magnesium per day and that has helped in other ways, but not with the nut cravings…

    • mister worms says

      I find them to be addictive as well. For me, I think it’s the combination of delicious fat and salt. Unsalted nuts will hang around in the pantry while the salted varieties will disappear waaay too quickly. Plus, unless they’re raw/dry roasted, they’re processed with junky oils. Bye bye nuts :(

    • Galina L. says

      I just can’t have nuts at home without regular trips to the container, so nuts are out. I don’t care why they are addictive, they are . The possible reason – high level of phytates prevent appropriate absorption of nutrients and body’s reaction – eat more food. Another possibility – nuts provide natural fat+carb combination that gets us in a trouble in a fast food case. The only kind of nut I can resist is macadamia and it is the lowest in carbs.
      Looks like the only baking option – buckwheat sourdough. I already used the pancake as a pizza crust for my son.

    • says

      If I eat enough fat I don’t crave carbs. I know what carb craving feels like and I don’t get that. I might choose to eat them anyway but it’s generally because I’m being bratty. It’s when my carb intake creeps up that I start in on the cravings again.

      People who try to eat a high-protein diet with neither carb nor fat to back it are asking for trouble, and even Paleo isn’t supposed to be low-fat, no matter what Cordain says.

  18. Polly says

    Good grief! What next? I checked the Wikipedia entry for phytic acid hoping for better news. What about the links to reduced cancers – the idea that phytic acid can retard cancerous growths by removing the minerals they need to thrive? And it sounds as if the phytic acid in legumes is directly linked to reduced colon cancer. The takeaway, for me, was that people in developing countries with poor access to basic nutrients may need to be concerned about this. But can’t we compensate by making sure to get enough magnesium, iron, etc from other sources – supplements or whatever?

    • says

      People who eat more seeds get more cancer. This has been known since European and American doctors spent a lot of time among indigenous peoples. The folks who are saying phytates cure cancer are the ones trying to develop them as a drug.

  19. Jess says

    Hi Chris,

    How do you recommend that GAPS dieters get enough glucose/carbs? I’ve been following Paul J’s recommendation of 400 daily calories from safe starches due to past fungal problems (now under control), but I want to try GAPS for gut health reasons. I’ve been eating the PHD for over a year, still with some constipation. I know white rice isn’t technically GAPS “legal,” but would it likely be okay because it is not a fermentable fiber? Thanks!

    • says

      Gluconeogenesis? There is no dietary requirement for glucose in human beings. You’d wake up dead if there were, unless you sleep only two hours at a time.

      Less flippantly, experiment on yourself and see what you can tolerate. Humanity has longer species experience with tubers than with seeds, so if I were advising someone who really wants to keep eating carbs, I’d tell ‘em eat leaves, eat low-sugar fruits and have a sweet potato every now and again.

  20. Holly says

    Thanks for the post. Grateful as always for the information. I replaced the grains in my diet–and my 5-grain granola–with buckwheat, nuts and seeds. Time to start soaking and dehydrating the nuts before baking…. How much phytic acid do pecans contain? Is there phytic acid in seeds, too? (Pumpkin seeds, sunflower, sesame)

    • says

      All seeds contain phytate. Plants need phosphorous in order to grow properly, and phytate is basically phosphorous in chemically-locked-up form. It’s meant as food for the seed embryo, not as food for us. The methods for breaking it up are methods that trick the seed into thinking it’s in ideal germination conditions.

      You’ll only avoid phytate if you don’t eat seeds. It’s a tradeoff. I’m glad people are wising up now to methods they can use to break up the phytate, since I don’t think most humans will abandon eating seeds anytime soon. But we aren’t adapted to them. I think only birds and some (all?) rodents are.

  21. Jez says

    Thanks for the post! I’ve also experienced problems with nuts. When I was on an allergy-free diet (ie. Paleo but with rice and no nuts) I felt great. My symptoms disappeared within a few months. Then I moved to a Paleo diet and began eating nuts and ditched the rice. I noticed a gradual deterioration. I now avoid nuts since they give me stomach pain and are pretty much the only food I actually get cravings for when I eat it. I’ve once again embraced eating brown rice after soaking it in a fermented soaking medium (maybe 2-3 servings a week, so not much). Now I feel great again!

  22. KJ says

    Not my chocolate!!! I just bought a bag of raw cacao and thought I had stumbled upon the perfect dessert when I mixed with some coconut oil and coconut flakes and made a “fudge”. Back to fruit for dessert I guess….

      • says

        100g of cocoa powder would conceivably make a lot of actual chocolate since, by weight, chocolate is more cocoa butter than cocoa powder. I will have to experiment with this in making some chocolate and see how much powder:fat gets used. You know, for science’s sake ;)

        • KJ says

          I suppose you’re right. I didn’t actually think about how much cocoa powder and coconut flakes I use.

          My recipe right now is:
          3 T (~15g) unsweetened shredded coconut = 53mg phytic acid? (by my quick and dirty math)
          2 T coconut oil, melted
          1 T (~5g?) cacao powder = 90mg

          This conceivably makes 4 little truffles (though realistically, it’s more like 2 servings). So, 70mg phytic acid per serving? Is my napkin math right? If so… whew! Not too bad.

        • KJ says

          By the way, Diane, I am enjoying your new podcast! I live in SF, too. Just moved here, actually — right around the same time I started really looking into paleo.

          • says

            KJ- Cool, thanks so much. :) If you haven’t already reviewed it in iTunes- please do so! I’m teaching a seminar next weekend in Manteca (90 mins outside of SF) if you know anyone interested in learning more about Paleo, send ‘em over!

      • says

        So the overall nut preparation is along the lines of:

        Soak in (slightly salted ?) water for 18 hours
        Dehydrate for several (I do about 6) hours at about 150-170F (65-75C)
        Finally roast them – but what temperature and duration here Chris?

        I know that the dehydrating step essentially allows you to store them (wet nuts will go mouldy in a couple of days) but I’m just unsure of the final roasting step in terms of how to do it and also just what it achieves over and above the dehydrating.

        For anyone thinking this looks complicated – I’ve been soaking and dehydrating for a while and it’s really not hard at all. Just buy some nuts and soak them immediately you get them home. Then store them in a jar once dried so you can use them whenever.

        • Jane says

          I think dehydrate and roast are the same process. I leave them in the oven at 170 degrees (my electric oven doesn’t go lower) for 12-15 hours, until they are nice and crunchy. You can’t go any higher in temperature without losing the nutritional value as I understand it.

          • says

            Thanks Jane but apparently not – Chris said:

            “dehydrating at very low temperatures (either in a food dehydrator or a low temperature oven), and then roasting or cooking the nuts”.

            Chris? :)

            • Jack Kronk says

              Nice aricle Chris, although I also wonder about the possible benefit connected to partially reducing iron absorbtion in those who have elevated levels of iron saturation in the blood and low binding (me).

              In case anyone is interested… here is a post I put up on PaleoHacks back in February on how I soak/dehydrate the nuts. Since then, we actually bought a deluxe Excaliber dehydrator and it works like a gem. I’ve given up the almonds/pecans completely since my July lipid numbers scared me, but we have just harvested several pounds of macadamia nuts from our tree and dehydrated them (didn’t soak em). So delicious!

              Anyway.. soaking/rinsing/dehydrating almonds and pecans is a good idea if you insist on eating them (which I totally understand). In fac, they are actually sweeter (I think because of the partial ‘fermentation’) and more crispy/fluffy.

              Here’s the link…
              http://paleohacks.com/questions/12925/is-almond-butter-ok-on-the-paleo-diet/23225#23225

    • Rodney says

      Kymberly,

      I soak walnuts and almonds in a salty water for 12-16 hours. They don’t taste nearly as salty as store bought nuts do. I strain them but don’t rinse them off, just to keep some salt on them. My oven only goes down to 170 degrees, so I prop the door open just barely. This keeps the temp closer to 140-150 and lets the moisture out. I forget the exact number, but at higher temps you start destroying valuable nutrients.

      For me walnuts usually take 12-14 hours, and almonds take 16-18 hours to bake. One other thing I have found is to take just a few out nearing the end time and let them cool before deciding if they are crunchy enough for your liking. They are less crunchy when they are warm, but after 5 minutes or so are cool enough to test. Then make sure to let them cool before sealing in any container so the moisture evaporates. Almonds tend to pop a little as they cool.

      Now, about that dark chocolate…???

  23. cary nosler says

    Studies that I have read show that cultures consuming phytate containing foods go through an intestinal adaptation process. The body appears to be able to reclaim some level of mineral absorption after adjusting to the continual consumption.

  24. Cathryn says

    Chris,
    Does a little acid (vinegar or lemon juice) aid in breaking down the phytic acid? Haven’t seen you mention that and I’m just going by the instructions in Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon. As far as coconut flour, it seems it could still be baked with after soaking and adding another low fiber starch (tapioca or arrowroot) to absorb excess moisture before adding other ingredients. Any thoughts on that?

  25. says

    Hi Chris. Thanks for the info. Very useful, as usual.

    Can you point us to a source for those numbers in the chart? (It looks like you have a little “1″ note there without a link.) Thanks very much!

  26. Teresa Liddell says

    Many thanks for another clear and well-researched article. I read a few days ago – in passing, I don’t recall where – that phytic acid might be useful in preventing Alzheimers disease. Is this correct and is there any research which indicates, if correct, how much is needed? Many apologies if I’m confusing the issue.

  27. deb b says

    Phytate clarification questions:
    Does phosphorus content (e.g.listed for all foods in nutrition data database) correspond to phytic acid content? Phytic acid content is not listed.
    Coconuts (according to the wikipedia reference) do not seem to contain very much phytic acid.
    The reference also states that the phytic acid is found in the hulls of the nuts. Do you think this means if you purchase blanched almonds (and peel the brown away from the fresh coconuts after shelling them), you are removing most of the phytic acid?
    Chris’ article states unfermented cocoa nibs are the problem, yet my understanding of processing chocolate is that of ALL cocoa nibs ARE fermented- before any additional processing occurs. Does this mean there still is that much phytate in undutched, unsweetened cocoa powder?
    Thanks for the information! It is very concerning, as the recent “buzz” about why sodas are aging is due to the phosphorus content.

    • ANDREW CHIN says

      Hello Deb B,
      Phosphorus is not necessarily linked with phytic acid. Meat has a lot of phosphorus, but no phytic acid. Phytic acid is only found in seeds (grains, legumes, oily nuts and seeds). Phytic acid is merely the storage form of phosphorus, but you can have free phosphorus as well, as in meat.
      Coconuts do contain a moderate amount of phytic acid, but mostly in the form of a salt. Phytic acid salt, aka phytate (as in sodium phytate), does not have the chelating power of free phytic acid. This info is from a great article on phytic acid by Ramiel Nagel, and it’s found on the WAPF site.
      The shell of the almond would be roughly analogous to the hull of a grain. The skin would have the tannins, which some consider to be toxic. However, tannins are part of the polyphenol family, which is actually an antioxidant. When you take isolated tannin, as in the form of liquid tannic acid for tanning hides, that would probably be toxic.
      Most cacao nibs, whether roasted or raw, do go through some fermentation. There might still be a few raw chocolate companies that still use unfermented cacao beans/nibs. Personally, I think a full fermentation is a good idea because the microbes then complete their life cycle and die off. There’s quite a bit of “dirty” raw chocolate on the market.
      The undutched, unsweetened cocoa powder on the market has been fermented and roasted, unless it’s actually advertised as being raw cacao powder that’s coming from a company that use unfermented cacao bean/nibs.
      I don’t believe the phytic acid in chocolate is that big of a deal. I’ve weighed it out before, and it actually takes 21 tablespoons of cocoa powder to make 100 grams. So it’s not really fair to compare it to 100 grams of Brazil nuts.
      Hope this helps!
      Blessings,
      Andrew

  28. says

    Being a lay-person (and not a very bright one) I read the link you provided (just the abstract – I’m not sure I could have absorbed anything more detailed) concerning phytic acid prohibiting mineral absorption, but I came away puzzled. (Not surprising.)

    First, the study seemed more focused on fiber as opposed to phytic acid. Second, the different experimental conditions made conclusions problematic. Third, and I’ll quote directly from the abstract here: “Finally, it must be borne in mind that fiber and phytic acid occur together in fiber-rich diets and, thus, it is difficult to separate the effects of fiber and phytate in the utilization of most essential polyvalent metallic ions.” It goes on to say that increasing fiber intake (and obviously phytic acid) would not be expected to have a detrimental effect on mineral absorption if we also increased protein, and ascorbic, citric, and oxalic acids.

    1. How do we know it isn’t the fiber causing the issues with mineral absorption instead of the phytic acid?
    2. If we’re getting sufficient protein and the above-mentioned healthy acids, should it even be an area of concern?

    I promise I’m not trying to be a smart ass! But if there’s one thing I’ve learned in the two years since I developed an auto-immune disease it’s to question, question, question! So what am I missing? I’ve never noticed any issues with nuts myself. I’ll go weeks without eating any, and then other times when I’ll have a handful of pecans daily. But for those of us who follow a Paleo diet, taking away foods that would have been easily available to primitive man seems to defeat the purpose of “eat what you can hunt or gather”.

    • Chris Kresser says

      There are many, many studies showing phytic acid inhibits mineral absorption. I chose one. It’s not a controversial subject at all. In fact, phytic acid is used by some practitioners therapeutically to chelate minerals from the body when they are in excess (as in iron overload, for example).

    • jazznut50 says

      The answer is: They don’t know. How is it that apricot seeds (which contain cyanide) can kill cancer cells, but not harm the rest of the body. Again, no one knows, but one thing you can be sure of, if it was nature created, there is some good reason and good benefit from consuming it.

      I don’t care what so called “experts” say, they, nor anyone else can know exactly how all the ingredients contained in nature’s products work inside the body, and I don’t care how many “studies” they do. It is impossible to discover.

      And BTW, all almonds are now required to be pasteurized, so what benefit would there be to drinking highly processed almond milk (with carageenan–creates sores all over my body) with almonds that have no nutritional value.

      I finally found a site online that has truly raw almonds, but they are not USDA certified (I don’t care if they are not) and I will now be buying my truly raw almonds from them. If you have a problem with raw almonds, DON’T EAT THEM. Try something else. Good God, common sense people!

  29. Ed says

    Great informative post.

    2 things.

    First — is the brown rice figure a typo? 12509 ?

    Second – 100 grams of cocoa powder is a heck of a lot of cocoa and a bit misleading because its being compared to regular foods.

  30. Katie Carbaugh says

    I believe there may have been a decimal point error.
    According to the book you linked: “Food Phytates” (N. Rukma Reddy, Shridhar K. Sathe), brown rice would have 840-990 mg (p.30) and for parboiled brown rice 1600 mg (p.32).

    Why does parboiled brown rice contain more, especially when calculations are based on percentage by weight?

    Regardless, it appears that fermentation of brown rice reduces phytic acid levels to almost nothing.

  31. says

    What about macadamia nuts? They are the lowest by far in omega 6: 1.3grams per 100 g of nuts and cashews, 7.8g per 100g, compared to almonds 12g omega 6 per 100 grams of nuts. (http://paleozonenutrition.wordpress.com/2011/05/10/omega-6-and-3-in-nuts-oils-meat-and-fish-tools-to-get-it-right/)

    Do they have much phytic acid?

    I heard Mat Lalonde say the best nuts were those with hard shells like macadamia because the shell is their defence against digestion, rather than anti-nutrients.

    • Phoenix says

      Not sure if this has anything to do with it, but macadamia nuts and cashews seem to be different than other nuts in terms of lack of that outer brown, papery, fibrous layer (the bran maybe?). Maybe that is where majority of the phytic acid is in the other nuts?

    • says

      I’ve read before and it made sense to me that a good amount of the phytic acid is in the skin of the nut or seed. So, blanched almonds are a lot better than not blanched almonds. My tummy is not a fan of raw almonds with the skin but can handle blanched almonds a lot better!

  32. Melissa Jewell says

    I too would love to hear the answer about macadamia nuts!? I read in an earlier post of yours that they are the ‘best’ nuts to eat due to the omega 6 to omega 3 ratio. If I do snack on nuts on the odd occasion, they are the ones I eat. Thanks for the great information as always Chris!

    • Chris Kresser says

      I haven’t been able to find info on phytic acid content of macadamias, but if you’re only snacking on nuts on the odd occasion, as you said, you could choose any nut and it wouldn’t matter. We’re capable of dealing with some phytic acid.

  33. Jeanmarie says

    Chris, what’s the best type of chocolat/cocoa powder? Dutch process or not? Does the Dutch processing, whatever that is, remove some of the phytic acid? Any brand recommendations? I have to make chocolate ice cream (low in sugar) from time to time for peace at home and mental health. Thanks!

      • Stephanie says

        Hi Chris. Thank you for the very informative post. I have been looking for the answers to the exact same questions asked above. Does the Dutch process reduce phytic acid? I have been searching online for hours and I still cannot find any solid information on the topic. I have problems absorbing iron (I am Vegetarian) and although I only have cocoa powder occasionally I would still like to know if Dutch cocoa powder would be a safer option as I am trying to reduce my phytic acid intake as much as possible (even with foods that are a ‘treat’). Thank you :-)

  34. Elle D says

    I’d like to second dada’s question above. If I understand correctly from the comments, coconut oil is fine as levels are low enough. The list up top includes “coconut” and “entire coconut meat” separately, which is somewhat confusing. I’m wondering if coconut milk should be avoided or consumed in limited quantities (and/or how this relates to cultures who consumed/consume a ton of coconut).

    Many thanks for the informative article! I’ve been wondering about nut consumption and many new paleo/primal eater’s almond butter habits (including my own).

    • Chris Kresser says

      Folks, as I said in the article it’s not necessary to eliminate phytic acid completely. We can tolerate a few hundred milligrams of it without a problem. My understanding is that the bulk of the phytic acid is in the bran or hull of the grain, seed or nut, so I doubt coconut milk or oil has significant amounts.

      • Jay says

        So if the bulk is in the bran or hull, would nuts with the outer cover removed (blanched?) be better?
        Similar question about the coconut – if I removed the thin edible brown outer cover, is the white part safer to eat?

  35. Colleen says

    I’d still like to see detailed information regarding chocolate and coconut products, especially cocoa powder, dark chocolate bars, coconut milk and coconut meat, thanks.

  36. George says

    “6700 BC, Colonsay (UK) A midden pit containing hundreds of thousands of charred hazelnut shells, all harvested in the same year, on a raised beach at Staosnaig.”

    After the ‘paleolithic’ period, though!

  37. STG says

    Chris,

    A very interesting post! As a consumer of nuts, I am concerned about phytic acid. I was unaware of how much is in my favorite nut, almonds. Thank you for the information. Preparing nuts properly (soaking/roasting) as you and WPF suggest can damper the effects of phytic acid. Is it possible, however, that roasting nuts could be adding another problem by heat damaging the fragile, polyunsaturated fats in the nuts?

  38. Terri says

    Cocoa powder is widely touted for its polyphenol content . Are we now to be concerned that the risk of phytic acid outweighs the polyphenol benefits?

    I understand about moderation – in the same way that I limit my consumption of fruit (fructose!)

    Doesn’t all of this just go back to common sense..i.e. – all things (or most all things) are ok, in moderation?

    I gotta say it. I do lots of reading about nutrition. There is apparently only one food item, and one only that appears to escape debate – leafy greens, in moderation of course ;)

  39. lara says

    My 6 year old son has reflux (doesn’t bother him but he often regurgitates his food) and does consume lots of nuts and I’ve made muffins pancakes and such with coconut flour. A line you wrote about the phytic acid interfering with protein digestion struck me as a possible ah ha. Thoughts? We have done food sensitivity tests, digestive enzymes and are going to try a stool sample. He is gluten and dairy free. Thanks for all the work you do.

    • Chris Kresser says

      Nut and particularly coconut flour are very high in insoluble fiber, which is indigestible and can cause gut problems in certain people. That – more than the phytic acid – would be my guess in your son’s case. Try a diet low in insoluble fiber and see if that helps.

    • Steve says

      Iara,

      I was a chronic reflux sufferer as a child which I lived with well into my adult life. I had an endoscopy and was advised that major surgery was the only option. Suffice to say, I declined. Ultimately, I visited a Naturopath friend of mine who fixed it within 24 hours. Yes 24 hours! and this was after years of constant suffering. I was previously taking drugs for reducing acid production and drugs reducing acid time in body (until I read reports of the said drugs causing death).

      Obviously I only have my personal experience and the limited information in your comments but for me it was a simple as eating ‘good food’. Completely eliminate Fast Foods, sugary treats, and processed or chemically altered food. For me, I found banana (my favorite fruit), bread (any type), and fast food in general would cause reflux (alcohol is also bad but probably not an issue at the moment for your son!). Since ‘living healthy’, I suffer ZERO reflux and only ever feel anything if I have indulged in the forbidden food.

      I am now Paleo and find it to be, without a doubt’ the best option. Don’t get bogged down in the detail – for every good food you think you have found you will find something wrong with it. Hence the amount of responses to CK’s article. Although he has stated several times that nuts are ok in moderation, this site is still bombarded with ‘nuts no more’ comments.

      My simple view is this – Eat any food that is natural, avoid processed foods or any foods that are altered (i.e if you want to drink milk, drink it full fat). A basic diet of meat, fruit and vegetables will be able to keep even a six year satisfied (a bowl of fruit salad with some full fat cream or even quality icecream – c’mon!!). And as long as everything you eat is IN MODERATION, you should not expect to have any issues

      I hope this helps as I would not wish reflux on anyone – certainly not a six year old.

  40. Terri says

    Thank you for the link discussing polyphenols, an interesting read.

    Are any nuts commercially available that have been prepared so as to reduce the phytic acid level? This preparation would probably push them into the definition of a “processed” food, but perhaps in a good way?

  41. Michael says

    Hi Chris,

    Do you happen to know if there are anti-nutrients like phytic acid in seeds like those from fennel, cumin?

    Cheers

    Michael

  42. Nina says

    Chris Have you read Dr Steven Gundry’s take on phytates and why they can be helpful to adults (not pregnant or severely ill)? He contends that a little of what is bad can be good.

    Drs M & M Eades argue that older adults can benefit from a lower iron load. Perhaps phytates can help with this rather than going down the blood transfusion route that they recommend.

    Other ‘healthy’ elements of the diet also bind to minerals, particularly iron, such as oxalic acid found in spinach and chard.

    Nina

    • Chris Kresser says

      Yes, there is some evidence that phytates can be beneficial in certain circumstances. I recently read an animal study where they showed that phytates reduced the symptoms of Alzheimer’s. That’s why I don’t think it’s necessary or even helpful to avoid all phytic acid – just to minimize it.

    • Chris Kresser says

      Commercia almond milk often has quite a bit of sugar and carageenan. Carageenan has been linked with intestinal cancer and causes gut distress for susceptible people. Homemade almond milk is probably relatively low in phytates, but I haven’t seen numbers.

  43. says

    Hi Chris, Can you provide any information on phytase levels in nuts/coconut/cocoa, if any? I understand that phytase breaks down phytates into bioavailable phosphorus. Also, most cocoa is fermented in the ground (not sure about raw). Even Cadbury’s chocolate is harvested and processed this way: http://www.cadbury.com.au/About-Chocolate/Harvesting-and-Processing-Cocoa-Beans.aspx.

    Thanks for the article. I frequent your site, and your info has changed my life!

    Marissa
    gutreal.blogspot.com

    • says

      You can’t get antioxidants from something that won’t deprive you of minerals? People in Kenya who eat seed foods are not exactly the picture of perfect health. If all they ate were the seed foods they’d be even worse off. I really think these “high carb” traditional cultures only get away with the high carb because they eat other foods that protect them. We are losing that protection in industrial countries thanks to heavy emphasis on avoiding animal foods.

      • says

        “We are losing that protection in industrial countries thanks to heavy emphasis on avoiding animal foods.”

        My crack dealer called and was wondering who’s your supplier?

  44. says

    Thanks for this, Chris. I really wish the USDA would quit spending our money telling us what to eat, and put it instead into telling us what we ARE eating. Their nutrition database is in need of serious improvement, and it wouldn’t hurt my feelings any if they added phytate numbers to their food listings as well.

  45. says

    I am currently on the GAPS diet and I prepare nuts by soaking in whey (from homemade yogurt) for 12-24 hours, draining and then dehydrating in a cool oven. I not only find that they are MUCH tastier this way, but far easier to digest. If I want to use nut flour in an occasional treat, I will grind my own, properly prepared nuts rather than buy store-bought nut flour.

  46. Sheridan Jackson says

    in this post: “Even the Paleo-beloved coconut has almost 400 grams of phytic acid per 100 gram serving. ”
    I have to assume you meant 400 mg. Right?

  47. missysoupy says

    Wow. This just blew my mind. I couldn’t figure out why I was still being diagnosed as a “functioning anemic” in spite of a paleo-friendly diet, including loads of red meat, PLUS iron supplementation (I had even started digestive enzymes, thinking there were issues with digestion). But I am a nut addict, and therein lies the problem! I am going to reassess my diet, trying to minimize (not eliminate…a girl needs her dark chocolate. Ha.) my phytic acid intake, and reassess after 30 days. Thank you for the work you do, and for your balanced approach to nutrition (and life!).

  48. Lara says

    I read that most of the phytic acid in almonds is found on the skin, and therefore when it’s removed (say to make almond flour) that it’s actually fairly low in phytic acid. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to find much research on this, so I don’t know if it’s true or not. Any idea?

    • Kat says

      If I don’t soak macadamia nuts they give me a sore stomach that comes back every time I eat anything for the next couple of days. So maybe it’s the lectins?

  49. LynnetLocal says

    Nuts are also very high in oxalates, which can be a significant problem for many people. When the body’s ability to dispose of oxalates is compromised due to leaky gut, stress, lack of minerals in the diet, or hormonal differences, it can build up many places including muscles, bones, and endocrine glands. This contributes to a number of pain syndromes, such as fibromyalgia. Oxalates are also a reason why those universally-acclaimed leafy greens might not always be the best choice for health.

    • Jack Kronk says

      Hmm. That’s interesting. I have been told I probably have leaky gut, and I have had multiple oxalate kidney stones in the past (granted.. pre-paleo). I wonder if oxalates ar contributing to the odd pain I have felt in my chest for months. It is still present, and I am at a loss for how to combat it.

    • Joy says

      Universally-acclaimed leafy greens? What are you smoking? Our species has survived all this time on what exactly? water? beef? While the Paleo diet might not be the best choice. I have found myself feeling TONS better when I incorporate more greens in my diet, less fruits and less foods that raise the acid in my body. There’s a thing called balance. We can just mow down on nuts and beef. I’m sure the nutritional benefits of the nuts if eaten in “moderation” would outweigh the anti-nutrients. Too much of anything is bad for you. It’s about a “balanced” diet. The modern Paleo diet doesn’t exactly work because people that lived in the Paleo time ate based on instincts and what was available. People today don’t eat based on instincts. They eat based on government commercialization and what “they” think we should eat. caveman didn’t eat cereal! While cereal in small amounts occasionally would be okay. it shouldn’t make up the bulk of our diet. You can get good carbs and fibre from other foods.

  50. Rob says

    What is the right type of Macadamia nut, i.e., toasted? salted? flavored? raw? in the shell?… and where on earth can you buy them?

  51. says

    You can buy them roasted, though personally I stay away from roasted nuts as I don’t think it does the oils much good. Otherwise raw. I buy mine from the healthfood store but you may have to search online. Even our UK supermarkets do them! Not sure if you can get them routinely in the US?

  52. Dragan says

    Chris,

    I can’t help wonder, given many of the replies, whether this useful bit of knowledge did more damage psychologically than helped biologically :)

  53. LynnetLocal says

    You can get more information from the website lowoxalate.info. There is also a very active Yahoo forum, Trying_Low_Oxalates. Members include people with kidney stones, fibromyalgia, interstitial cystitis, vulvodynia, and parents of autistic children. Fibromyalgia seems especially responsive to a low oxalate diet; my fibromyalgia is almost nonexistent after eighteen months of low-oxalate diet, and other list members have similar results. Oxalates can collect in muscles, bones, organs, and endocrine glands, when the body does not have enough capacity to excrete them. This capacity varies widely between individuals, which is why some people can eat spinach, chocolate and a boatload of nuts without symptoms, and others end up with stones, rashes, and pain syndromes. Celiac disease and leaky gut predispose people to oxalate problems.

  54. Lisa says

    Hi Chris! I found this great article and breakdown re nuts, PUFA’s, Omega 6′s and Phytic Acid. Although he says macadamias are very low and of no concern due to their PUFA being very low and most of their fat being monounsaturated that the Omega6/Omega-3 ratio is not a concern even in high amounts. He says they are also very low in phytic acid but does not give a level. I sent him a request for the phytic acid level on his FB page to see if he knows. Here is the link:
    http://paleodietlifestyle.com/are-nuts-and-seeds-healthy/

  55. majkinetor says

    I don’t think phytic acid (IP6) is problematic with proper nutrition and supplementation. Its also everywhere, so if you plan to eat plants at all, you will have to live with IP6 ‘horros’

    First, the action of IP6 should be viewed related to sex. There is evidence that iron should be kept on lower levels high enough not to case anemia. For pre-menopausal females chelating of iron may not be good idea.

    Now, instead of reiterating all this, here are sequences from the paper “Phytate: impact on environment and human nutrition” which summed it up nicely. So, I will keep my IP6, thx :)

    ——————-

    Ascorbic acid and meat can to some extent reverse the inhibition of iron absorption by IP6. In presence of excess phytic acid, formation of soluble complexes between PA and a metal ion displaying 1:1 stoichiometries predominates. However, when metal ions are in excess, an insoluble solid
    called phytate is formed .The pH is another factor influencing the solubility of phytic acid (Cheryan, 1980).

    Phytic acid accumulates during seed development until the seeds reach maturity and accounts for 60%~90% of total phosphorous content in cereals, legumes, nuts and oil seeds (Lott et al., 2000; 2001).
    It is however found in most eukaryotic tissues, where it is kept adherent to the cell walls through phosphoinositides, or in complexes with proteins or ions (Torres et al., 2005; Veiga et al., 2006). Phytic acid is found in ten-fold higher concentrations in the brains of rats as in the kidney, indicating that it has great potential outside the plant kingdom. In eukaryotes in general, three main features of PA keep it involved in a number of metabolic processes: its chelating properties and its ability to function as a phosphate donor/acceptor makes it ubiquitous/abundant in numerous cell systems. Moreover, the lower inositol phosphates are involved in a number of cell signalling pathways.

    In mammalian organisms, PA has been implicated in starch digestibility and blood glucose response (Lee et al., 2006), in the prevention of dystropic calcifications in soft tissues (Grases et al., 2004)
    and kidney stone formation (Grases et al., 1998; Selvam, 2002), and in the lowering of cholesterol and triglycerides (Jariwalla, 1999; Onomi et al., 2004).
    PA has also been suggested to be part of a structure that could inhibit transcription of the viral genome from HIV-1 (Filikov and James, 1998), and apparently it has been tested in toothpaste as a tool for
    preventing plaque formation. At the cellular level, PA or inositol phosphate intermediates are involved in gene regulation, efficient export of mRNA, RNA-editing and DNA repair (York et al., 1999; York, 2006). The lower inositol phosphates such as Ins(1,4,5)P3 take part in cell signalling cascades (Berridge and Irvine, 1989) and pathways leading to versatile functions within Ca2+ mobilisation and signalling (Efanov et al., 1997; Larsson et al., 1997). They also contribute to protein folding (Macbeth et al., 2005) and trafficking (Shears, 2004), endo- and exocytosis (Efanov et al., 1997; Saiardi et al., 2002), oocyte maturation (Angel et al.,2002), and cell division and differentiation (Berridge and Irvine, 1989)

  56. majkinetor says

    Needless to say, absorption IS promoted with supplementation and/or diet:

    “Absorption and excretion of orally administered inositol hexaphosphate (IP6)”

    “A study of the pharmacokinetic profile (oral absorption and renal excretion) of inositol hexaphosphate or phytate (IP(6)) is presented. Seven healthy volunteers were following a IP(6) poor diet (IP(6)PD) in a first period, and on IP(6) normal diet (IP(6)ND) in a second one. When following the IP(6)PD they become deficient in IP(6), the basal levels found in plasma (0.07+/- 0.01 mg/L) being clearly lower than those found when IP(6)ND was consumed (0.26+/- 0.03 mg/L). During the restriction period the maximum concentration in plasma were obtained 4 h after the ingestion of a single dose of IP(6), observing almost the same renal excretion profiles for the three different commercial sources and doses. After the IP(6) restriction period, volunteers were on IP(6)ND, reaching normal plasma and urinary IP(6) values in 16 days. Thus, the normal plasma and urinary concentrations, can be obtained either by consumption of a IP(6)ND taking a long time or in a short period by IP(6) supplements

  57. Karen says

    Oh crap.
    I drink coconut milk (aroy-d … two ingredients … coconut & water) and just ordered some coconut manna.
    One of my favorite snacks is Greek yogurt with cocoa powder mixed in.
    I am sad. :(

  58. says

    There is an update to the WAPF article on coconut flour:

    COCONUT AND PHYTIC ACID
    I’m writing in regard to the article written by Ramiel Nagel titled “Living with Phytic Acid” (Spring 2010). In the article there are references to the phytic acid content of coconut. Since the publication of this article people have been asking me whether they should soak coconut or coconut flour to reduce the phytic acid.

    Phytic acid occurs in nuts and seeds in two forms—phytic acid and phytic acid salts [Reddy, NR and Sathe, SK (Eds.) Food Phytates. CRC Press, 2001]. Both are generally referred to as “phytates.” Together, these two compounds make up the total percentage of phytates reported in various foods. However, they do not possess the same chelating power. So the chelating effect of the phytates in corn, wheat, or soy are not the same as those in coconut. You cannot predict the chelating effect based on total phytate content alone.

    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;49:48-57). In other words, coconut flour did not bind to the minerals. Therefore, soaking or other phytic acid-neutralizing processes are completely unnecessary.

    Soaking has been suggested as a means to reduce the phytic acid content in grains and nuts. Some suggest coconut flour should also be soaked. To soak coconut flour doesn’t make any sense. The coconut meat from which the flour is made, is naturally soaked in water its entire life (12 months) as it is growing on the tree. To remove the meat from the coconut and soak it again is totally redundant. After the coconut meat has been dried and ground into flour, soaking it would ruin the flour and make it unusable. You should never soak coconut flour.

    In 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.

    Bruce Fife, ND
    Colorado Springs, Colorado

  59. says

    Maybe have almond milk instead of almonds…

    Unsweetened almond milk contains 35 calories. 1 ounce of whole almonds contains 169 calories and about 22 almonds.. hence a cup of commercial almond milk contains about 5 almonds and about 100 mg phytic acid – well within the toleration range. You could have 4 cups a day and still be at 400 mg phytic acid.

    • Chris Kresser says

      Unsweetened almond milk (from the store) – along with most of the nut and seed milks – contain carageenan, which has been linked to cancer and inflammatory bowel disease. If you consume nut milk, it should be homemade.

  60. says

    The Blue Zone research is that eating 2 ounces of nuts 4-5 times per week increases longevity. (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=91285403).

    I wonder if this is due to the high phytic acid in the nuts reducing serum ferritin levels? For this to be the case, best would be to eat the nuts as a snack, at least 2 hours before/after a meal. Any phytic acid that doesn’t bind to minerals in the gut is absorbed into the bloodstream, where it can bind to iron (and other minerals). But this effect from nuts could easily explain why they increase longevity.

    • Glenn Atkisson says

      Yes, Tim,
      Many other sources on longevity, as well as the one Chris quotes from here, don’t paint such a negative picture of nuts as seems to have turned up here (“Food Phytates”). I really can’t see how nuts, which are usually eaten as a snack, either to the exclusion of other foods, or combined with few foods, and definitely not eaten with a meal, can have much of an effect on all the rest of the food eaten during, say, 3 or 4 meals of one’s daily life. Most healthy people on a primal diet have rapid elimination, and there is little “co-digestion” of meals in the intestine. Therefore, a snack of nuts, and the contained phytates, will have little effect it would seem, on all the minerals that have been provided by foods in the other daily meals. And if one eats an entire meal of nuts, but does so only every other day, it has even less effect on the total mineral intake of an individual.
      Personally, I eat nuts whenever I want, and have for years. And I eat what might provide 3 or 4 times the amount of phytic acid that is indicated as healthy in this article, as I usually eat almonds by the handful. The good part about my diet though, is that I hardly ever eat legumes or grains, and I almost always have the large quantity of nuts as an evening snack. So my typical meal is devoid of any significant amount of phytic acid. That is probably what allows me to have normal levels of mineral when I have had a hair analysis. Because of the actual test on my actual body, I tend to take advice such as that in this article more as sensationalism than as advice to start guiding my life by. I need a “sample size” no great than one to determine what is working for my body: I eat nuts, my minerals are plentiful.
      However, I’m not saying that I think I would be just as healthy with regard to minerals on board if I were eating a diet of grains and beans daily. I’m just happy I got off that habit quite a while ago, and have felt better ever since.
      Thanks for providing the link to the “Blue Zone” review. That’s a book I still need to read!

  61. says

    Hi, Chris!

    I listened to your podcast the other day which led me to this post. I am glad you wrote it — it’s a very important post. Just because we avoid grains does not mean we are avoiding phytic acid, especially if we are eating lots of unsoaked nuts, seeds, and chocolate.

    Regarding coconut flour, there is a letter from Bruce Fife, ND in the new fall edition of the Weston A Price Foundation’s Wise Traditions journal.

    According to Bruce, we do not need to soak coconut flour. I posted about it today, with the quote from Bruce:

    http://www.cheeseslave.com/2011/11/02/should-we-soak-coconut-flour/

    It makes sense to me. The coconut flour is made from the meat of the coconut, which is also what the coconut milk comes from. He makes the point that the coconut meat is naturally soaked in the coconut water (in the shell) for about a year. He also makes the point that many traditional cultures lived on coconut as a staple and they didn’t show signs of mineral deficiencies.

    Ann Marie

  62. says

    Hi there,
    Thanks so much for this post. I have been wandering around the web trying to figure out some remaining skin issues for my 3 year old daughter’s and I feel like this may be the last diet issue we need to contend with.
    We have been eating a paleo diet for just over a year now. We noticed with my daughter that after cutting out grains and in particular, dairy, her skin (face, back of arms) really cleared up initially (as did mine). But in our early days of paleo, we were cooking/baking a lot of substitutes (pancakes, breads, muffins, cookies, some seriously yummy stuff that helped with the transition) but in recent months we have cut back to the basics – meat, veg, some fruit, and nuts. Over time the backs of her arms and cheeks really flared up again. We thought it might be an issue of consuming too much fruit (she is MAD about fruit, in a serious way) but realize that her nut consumption is also really rather high. She is a small person and eats loads of almonds, almond butter, pistachios, walnuts, etc. There was a time she was consuming a bowl every morning at 5am – kept her quiet until 6 or so.
    I have realized that my skin issues (back of my arms particularly) have cleared as I eliminated nuts – they just dont make me feel 100% and I rarely feel like snacking anymore so they are easy to get rid of.
    I wonder if this could be the issue for her. We have taken her off nuts for a four or five days now (and she cries for them daily like I have seen other kids cry for candy or goldfish crackers) so we will see if her skin begins to heal in time.
    Have you heard of anything like this before? I would love to know if anyone else has experienced this or if I should be looking elsewhere in her diet? I dont want to make her kooky with food issues but I also know she is a sensitive little gal and would like to get things in order for her so she doesn’t have to deal with skin, digestive and other issues like my husband and I.
    Thanks!

  63. says

    Thanks for that well reasoned argument, thoroughly backed with an invitation to Google for something which turns up an Asian advert revenue generation farm. Do please add more of your insights when they occur to you. That certainly told Mark Sisson what’s what.

  64. Nan says

    Any idea why eating cashews (after being soaked and dehydrated) would cause extreme itchiness in my eyelids. I can tolerate soaked/dehydrated almonds, pecans, sunflower seeds.

    I must eat a handful of soaked/blanched (to make skins easy to remove/ dehydrated almonds daily to help with bowel activity. Because I can’t tolerate cellulose I can’t take most magnesium pills. Though I did find a straight powder, the nuts seem to work better.

    I didn’t know about the roasting but wonder if the blanching achieves the same effect.

      • Nan says

        Thank you. I was hoping it was some weird exotic reason such as chemicals used in processing or a mad fairy godmother. (LOL.)

    • CJ says

      Cashews are odd; the part we consume (the seed, not really a nut) is only part of the fruit. In order to be safe for consumption, the seed must be freed of naturally-occurring urushiol, the same compound that makes poison ivy such a toxic nasty. Although roasting supposedly destroys all of the urushiol, I sometimes wonder if people that have an extreme sensitivity to urushiol might respond to some tiny vestage of the stuff.

      Or, more likely, you’re simply allergic to cashews.

  65. Bethany says

    Thanks for all the great information. Several of you mentioned ‘roasting’ soaked and dehydrated nuts. Please give an idea of how you roast them as I am new to this and am learning that high temps damage fats, etc. How does one roast properly prepared nuts healthfully? (Thanks)

  66. says

    Great article Chris. One other comment on nuts, and I appologize if someone commented on this, is the addictive nature of them. I have several individuals (including myself in the past) who find themselves experiencing a binge-like effect when eating nuts, similar to that experienced with sugary foods. This makes me cautious/suspicious of nuts and gives me another reason to avoid them.

    • Robin H says

      I agree Caveman. I’m probably not alone in the fact that I do not EVER binge on eggs, cheese, meat or veggies. I just eat an appropriate amount and stop, as anything more would be disgusting. Nuts are the only thing besides high-carb or sweet foods (including stevia) where I lose touch entirely with how much my body actually needs. It’s frustrating, because I do feel that a reasonable amount of nuts in the diet may be a good thing, but I literally cannot keep them around very often as my daily calorie count probably goes up by almost a thousand. I try to purchase nuts that I don’t care for that much (which is ridiculous), so I can use small amounts in salads and not be tempted to eat them out of the bag. It’s an interesting mystery as to why certain foods cause binging tendencies and others don’t.

  67. says

    Honestly, this news about phytic acid is somewhat disheartening. So, it’s in our beloved dark chocolate, our coconut and coconut milk, and our nuts as well. Great. It seems like the longer I do Paleo, the more items get removed from my menu. Somehow, I have to believe that concentrating on phytic acid content is analogous to focusing on seeing the trees instead of the forest. It just can’t be that important of a factor when everything is considered.

    • Glenn Atkisson says

      I agree, Wil! One problem with Science is it quickly outlines all the things you don’t know. That is depressing in and of itself. I think if you can manage a couple of good meals without much phytic acid intake, your digestion will get the nutrients into your body sufficiently so that then if you snack on nuts, or eat a meal with some grain, you aren’t robbed so much. And that is a pattern that somewhat healthy people follow anyway. Eat your chocolate and nuts as snacks! Only have one “carb” meal. You’ll still have a lot of phytate-free digestion going on, the way I see it.

  68. Debbie T. says

    Wow! My doctor encouraged me to eat 3 or 4 Brazil nuts per day for the selenium. Any other good sources? I sure don’t want to eat those nuts anymore.

    This has been a great post and follow-up comments!

  69. says

    The Paleo diet does NOT encourage eating large amounts of nuts. They are encourage only in small amonuts. Soaking., dehydrating and roasting nuts can greatly reduce the phytic acid content and removing skin reduces the tannins. Perhaps certain Paleo individuals eat more than they should. But that is not what the diet recommends.

    • Chris Kresser says

      That’s true in theory, but in practice a lot of people on a Paleo diet chow down nuts like they’re going out of style.

  70. says

    Lots of people do lots of stupid things, it they choose to not follow the diet that they subscribe to, then that shouldn’t reflect on the diet. One might suggest that if they haven’t actually read the diet(and therefore would know the ratios in which something should be consumed) or they don’t follow the diet they have read… then in theory they are not really on the said diet. I’ve read many a blog that spoke on the negative affects of nuts and seeds and yet told me nothing of the dangers grains and legumes. I actually like that your article addresses both. I think Paleo/GAPS often get a bad name though because people are not actually reading the diets. They are kinda just winging it. It’s like a game of telephone…things just gets farther and farther from the truth. GAPS says no more that 20 % of your diet should be nuts and seeds(and that’s after being soaked and prepared properly) Paleo most often suggest no more than 4 oz a day. Raw foodies however, don’t seem to have a limit on nuts and seeds.

  71. Susan says

    Hi Chris,
    I often put 10 (or so) almonds in my water bottle and drink out of my water bottle throughout the day while the almonds are soaking, by the end of the day the water tastes very much like almonds. Is this okay to do?
    Thanks! S

  72. Ron says

    Hello,
    This is a controversial subject. Taking vitamin c with nuts can inhibit phytic acids ability to bind iron. In those of us over 40 is iron binding a bad thing? If nuts are eaten as a standalone snack are they binding minerals? If I take a multi mineral away from nuts and eat lots of green leafy’s would I develop mineral deficiency’s? And what about the benefits of phytic acid?

    Therapeutic uses

    Phytic acid may be considered a phytonutrient, providing an antioxidant effect.[1][21] Phytic acid’s mineral binding properties may also prevent colon cancer by reducing oxidative stress in the lumen of the intestinal tract.[22] Researchers now believe phytic acid, found in the fiber of legumes and grains, is the major ingredient responsible for preventing colon cancer and other cancers.[1][23]

    In vitro studies using a cell culture model have suggested phytic acid may have a neuroprotective effect by chelating iron.[24] Similar types of cell-culture studies have found phytic acid significantly decreased apoptotic cell death induced by 1-methyl-4-phenylpyridinium. Phytic acid, at least in rodents, is known to cross the blood-brain barrier,[25] and so, there is a strong possibility that neuroprotection occurs in vivo as well.

    Phytic acid’s chelating effect may serve to prevent, inhibit, or even cure some cancers by depriving those cells of the minerals (especially iron) they need to reproduce.[1] The deprivation of essential minerals like iron would, much like other systemic treatments for cancers, also have negative effects on noncancerous cells.

    A randomized, controlled trial in breast cancer patients showed no effect on chemotherapy-induced anemia or tumor markers, but the patients reported subjectively feeling better.[26]

    Phytic acid is one of few chelating therapies used for uranium removal.[27]

    It has been shown to be a required cofactor for YopJ, a toxin from Yersinia pestis.[28] It is also a required cofactor for the related toxin AvrA from Salmonella typhimurium[28] as well as Clostridium difficile Toxin A and Toxin B.

    As a food additive, phytic acid is used as a preservative, as E391.[29]

    • Glenn Atkisson says

      Thanks Ron for all the neat things on phytic acid!

      “If nuts are eaten as a standalone snack are they binding minerals?”

      I tend to eat my healthy portion of nuts (almost every day) as a snack, with only an apple to compliment them. I figure if there is anything to mineral loss, it’s happening only in this snack, not to the other meals I take, which have very little carbs, including breads/beans, in them.

      So glad to hear about all the positives of phytic acid. At least I’m getting a good batch of it!

  73. says

    Chris,
    I was reading Ramiel Nagel’s article on phytic acid and after scrolling through the comments I came across this particular comment. I’m interested on your thoughts.
    “COCONUT AND PHYTIC ACID
    I’m writing in regard to the article written by Ramiel Nagel titled “Living with Phytic Acid” (Spring 2010). In the article there are references to the phytic acid content of coconut. Since the publication of this article people have been asking me whether they should soak coconut or coconut flour to reduce the phytic acid.
    Phytic acid occurs in nuts and seeds in two forms—phytic acid and phytic acid salts [Reddy, NR and Sathe, SK (Eds.) Food Phytates. CRC Press, 2001]. Both are generally referred to as “phytates.” Together, these two compounds make up the total percentage of phytates reported in various foods. However, they do not possess the same chelating power. So the chelating effect of the phytates in corn, wheat, or soy are not the same as those in coconut. You cannot predict the chelating effect based on total phytate content alone.
    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;49:48-57). In other words, coconut flour did not bind to the minerals. Therefore, soaking or other phytic acid-neutralizing processes are completely unnecessary.
    Soaking has been suggested as a means to reduce the phytic acid content in grains and nuts. Some suggest coconut flour should also be soaked. To soak coconut flour doesn’t make any sense. The coconut meat from which the flour is made, is naturally soaked in water its entire life (12 months) as it is growing on the tree. To remove the meat from the coconut and soak it again is totally redundant. After the coconut meat has been dried and ground into flour, soaking it would ruin the flour and make it unusable. You should never soak coconut flour.
    In 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.”

    Bruce Fife, ND
    Colorado Springs, Colorado

  74. Tara says

    Interesting article. If you soak and dry (or sprout) nuts and seeds will this process neutralize toxins like phytic acid? I know this germinating process neutralizes the enzyme inhibitors making them easier for our bodies to ingest and absorb (per Dr. Edward Howell’s book, Enzyme Nutrition). What do you think?

  75. says

    Thanks Chris :) Who says there’s no “Undo” on the Internet?

    Tara (and anyone else wondering after reading Tara’s question): Yes, Chris spoke about soaking and drying nuts to remove the phytic acid.

  76. Florent Berthet says

    When would be the best time to eat chocolate/nuts if we want to lower their bad effect on mineral absorption?

  77. Benjamin says

    So does anyone know if bananas are safe to eat? I LOVE them, but I am having trouble digesting enough zinc and magnesium as is, I need more not less! I’ve read somewhere else that Bananas contain no pyhtates (because theyve been bred to be seedless) is this true?
    thanks, Benjamin

  78. Alex says

    Hey Chris?
    I usually have pumpkin and sunflower seeds in my muesli. What about them? Should I soak them? And how do you rate almond milk?
    Thank you
    Alex

  79. ChrisG says

    Wow, that cocoa powder news is really depressing. I have some in my coffee right now. Wondering if boiling can effect the phytic acid content.

  80. Gabriel says

    I found this very thorough article: http://donmatesz.blogspot.com/2011/10/phytate-facts.html

    It seems obvious that if someone is getting all their minerals in abundance, any amount of phytic acid can be great news. I’m a raw vegan (supplemented) and after my investigation here, I’m very confident about my diet choice. My skin looks great and a whole lot of health problems are solved. Now, I *really* appreciate my nuts!

  81. David Potter says

    In the June 13, 2012 Revolution Health Radio Show: What Science Really Says About the Paleo Diet, Mat Lalonde states at 26:28 “The misconceptions about phytic acid” that we do not need to be concerned about phytic acid at all. Is it possible that that is a conflict with this article?

  82. Jennie says

    As a previous poster said, thank you for this informative (and disappointing) article. I too have a heavy feeling when I consume nuts/nut butters and was surprised to see someone else put it into words like that. I tried to keep nuts in my diet in small quantities I guess because there is so much I don’t eat that I figured I should be able to, but I don’t like the way I feel when I eat more than a little. My question is about sunflower seeds: is this a good replacement? I don’t see them on the list…

  83. Florent Berthet says

    Chris, you say that “we absorb approximately 20 percent more zinc and 60 percent more magnesium from our food when phytic acid is absent”, but what about the fact that nuts often contain loads of zinc and magnesium? Wouldn’t eating nuts result in a net positive absorption of these minerals?

    • Chris Kresser says

      The point is that a lesser amount of nutrients will be absorbed unless the nuts are soaked to inactivate phytate.

      • Florent Berthet says

        Are you talking about the nutrients in the nuts or in the other ingested foods? I would find surprising that eating nuts would cause a total net loss in zinc absorption for the body given that nuts contain a lot of it.

  84. says

    Dear Chris,
    I have just read “Why Stomach Acid is Good for You” which you quote in your stomach acid blogs.
    He says if we have high stomach acid levels then phytates are not a problem? Could you comment?
    Also I would LOVE to know why we get low stomach acid as we get older? No one has addressed the cause.

    • Chris Kresser says

      Yes, some amount of phytate isn’t problematic, and it’s actually higher in foods like spinach than it is in nuts. That said, people don’t tend to overeat spinach, but the same can’t be said for nuts.

      The main cause of low stomach acid as people age is probably increased rates of h. pylori infection.

      • Jo Somebody says

        Oh no! I eat a spinach and fruit based smoothie several times a week! How much would be over eating spinach? I found this article as I was deciding to increase my weekly nut intake (from its current ZERO!) and someone mentioned phytic acid. Thanks for sharing your knowledge!

        • I_Fortuna says

          The big problem with spinach is oxalic acid. Over consumption of okra, beet roots, chard, spinach and a few others can lead to kidney stones. Oxalic acid binds to calcium.
          “Oxalic acid is a naturally occurring chemical in plants and animals and is also consumed in a variety of different foods such as leafy greens, nuts, seeds, most berries, certain fruits, soy and soy products, meat and dairy products. In large amounts, oxalic acid is poisonous, but toxic levels are not found in foods that we normally eat.
          The main controversy surrounding oxalic acid in food is whether or not they contribute to the formation of kidney stones. About 80% of the kidney stones formed by adults in the U.S.A. are composed of calcium oxalate. Oxalic acid binds with other minerals such as calcium which form a salt known as an oxalate. Oxalic acid interferes with the absorption of calcium in foods because they bind with it, making it unusable by your body.”
          http://www.incrediblesmoothies.com/green-smoothies/oxalates-spinach-oxalic-acid-health-concern/
          I will mention kale because it is one of the lowest in oxalic acid. It also has about 3 times the A and C of other greens. So, because of the this C content maybe the effects are reduced.

  85. Ben says

    Thank you Mr. Kresser, for taking time to go on the UnderGround Wellness show. I appreciate the comments and information you provided and shared with all.

    In that interview, you spoke about the numerous benefits of cold water fish. You also mention the potential negative effects of mercury (offset by selenium levels present in wild fish), and PCBs + dioxins.

    I am currently reading Our Stolen Future and in it, multiple studies relate to the Great Lake fishes and their high levels of man-made chemicals. If I consider the arguments you gave in the interview with Sean, this should have little effects, however the studies revealed in the book show numerous negative effects on people and their 2nd and 3rd generation siblings (some physical illness, however the majority of the effects being hormonal). Moreover, the fishes studied did not include shark, whales, or tuna (not present in the Great Lakes).

    I want to consume large amounts of fish…I understood when you spoke about EPA, DHA, ALA and that only 5 or 6% of plant based omega 3 is converted to longer chain fatty acids…but I am very hesitant and not convinced that cold water smaller fish are safe…

    What to do?

    One other question if I may? (sorry for the long email), omega 3, being especially long chain omega 3 fatty acids are especially sensitive to light, and heat. Exposing the fatty acids to such conditions would render them rancid very quickly and lose most of their benefits? If this is the case, wouldnt cooking fish make the beneficial fats in question rancid? What would be the best way to consume fish? (in order to preserve the sensitive fats)?

    Ben

  86. dill says

    paleo encourages nuts because of the good fats and proteins in them. legumes and grains dont have that. while phytic acid does leach minerals, in a healthy person gut bacteria break down these componds to release the minerals for reabsorption. there is also some evidence of phytic acid being an antioxidant.

    that said, everything good in moderation!

  87. Choymae Huie says

    I’m so confuse and would love to hear your comments on this, so I will know if it’s safe to start binding on coconuts again.

    Romiel Nagel posted this information in his article Living with Phytic Acid under MORE UPDATES

    COCONUT AND PHYTIC ACID
    I’m writing in regard to the article written by Ramiel Nagel titled “Living with Phytic Acid” (Spring 2010). In the article there are references to the phytic acid content of coconut. Since the publication of this article people have been asking me whether they should soak coconut or coconut flour to reduce the phytic acid.
    Phytic acid occurs in nuts and seeds in two forms—phytic acid and phytic acid salts [Reddy, NR and Sathe, SK (Eds.) Food Phytates. CRC Press, 2001]. Both are generally referred to as “phytates.” Together, these two compounds make up the total percentage of phytates reported in various foods. However, they do not possess the same chelating power. So the chelating effect of the phytates in corn, wheat, or soy are not the same as those in coconut. You cannot predict the chelating effect based on total phytate content alone.
    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;49:48-57). In other words, coconut flour did not bind to the minerals. Therefore, soaking or other phytic acid-neutralizing processes are completely unnecessary.
    Soaking has been suggested as a means to reduce the phytic acid content in grains and nuts. Some suggest coconut flour should also be soaked. To soak coconut flour doesn’t make any sense. The coconut meat from which the flour is made, is naturally soaked in water its entire life (12 months) as it is growing on the tree. To remove the meat from the coconut and soak it again is totally redundant. After the coconut meat has been dried and ground into flour, soaking it would ruin the flour and make it unusable. You should never soak coconut flour.
    In 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.

    Bruce Fife, ND
    Colorado Springs, Colorado

    This also leads me to wonder if the chelating power is different, not just in coconut, but all nuts from the chelating effects of grains and legumes and also where you would find a list that defines the type of phytic acid in each food.

  88. says

    Hi! Thanks for the info!

    I have a question though which has already bothering me for a while. What happens to the “good fats” in the nuts when you roast them? Don’t they oxidate like it would be the case with olive oil, butter etc. when they get too hot?

    Thanks in advance!
    Nico

  89. Katie says

    I notice a lot of nuts aren’t listed here. What about phytic acid levels for macadamias, pistachios, hazelnuts or cashews?

  90. Hayley says

    Chris, I believe you are a fan of the GAPS diet for gut healing, and I have a question re: NCM’s recommendations for nut intake. She doesn’t seem very concerned about anti-nutrients or PUFAs. Nuts are recommended, as are additional supplementary nut/seed oils, fish oils, and cod liver oil. To me, coming from a paleo background, that seems like a ton of PUFA. When you recommend GAPS to your clients, do you advise them to cut out the supplementary oils and nuts, aside from the CLO?
    (Sorry if this is a little off topic, but wasn’t sure where to ask this question.)

    • julia says

      Yes I would like to know the answer to this question too. I have started the GAPS diet and am really concerned with amount of nuts/seeds it recommends? I am getting confused and overwhelmed with all this info. I am also very underweight and don’t know how the best way is to gain weight on the GAPS as it is so carb limiting. What do you recommend for your clients that you put on the GAPS, what does your version of the GAPS diet look like?

  91. says

    David, in the podcast linked by Anna on the comment just above mine, he talks about how most phytic acid in food is already bound to a nutrient, so it won’t decrease the nutrient absorption we get from other foods, and therefore the amount of phytic acid in a certain food will mostly only decrease how much nutrient we can get from THAT food.

  92. Shira says

    I’m not a fan of phytates, as I’ve noticed a severe difference between the way I feel after drinking store bought almond milk (probably full of phytates) versus the sprouted nut milk that I make at home. (the store bought milk made me soooooo sick, I felt like I overdosed on laxatives).

    But, Chris, why are there so many articles and studies that say people with a high phytate diet have less osteoporosis?? Are they influenced by the agricultural industry, because I don’t believe them.

  93. ovi says

    Hi Chris
    I’ve started on a diet for mass building, so I have been eating oats, brown rice,whole bread,whole pasta, peanut butter, and different peanuts types, every day, with meat, dairy and all other ‘healthy’ recommended stuff. I’ve been experiencing lots of bloating which did not happen before. Luckily I found this site were I found out that phytic acid may cause indigestion, and as you can see I was eating lots of that stuff. Do you think that might have caused my indigestion and bloating? Is there a way I can still eat them by soaking or other things? if not can you recommend something else I can have for carbs and fiber? thank you

  94. Seren says

    Hi All,

    Great article :)

    I was wondering (not good!) ….. ok ‘pondering’ on going through a process of soaking for 18-24 hours on all nuts / seeds and then roasting enough so that this only needs to be done once a month!! What are peoples view on this?? It would certainly be much more cost and time effective?? Responses are eagerly anticipated and gracias in advance :) Seren

  95. says

    I eat quite a lot of nuts as do one or two of my clients. Not only that I also drink a lot of cocoa through the day. As both these foods are very high in phytates I have been interested to research the effects of phytates on health.
    I came to the conclusion that phytates were unlikely to cause harm for most people unless they were predisposed to deficiency in the key minerals that phytates bind to, such as magnesium. The problem is mostly one for the third world where a dietary staple may contain a lot of phytate and perhaps not a lot of the key minerals to which it binds.
    It is interesting and perhaps unsurprising on reflection, that the very mineral bound to so strongly by phytate is often present in large amounts within foods such as nuts, seeds and cocoa. Magnesium being a prime example.
    I wrote my own article on phytate for which I have used Chris K among the sources. http://www.drdobbin.co.uk/phytates.

  96. says

    Does the drying/dehydrating/roasting step reduce phytic acid or is it simply for storing purposes and to improve the nut’s texture? I was previously adding a handful of raw nuts to my shakes but have stopped since I wasn’t soaking them.

    I’d like to start adding them again but straight from the jar after they’ve soaked and into my blender.

  97. Tanzi says

    So if I prepare 100 grams of black beans by soaking and sprouting them, which helps get rid of the anti-nutrients (although not completely) that would be better for me then grabbing 100 grams or actually less since they are higher than 100 grams of refried beans, to eat? This is more for my son who is 23 months and the only Paleo “safe” carbs he can eat are sweet potatoes, all the rest constipate him. He can’t eat white rice either for the same reason. I am kinda out of Paleo carb options for him, although he really loves his sweet potatoes. :)

  98. chris says

    I just read that phytic acid is found in the HULLS of nuts and grains. So, if a nut is hulled or a whole grain is polished, for example, then they would not contain phytic acid?

    • Chris Kresser says

      That is correct, and it’s one reason I think white rice is generally well-tolerated. It’s mostly starch.

  99. says

    I am admittedly a “health nut” but not persuaded about the phytic acid thing–this seems all too speculative and theoretical despite some studies. Too many other studies show that nuts are powerfully preventive against heart disease, diabetes and other maladies. If you eat a balanced diet of healthy, natural foods and take supplements, nature has a way of negating and cancelling out the supposed downsides of certain foods.

    • taylor says

      I am with you Ed. You can get all the anti-cancer and heart healthy benefits of nuts, legumes, and whole grains by eating them with absorption promoting foods like garlic and increasing your intake of other nutrient dense foods like leafy greens and berries. The risk is really inflated here and the benefits of these foods are dangerously downplayed. If you want to look at the nutritional science check out Dr. Greger’s video: http://nutritionfacts.org/video/new-mineral-absorption-enhancers-found/.

  100. says

    If you eat a balanced diet, i.e. meat or vegetables or milk, you can eat as many nuts as you want without worrying about phylate. The amount of ion phytate chelates is insignificant compared to the amount of ions you ingest. Also you digestive system contains phytase which breakes down phylate to phosphate. Only creatures that should be worreid about phylate are cattle and feed animals because their diet comprises soley of seeds and distiller grains. I ran into this article while researching phylate uses in fertilizer, and found many anti nuts articles. These are all bullshit. Don’t know who Chris Kesser is but he is no chemist. Alot of doctors have a startling deficiency in basic inorganic chemistry.

  101. Jill says

    When I keep my carbs lower, I tend to crave and feel addicted to nuts- any reason for that? Also, if I prefer to just eliminate them, are there nutrients I would have to “make up” another way? I just always hear so healthy they are that part of me is afraid to give them up. Thanks!

  102. julia says

    I have started the GAPS diet and am wondering/concerned with amount of nuts/seeds it recommends? I am getting confused and overwhelmed with all this info. I am also very underweight and don’t know how the best way is to gain weight on the GAPS as it is so carb limiting. What do you recommend for your clients that you put on GAPS, what does your version of the GAPS diet look like? What would you suggest for weight gain on your version of the GAPS?

  103. Janelle says

    Interesting information. Might be my problem with almond flour baked goods. I can eat a handful of raw almonds but if I have roasted almonds or any baked goods with almond flour, I have a reaction, mild but still a reaction.

  104. tony says

    The biggest problem is with the way we prepare (or don’t prepare) food for consumption these days. Legumes and grains were historically soaked for long periods of time before consumption. Instead of just avoiding all these foods, they should be incorporated into a healthy diet in which everything is prepared so that we can most easily digest and absorb the nutrients, which includes soaking legumes and grains overnight at the very least. Read Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions for more information.

  105. JL says

    This is getting ridiculous. It’s getting to where EVERYTHING we eat is dangerous. EVERYTHING. If you google ANY type of food there is something about it that can cause harm. Just eat nothing. Sit in a closet and sip on water all day.

  106. niko says

    Oat in flakes are high temperature steamtreated(in Denmark, destoying the phyt-ase(enzym speeding up the breaking down of phytic acid) so
    add some ryeflour or barley flakes(in Denmark not steam treated) to oat flakes and
    soak for 6-8 hours may be more (after 20 hours it will turn acid, but beans should be soaked for 24 hours)
    cooking maybe improve the result
    beans soaked 24 hours
    cooked aprox 45 min or 15min under pressure( 2 atomos = aprox 245 Fah
    the minerals now as secundare fosfates may be sedimented , so let some water remain
    en casa of Butterbeans (Limabeans cook without tap (and open window) and all water away)

  107. Brett says

    Hi guys! I’m happy to read such an active and helpful forum. I’m having a hard time finding information on rinsing nuts and rice with food grade hydrogen peroxide. I’m concerned with molds that grow in non-ideal storage conditions. Does anyone have experience with hydrogen peroxide? Any time I soak/rinse rice or walnuts in hydrogen peroxide it foams up like a real bad infection. I’m not sure if this could be a reaction with anything else on the skin or if it does indicate mold/bacteria. Now I know some of those things might not actually need disinfecting but somehow I got the notion in my head that improperly dehydrated foods need to be sterilized before eating. Thoughts?

  108. Jessica Sinclair says

    All of your referenced articles are at least 20 years old… I especially liked the claim that ‘nuts decrease iron absorption even more than wheat bread’ which you have based on a study done in 1988 on Indian women in a poor area that had iron deficiencies. The study also found that small quantities of vitamin C (found in many fruits and vegetables) overcame the effect of the lack of absorption of iron due to the addition of nuts in the diet. I guess you forgot to mention that bit.

    I would be happy to re-evaluate, providing you use more up-to-date and less biased articles to support your claims.

  109. Andre NYC says

    Re phytins in whole grains and particularly flax seeds: I like them freshly ground then added to very hot water, it makes a jello like substance to which it is easy to add flavoring either sweet or salty. Great to curb hunger and add some proteins and roughage in diet when doing a reduced carbo diet, master cleanse like.
    If I understood properly the notes above, there are no issues if consumed separately from main meals – correct? Another question is, regarding minerals robbing/ binding property, would adding a dollop of a minerals rich supplement like molasses prevent these binding negatives?

    • Jeannette says

      If you have not by now…check out Nourishing Traditions, a cookbook by Sally Fallon. “Crispy nuts” recipes have you soak nuts in sea salt (Celtic Sea Salt brand, per my naturopath). Soak at least 7 hours or overnight (12 hours doesn’t hurt) in warm filtered water, in a warm place. cups nuts, 2 tsp sea salt, (also have seen 1 Tbsp sea salt per 1 litre water).
      Drain, and rinse well – especially if you have digestive issues. Nuts can be eaten at this point or dried 12 to 24 hours in a dehydrator or warm oven (150F rcommended). Then store in airtight containter. I use mason jars.
      Note that walnuts are to be stored in the fridge, before and after making crispy nuts. The oil in walnuts goes rancid if stored at room/warm temperatures.
      Sometimes I soak just enough for the day, rinse and carry along in a container.
      For digestive issues and picky eaters, the Gut And Psychology Syndrome book, diet and recipe book is very good as well.
      Happy eating.

  110. Donnacha says

    I don’t understand why DancinPete’s question wasn’t answered? It’s probably the most valid of the lot. Do you not know?… BTW cooking nuts oxidises the omega 3 in nuts making them health damaging free radicles – so bad advice. Not just that, but the grounding of the nuts prior to cooking further oxidises them before hand. I’m sure you know this. What of people using omega 3 rich walnuts and seeds to get the majority of their omega 3, limiting fish to limit mercury?

    • Jeannette says

      Yes, Ann, soaking quinoa and rice is recommended. My Nourishing Traditions cookbook is at home. Try a web search…something like, “Nourishing Traditions Sally Fallon quinoa rice soaking recipes”.
      One Sally Fallon alternative recipe to soaking rice, is this:
      1 Tbsp butter (I use good quality coconut oil or butter ghee (butter oil; whey I don’t tolerate removed), or a combination.
      1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
      2 cups rice of choice
      (onion – I don’t tolerate, so I leave out)
      (cardomom pod seeds – not in my pantry, so I leave out)
      4 cups chicken stock (water with Celtic sea salt & herbs would suffice)
      gelatin {optional)
      optional :diced carrots or other veggies of choice
      In a heavy, thick bottom pot saute onion in butter & olive oil
      Add rice, stir often, cooking until rice turns “milky”
      Pour 4 cups stock over rice and bring to a boil.
      Continue boiling for about 10 minutes until liquid is reduced to the level of the rice.
      I sprinkle Turmeric over the rice and stir to blend; (anti-inflammatory; as are thyme, garlic, ginger, cinnamon, cayenne pepper).
      Optional: stir in diced carrots or other veggies of choice & stir.
      Cover and turn to lowest heat possible, to continue cooking for 1-1/2 to 3 hours.
      I suppose you could transfer to a preheated crock pot.

      I freeze excess in meal sized batches for low reheating with a little water added.

      Hope you enjoy as much as we do.

    • Jeannette says

      Donnacha: In my case (with the digestive issues I’ve developed) when I pre-soak nuts, I tolerate them well, otherwise they cause me pain and go through my system undigested. Didn’t know about omega issues, glad I do not grind or cook with nuts; I do use a dehydrator on low or eat them directly after soaking and rinsing well, without drying.
      I believe DancinPete’s question was answered a couple of times, including by Chris Kresser, in the topic introduction, specifically “What is Phytic Acid and Why Should We Care?”
      Walnuts (pre-soaked) are a favourite of mine. Perhaps their omegas help with heart health, reducing bad LDL cholesterol.

  111. says

    Hello
    It would be great if you can quote your references for all the claims so that if we used this information and passed it onto clients as healthcare practitioners, we can back it up scientifically.
    Thanks very much.
    Regards,

  112. Rhonda says

    Well I am at a total loss! I decided to go Paleo to try and help my body (at the tender young aged of 56!) and I think I may be making things worse.
    I have been making arrowroot flour bread…..too much of that isn’t good.
    I have a nut and seed mix for breakfast….broken up organic almonds, organic pepitas, organic sunflower seeds, organic goji berries, organic dates chopped up, organic coconut flakes, frozen blueberries and chopped banana and Metagenics Phyto Essentials with my Organic home made almond milk…..I am having digestion problems now, not so much in the stomach but towards the other end but I am not constipated, it just feel like my innards are a little inflamed and before ‘going through the motions’ I have quite a bit of discomfort! Apparently almonds are really bad because of the phytic acid and I am probably eating some sort of toxic mix!
    We eat meat and sweet potato and have salad,…..apparently salad is bad now too…..must be cooked foods…..and we are probably having way too much fibre!
    Seriously???? What can one eat???

    • Tim Lundeen says

      Very important not to eat too many nuts, nut milk, nut flour, etc. They are very high polyunsaturated fat, and you want to keep total polyunsaturated fat to 3-4% of calories. The fiber in them can also irritate your gut.

      Try eating more of what Paul Jaminet calls “safe starches”, like sweet potato, white rice, potato, etc. His book is excellent, see “The Perfect Health Diet”. Use animal fats for a big part of your calories, especially butter or clarified butter (if you are sensitive to milk solids).

  113. Tammy says

    So would making your almond milk be okay on the Fodmap eating plan? Looking for alternative to cows milk and possibly healthier.

  114. Tom says

    Great article; I think a lot of “paleo” dieters need to reconsider the legitimacy of nuts in their diet at all. The same tenets by which we reject grains must also lead us to reject nuts and seeds (as major sources of caloric intake).

    I recently participated in a paleo challenge at my crossfit gym. I have been trying to gain weight, so I upped my nut intake to try and make up for getting rid of dairy (I was more lacto-paleo before). At first my skin improved (I think I’m sensitive to dairy), but after upping the nuts I started developing large cysts on my face and I had a noticeable reduction in my rate of healing. My skin was telling me something was wrong, so fter reading that cashews, almonds, and pumpkin seeds are some of the highest sources of phytates I said enough is enough and completely cut out all nuts and seeds. I cleared up after a few weeks and I’ll never go back.

    If you are having trouble losing weight or are having any other immune-related issues and are otherwise fully “paleo” I would definitely get rid of nuts and seeds from your diet.

  115. Helen Maydwell says

    You never include Australian Macadamian nuts. They are one nut which is rich in all the minerals of other nuts but have only a miniscule amount of Phytic acid !! I have a tree in my back garden which yields nuts as big as walnuts and I do not feed it.Check out the Macadamian nuts!

  116. Laura says

    I have been yeast free for almost 10 yrs . I am allergic to a lot of foods. My food choices are very limited, so breakfast and snacks are Very hard. I cannot have a lot of sodium and do not consume any sugar except for sugar Alternative, Erithritol Stevia, Coconut Palm sugar, Etc. I have a digestion, problem and zinc and magnesium deficiency, all due to Heavy metal Poisoning. I have been eating a LOT of nuts, primarily pecans and Macadamia nuts all day. Even as part of my Breakfast along with 3 eggs everyday for years. For the last couple years I have had fatigue and body pain of various intensiveness. My Dr is scratching his head trying to figure out why why this all keeps happening. We think we get it under control only for it to continue. I was wondering this morning if the excessive nut and egg consumption might be causing at least some of the pain and fatigue.

  117. KP says

    I have noticed that whenever something comes out as good for you at some point it is discredited in someway..it is impossible to know what to do to try and eat healthy because of this…I could sight many examples of this but wont as most of you already know this..very discouraging to try and find the right things to do.

    • Huvs says

      I feel the same. It is very frustrating. One puts all that effort in having a healthier diet. I am GF and dairy free and use nuts to make milk, crackers and healthy nutritious desserts and now this. I can’t believe G-d would bother making all these different beautiful fruits and nuts etc and them not be good for you. To spend a week soaking different beans and nuts seems ridiculous we would really be living to eat instead of eating to live!

  118. Samson Sama says

    Best thing to do is to eat a balanced diet, stay of excessive meat ,fruit, nuts, processed food should be avoided, stay off all milk products.Milk is pus for calves not humans especially adults Most importantly eat as little as possible just to ensure you have enough energy and body repairing minerals and vitamins. The rest is just waste of money and poo down the toilet,You do not need to eat every day. so learn to skip meals, you wont die, but will be healthier. fasting is a very good idea, stop thinking of food all the time. whatever type of food.

  119. Gordon says

    Whenever I eat nuts, my stools are flabby, I see lots of pieces of undigested nuts in them.

    It happens whether I eat cashews, almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, or peanuts.

    I was wondering, would grinding help? If the nuts are broken down in a blender, would that decreases the phytic acid and make them easier to digest and absorb.

  120. Erik says

    Hi, thanks for the article – I’m trying to move to a more natural diet and minimise my consumption of heavily processed and artificial foods, along with having more natural health boosts rather than relying on third-party means such as supplements, tooth pastes etc.

    It’s really tricky… after coming across numerous articles telling me about how healthy the fats found in nuts are for us, I come across other readings that show the phytic acid in them impairs absorption of nutrients and can worsen oral health.

    It seems the human body is set up against itself! Can’t have too much fruit because high sugar levels impair oral health, increase risk of diabetes and heart disease etc. and acids can soften enamel. Dairy products come with a plethora if potential health issues. Nuts have health benefits but also apparent health risks. Coniferous vegetables in high amounts can cause constipation and bloating because they aren’t entirely digestible. Too much saturated fats from meats can harm us, but some is really good and meats are an awesome source of iron, vitamin D, fat and protein. Grains should be avoided because they have phytic acids, contribute to high blood sugar and poor oral health. Even brown rice is high in phytic acid.

    My head is going to explode, I swear. Seems like the only daily diet with little drawbacks would be chicken, eggs, peas and carrots… I think I would become anorexic :(

    It’s really tough to find out what to believe since there’s so many conflicting studies, misinformation and covering up of information, and I don’t doubt that a lot of things such as the push for whole grains, dairy products, tooth pastes etc. are more for economical means rather than health reasons.

  121. says

    Chris and all, have you heard of Nate’s Raw Harvest? Claim to be free of phytic acid. Just discovered these products at a local farmer’s market. I bought the pumpkin seeds, the soaked mixed nuts with cinnamon and cayenne, and the wow! bites. So far so good! http://www.natesrawharvest.com. Nate is a good guy. I talked to him briefly about his process and it sounds like he’s got it figured out.

  122. christie says

    is it normaL that everytime i eat nuts my knee become swoLLen?hope you wiLL answer my question,thanks and godbLess.

  123. Huvs says

    If i peel my soaked almonds before making almond milk am i free of worries re phytic acid in the milk? I ask this because although the milk might not be a problem since it is passed thru a sieve, i do dehydrate the pulp afterwards to make flour and if i did not peel the almonds first the pulp will have the skin and hence my flour would be problematic re phytic acid i suppose. Basically, does removing the skin make a difference since from what i understood that’s where the problem lies.

  124. Colin says

    The hysteria that surrounds phytic acid is a load of Chicken Little BS. It’s never been proven that eating nuts/seeds/legumes/grains in significant quantities causes and/or contributes to mineral deficiencies. In fact, quite the opposite has panned out. Vegans who eat these foods by the bucketload have low incidences of iron, zinc, magnesium deficiencies. (I’m not a vegan, fyi, but facts are facts)

  125. Leticia says

    Chris I use my Nutribullet every day for breakfast & I add 30 grams of raw nuts about 1/4 of a cup so does this process protect me from all these issues with nuts

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