Another Reason You Shouldn't Go Nuts on Nuts | Chris Kresser
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Another Reason You Shouldn’t Go Nuts on Nuts

by Chris Kresser

Last updated on

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.]

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.


Join the conversation

  1. Yes! Thank you! I finally figured out that raw nuts make me constipated. So do beans as well as raw veggies with lots of insoluble fiber aka roughage.

    This article is probably why. So maybe I can eat the rest of the nuts I have and not be miserable if I soak and roast them.

  2. Again Chris is misinforming the public. soaked and sprouted nuts are extremely healthy and easier to digest

  3. I like to consume chia seeds because of their fiber (would like to move toward a paleo fiber consumption). Is there a way to soak chia seeds then let them dry out in a dehydrator before grinding and hydrating to drink? How sensitive are the oils in the seeds to low heat drying?

    Just curious if you knew anyone that had tried this approach.

  4. “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.”

    This confuses me because grains are the basis of long lived civilizations. The blue zones don’t seem to reflect your comments. What societies eating beans and whole grains, or I guess plant based diets for the most part have rickets and osteoporosis?

    • I think it’s a mistake to eliminate such large food groups like grains, nuts, legumes, etc. Why not opt for moderation? If you read as many health-related articles as I do, pretty soon there won’t be much of anything left to eat. It’s good to be aware of the downside to certain foods, so you don’t over consume them.

  5. Question: I’ve recently realised personal digestive issues due to normal plain ‘milk’ chocolate that I have been eating just after dinner. Presumably the phytic acid within the chocolate knocks all the nutrients out of this main meal and also leaves undigested food as problematic in the intestines (fuel for bad bacteria). These negative digestive and health issues last for at least three days after consumption.

    I recently tried 70% cocoa chocolate and only had a couple of portions (2 x 25 grams) just after dinner. Same issue with the negative symptoms lasting a few days.

    Question: would 85% cocoa be better or worse? I assume the more cocoa, the more phytic acid. Additionally, does it then also need to be consumed a couple of hours away from a meal (so that the phytates don’t interfere with the nutrients in that meal)?

    Thanks in advance,
    Barry (ready to give up chocolate completely)

  6. According to the latest research , this article regarding negatives of phytates is in error. Type in phytates at the non commercial site with Dr. Micheal Gregor and his 14 researchers for detail explaination of how body recycles phytates because of phytates benifits

  7. As my mother used to tell me ‘moderation in all things’ and that includes nuts.I doubt there is one single thing we ingest which does not have something harmfull in it (save water) but perhaps the deadliest sin,gluttony(with sloth following close behind) is the one we should watch out for.If it’s more than will fit in your hand it’s too much.

    • exactly…..what the heck is left to eat…..I fill up on nuts replacing carbs…but the lectin in nuts will mess me up?……

  8. GIVE ME A BREAK .. OK, so lets break it down
    Meat based diets are “proven” to be bad
    Green veggies need to be cooked or they are “Bad”
    Nut and seeds are “BAD”
    ……………………………. everything we eat is bad … I guess we can’t eat at all .. Next article title will be

    • Wow, I feel the same way — the more I read, the more things I can’t eat — it’s so confusing. I need a nutritional biology degree, and even that probably won’t tell me everything that I need to know.

  9. Valuable analysis ! I loved the details , Does anyone know if my business could locate a fillable Freddie Mac / Fannie Mae 710 form to complete ?

  10. WOW ONE of the worst advice ever! Please do not cook your nuts, just don’t do it. Polyunsaturates are very prone to oxidation! When these fats react with oxygen during heat cooking they form toxic byproducts and go rancid. You may end up with oxidized LDL which is bad for your arteries! Please if you really like nuts just eat them was/naturally.

    • just eat the raw phytic acid eh, good advice, research tradition, they didnt just ferment boil cook soak roast etc for fun, nor did they listen to some greedy hillbilly

      • I’ve been reading this blog for quite a while, and you are the first person to use name calling in your reply. Shame on you.

  11. This is irresponsible fragmented thinking. When is every so called “expert” going to realize that making claims like IP-6 aka “phytate” is bad or good? Is it more likely it has numerous benefits and also likely some drawbacks?

    I own a genetic testing company, and can empirically prove, that this one size fits all mentality is dangerous, and irresponsible.

    I respect the free exchange of ideas, but, this is fear mongering plain and simple.

    When ANYONE can prove they have the answer for everyone, the, and only then, can they speak other than based on fragmented thinking.

    People, WAKE UP!!!

    • Thanks, Jeff. It’s good to hear from a qualified professional!

      linkedin [dot] com/in/jeffrey-gilison-39232057

      Jenetics, LLC
      January 2013 – Present (3 years 2 months)
      Offers a key to personalized health: Genetic (DNA) testing that helps patients, doctors, and nutritionists to determine the right path based on known clinical genetic factors offering patients truly personalized medicine. We have over 6 new proprietary tests and many more coming to the market. We take pride in innovation and thinking outside the box to solve issues.

      We know that the one size fits all approach to health is absurd and proven to be dangerous. This business has been founded based on my own personal health journey. My goal is to achieve better health through actionable information!!! Affordability, convenience, and clear reporting is essential to effective use of genetic information and testing.

      COO, Sales Manager
      Keepers Unlimited, Inc
      January 1997 – Present (19 years 2 months)
      Active wholesaler of unique high end sports memorabilia to the largest auction houses, trading card companies, and other niche markets.

      Sales Manager
      Mobile Homes Central
      January 2001 – January 2004 (3 years 1 month)
      With this company I had some unique opportunities to help individuals correct their past credit issues and also worked in conjunction with both banks as well as direct private lenders to help put mutually beneficial deals together between the lenders and the consumer. I had a sales force of 20 plus other individuals that I supervised as well as being involved with the executive issues and decisions that were made.

      Sales Manager /CEO
      Wholesale/Manufacturing – Gilison Knitwear, Inc
      January 1993 – January 2001 (8 years 1 month)
      then VP, and for the 3 final years I became President of the company. Here I learned to handle the marketing, sales, and production for a triple A Dunn & Bradstreet rated company. The company had over 100 employees and over a dozen sales reps whom all eventually were directed by me. I gained invaluable experience in so many facets including sales to every major retailer around the globe including Walmart, Target, Kmart, Sears, Saks Inc., Federated Stores (Macy’s), as well as making private label goods for Major Brands such as Philips Van Heusen ( Izod, Arrow, Calvin Klein, Van Heusen, and others) , Tommy Hilfiger, and dozens of other large brand names. I became proficient at micro-managing, target marketing, product development from concept right thru to production ( QC-quality control, EDI-electronic data invoicing, raw materials purchasing, customs, controlling overseas production utilizing an agent primarily importing from China). Domestic production was handled in the Long Island factory and we also had a midtown sales showroom in Manhattan.

    • Yes now the genetic analysis companies are getting in on the fear mongering as well….. “get tested or else you are not sure of how to nourish ourselves. Just a different angle, and marketing to build a profit. Don’t let yourself get too high and mighty

    • just eat the raw phytic acid eh, good advice, research tradition, they didnt just ferment boil cook soak roast etc for fun, nor did they listen to some greedy hillbilly

  12. I can’t say I believe this. If I were in the wild I’d be eating so many nuts per day it would be out of control. Grains I would not be eating. I think there is some research that needs to be done here.

    • nah, you wouldn’t, at best you’d sit under a tree cracking nts for 3days then 10 minutes to eat them, you would starve to death within a month unless you were a thief and stole meat dairy vegie and fruits from the locals, you don’t just walk into the wilderness eat nuts and expect to live, Oh you probably would then die do your research

  13. Eat all the nuts you want, seriously , what these sites should be saying is all our food is processed, contains added sugar in most everything we buy, stay away from anything processed but eat all you want that is pure and wholesome!!!

    • Nuts are not a processed food. This has been said for years, that nuts are not as healthy as one would think. This article also has footnotes added to each fact so that sources could be checked. I eat paleo, but I am on AIP, which is much more paleo than the Americanized “paleo” diet, which I see many eat that isn’t really paleo at all. We have so many great fruits and vegetables. But if you must eat nuts, lower physic acid by using one of the processes stated above.

      • So then what is healthy .. they have said for years that meat has been linked to cancer …
        Kale along with many other greens supposedly have toxins if not cooked ..
        Now nuts and seeds .. Like come on already …
        SO WHAT IS HEALTHY .. I believe there is a lot of disinformation designed to confuse people .. because no matter what direction we take to improve our health, somebody always comes around saying .. “Don’t eat that, it’s bad” .. so what gives .. I say eat what we want since EVERYTHING is supposedly bad in some way or another

        • Healthy, is listening to your own body, carefully observing even the slightest reactions, and adjusting your diet and routine accordingly. No one should just listen to all research and claims, with no personal proof or at least damn solid inclinations.

          My body definitely reacts to nuts in a negative way. So research (/opinions) like this, may make sense for MY BODY.

          People need to remember that everyone has a unique genetic makeup and a body that reacts differently to all foods and life habits. Therefore, there is nothing wrong with this explained theory, except that most people reading it are either gullible or obsessed.

          • I agree. I am starting to think my body does not like nuts/seeds. However, it’s easy to snack on them and keep going back, then not realise just how many you have consumed! Listen to your body, work out what it likes and does not like and do so in moderation. Read up on-line and take a measured view – no knee jerk reactions, just a common sense approach. Having eaten Paleo in the past, I’ve never felt better but it’s hard to put into practice when leading a busy life. Having been Gluten Free for almost two years, it definitely helps but I’m not 100% there yet!

    • Why should they if it isn’t drilled in enough I think people need to be aware about how our food works. In this case it doesn’t mean you should cut it out but have it at a time where youre not having much of anything else as it won’t effect what there isn’t there to absorb

    • crap, culture and tradition say the opposite, they didn’t ferment germinate soak boil roast denature for nothing, science today confirm the wisdom of old, todays jenetiks is profit without wisdom

  14. Hi,
    I recently (today) found out I’m allergic to almonds via scratch test. However, being on the GAPS diet, I’ve been consuming almond milk, almond flour, and making granola with almonds. I make everything with almonds I’ve soaked and dehydrated and I’m curious if the allergy is to the nut or the phytic acid in the nut. My doctor had no idea so I was hoping someone could shed some light as to what typically causes a nut allergy.
    Thank you!

    • Hello Katie,
      I would think it’s the protein in the almonds you are allergic to. People are generally not allergic to phytic acid.

      Since you are on the GAPS Diet, maybe this “allergy” is not permanent. Once you rebalance your gut, you might be able to tolerate foods you were not able to tolerate before. 🙂

    • wata dopey question, your dr is an idiot obviously and you no good with maths and so much for your scratch test, shish i allergic to almonds i need almond milk butter powder musli, if you had an allergy it would be impossible to live on almond as you do, but why would you want to almond milk butter toast, are you nuts and you allergic, more like a mental disorder that will develop into an eating disorder. Avoid every bit of advice from a vegan, they are predators and in order to deal with their life destroying dilimma, they paint a pretty picture and push their deadly doctrine, it makes them feel better watching another suffer in denial, avoid them, they are a deadly plague especiall when they mingle it in occultish religion and new age sda rasta essenes, by the way coconut like milk and honey is a gift from heaven, coconuts is natures breast milk and immunises in the same way, do your own research this author is misinforming you

  15. Hi guys!

    Important to note – the nuts *could* effect your bodies’ ability to absorb the nutrients that are included in the meal you consume at the same time as the nuts.

    So let’s say your metabolism is normal, and your nuts are digested in about 45 minutes (This varies greatly depending on your gut health and metabolism). If you eat a handful of nuts at 10am, the food you eat for lunch is unaffected by the nuts you ate in the morning.

    When presenting a world wide audience with information that suggests we ought to limit intake of an extremely healthy food, it is only ethical to include ALL of the relevant information.

    Keep eating nuts, guys, just watch your food combining, that’s all!!

    • food combining, eating is a pleasure a simple pleasure, dont complicate it or destroy the simple of others, icecream chocolate and cushed nuts mmm,

  16. What is healthy then?

    Seeds & nuts = unhealthy
    Fish = Full of mercury and other shit
    Meat = Cancer and heart attacks

    Guess I should just eat rice.

    • The only foods that we are biologically designed to eat and cause no issues are fully ripe raw fruit and tender leafy greens like lettuce.

      • Some digestive issues will cause some people to have to moderate the fruits, esp those with small seeds (as will diabetes). Isolating on veggies and fruits may leave you struggling for some nutrients. Balance is key (or lack of it.) I am on something like the Atkins diet, which is unbalanced by many measures (certainly I eat almost no sugar or grain & very little fruit.) I eat a ton of spinach, a fair amount of other veggies, some nuts, and a variety of meats. Once I hit my target weight I plan to fit in a modest portion of dairy and fruit. The nuts seem to be reducing my blood pressure, since I added them later, fwif, but it’s not like I did any kind of controlled study.

      • Every body is unique. Take into account your bio-individuality and find a diet that works best for you. As much as I advocate for pale and believe in its power, I also think there is a place for a few well prepared grains, bean, and nuts. The amount is dependent on the integrity and health of your GI tract.

    • Modern research has dispelled the rumor that meat causes cancer and heart attacks, but rather it’s the refined sugar (like cheap high fructose corn syrup in all processed foods) and phytosterols that causes atherosclerosis and cancer.

      Animal fat and cholesterol has been wrongly demonized by mass media and public-know-it-all’s for the past 50 years. If you dig deeper, you’ll find that the majority of cancer and heart disease patients consume high-sugar diets.

      There was even a case of a 40 year old vegan that died of a heart attack, a person that’s been a vegan their entire lives dying of a heart attack? That’s insane, right?

      I’ve cured my own disease on so many levels by switching from my SAD (standard American diet) to, at first, a paleo diet, but I even went further and discovered the Art and Science of Nutritional Ketosis. This may be personal anecdotal evidence, but I used to have frequent gout attacks (at least 5-6 per month), even when I was eating a paleo diet. I stopped eating grains like rice (and I’m Asian too, I grew up eating this stuff, but I have to give it up to lose the bodyfat and lower inflammation).

      The first three months I ate paleo, I lost a ton of weight but I was still getting gout, I decided go completely keto for the last 3 months, not only did I lose 71 pounds and 25% bodyfat WITHOUT exercise, gout attacks became obsolete.

      You see, gout occurs when you have too much uric acid in your blood, they form tiny crystals in your blood acting like sharp razorblades and attack your joints. I’ve had a gout attack in every joint below my waste, so the pain was REAL. I cut out everything that contained phytic acid during those last three months of testing out the keto diet, that included fresh fruits and even veggies and ate only meat, butter, and drank distilled water. Boom, all inflammation GONE.

      • yes rasta and you look real mean with your fermenting mayne and a mouldy lettuce leaf in your mouth. Ganghi himself would call you a murderer and a deciever4 of india,

    • I don’t think meat itself is a problem, but unless it’s organic, it’s loaded w/ antibiotics, & compounds from grains & whatever else is feed to the animals, as well as preservatives. A good example is “processed meats”, which are full of nitrates & nitrites, which, according to the 2010 Presidental report, have been grossly underestimated to cause cancer.

    • yes polished processed rice, then bleach it, then add artificial rice flavor, then bulk it up with vitamin fortified shredded cardboard, add fish flavor, mmm fish soup n rice, or mold it and make deep fried fish finger mmm vegan fish finger

  17. I found that walnuts can really hurt your throat, cause mouth sores. Singers avoid them. I had sores a few weeks back, so cut down on the walnuts, then caught a cold, ate a few nuts during. I actually lost my voice, first time in my life, and I’m almost 60. I do drink soy, only in the a.m. in my iced coffee, but the walnuts have put me over the edge of acidity. Too bad, as I love them!! Heard it was only black walnuts that cause the problem, but not in my case. Have great hair, though!! (Paleo, allergic to wheat, dairy, eggs)

    • Consuming soy in any form is highly unadvisable. Even fermented soy should be approached with caution and only eaten with a completely healed gut and in the absence of an allergy.

      • I just spent the morning reading up on soy.
        There seems to be lots of fear mongering from the meat industry there. Be aware and do your reading.
        Here is a good breakdown by eden foods. Yes, they sell lots of soy, but seem pretty honest in their rebuttals to a lot of the soy fear mongering here. I found this rather reassuring that some good, clean soy is not a problem in moderation.

        • Soy, like many commercialized/monetized crops, has been genetically altered. That alone should be enough to scare us far, far away from such. When it comes to “food”, it’s not worth the risk to eat anything that has been ‘manipulated’ to be “better” for the sellers, at unknown risk to buyers.

        • Soy is high in Oxalates too. Plus, all that Glyphosate (main chemical in Roundup herbicde) is HIGH in oxalates too. Majority of Soy nowadays is heavily sprayed with Roundup AND just 3 days before harvest too. If you have the COMT gene mutation, which slows your estrogen metabolism, you will want to AVOID soy & other estrogenic foods.

          • Well, new studies are showing that GLYPHOSATE converts to Glyoxalates in the body. Apparently Monsanto recently researched adding Oxalate Acid to their seeds to kill the bugs. Oxalates can kill OUR good gut bacteria AND cause Leaky Gut too.

      • Consuming soy in any form is highly advisable provided it is fermented soy, go out of your way 4her seek her earnestly desire her, she should be eaten to aid healing guts and introduce friendly healing bacterior, beautiful she is, lika sweet maiden who doesit all and she digests the food for you, put your foot up relax and rest your gut while she eats away making you feel all good inside, fermenting away converting harsh sugars into delicate sweet energies, she salt and sugar are mother natures finest preservative, they work together and convert rich mineral salts into life sustaining transporters… eat her up, she’ll touch your sides gently as she goes down on the inside, its like having a loving protecting angel caressing you all over the internal organ, the seat of your emotions is where she sits enthroned like a QUEEN waiting 4aking in some cases aching so treat her right

  18. Chris,

    I got lazy a couple years into going totally Paleo and started consuming (apparently) WAAAY too many nuts… Lara bars with almond milk for breakfast or muffins/breads made with almond flour, cashew and almonds as a snack, Justin’s Maple Almond butter (LOVE) by the spoonful, etc… I started breaking out with the worst acne I have ever had in my life… it took me a LONG time to figure out it was the nuts, but once I completely eliminated ALL nuts from my diet I have not had a break out in over a year! My question is… do you think I will EVER be able to have nuts again? Have you ever heard of someone becoming allergic to nuts at the age of 46? In the past year I have found even if I have a speck of a nut I will break out.
    thank you,
    missing nuts :o(

    • I developed some huge skin cancers on my face a few years ago that required reconstructive surgery. I was given antibiotics and frightened into taking them after the procedure. Within 2 weeks I had developed a huge nut intolerance (they were my favourite food before this!). Even soaking and roasting them made no difference and I would be scratching madly with huge hives for days after eating them. Not long after I developed a seed intolerance (my second favourite food) which made my hives even worse. I researched the issue and found many people like me who had taken antibiotics then developed intolerances. So something in my gut had to be the problem. Long story short, I started the SCD, avoided nuts and seeds and found that not only did my hives go but my eyesight improved (I was scheduled for a cataract op), the nodules on my thyroid reduced significantly and I felt clearer and sharper than I had in years. I now tell people that eating changed my life – eating the right and not the wrong foods!!

      • Best thing to do after antibiotic use is to take a month or three of refrigerated broad-spectrum probiotic pills from the health food store. Get back the good guys that were killed off, and there’s just not enough of them in fermented foods to do it at first.

      • That’s amazing!!! I’m happy you took matter into your own hands. Based on my journey back to health I have to say food is healing and depending what stated of health I am then I have to change my diet accordingly. I honestly believe we are not meant to stick to one diet
        As my father always said, “listen to your body. If it’s craving a certain something or doesn’t want to eat it… then it’s due to a reason. It tells you what you need and don’t need.”

  19. I guess I’m torn as I was doing meat veg only diet for years with digestive enzymes all the time. I have had nothing but increased reflux and weight gain with it. I recently added seed butters to replace meat. It feels much better on my stomach and head but am nervous about the fat content and seeds being hard to digest. Sometimes I wish I had less gut issues and could just eat easier.

    • Check out these books for ideas: The Acid Reflux Solution by Jorge Rodriguez (I think) and Dropping Acid by Dr. Jaime Koffman. True life-savers!

  20. I just want to thank Chris for this article. I am a 60-year-old man who is struggling to heal leaky gut. Recently I had a bone scan that revealed osteoporosis. Right now I am “correctly” doing an elimination diet for the first time in my life. I have always relied heavily on nuts and their butters while attempting to restrict my diet in other ways. This phytate problem with the nuts could be part of my osteoporosis puzzle.

    • osteo is complex.. I could take a guess that possibly the restriction in your diet in ‘other ways’ is more to do with it, as well as genetics, as well as being underweight, (if you are) or thin, as well as not getting enough sunlight vitamin D, as well as not getting enough magnesium and potassium as well as not getting enough weight bearing exercise as well as not eating enough greens…. I doubt nuts will be the cause. hit the gym, get some sunlight or take some D, eat lots of white vegetables for potassium and get some muscle resistance training… don’t drink soft drinks…carbonated waters…sugar… BTW I eat a ton of nuts every week have no problem, they are my staple food, not for any other reason except i like eating them.

    • I bought raw cashews two days ago and have been soaking them. They have now sprouted. I think if I roast them I might lose the benefits provided by the sprout. Confusing for me.

    • If you really want to feel and taste the difference between raw and sprouted nuts try eating the 2 side by side. The sprouted nut (after dehydration)is lighter and very flavorful. BTW- we buy sprouted nuts from as they are certified organic and have the best all around prices.

    • Can anyone explain why nuts need to be soaked if I am going to put them in a blender ( for almond milk)? It seems like breaking down the walls of the nuts would suffice to allow more nutrient absorption, but from my research, it appears most people still soak before blending. I would appreciate any feedback.


      • I think this was addressed in the article. Soaking beforehand and gives enough time to activate the nuts, ready for sprouting as they naturally would before growing; in this process the phytates (which protect the nuts before they reach ideal growing conditions) are at least partially released into the soaking water. So after soaking, discard this water and rinse the nuts. As a bonus they’ll whizz into nut milk even easier :). The article mentioned that dehydrating then roasting might also get rid of further phytic acid. Also, as most of the protective phytates are found in the outer skin of the nut, then blanching or buying pre-blanched almonds would help, too 🙂

  21. When I was vegan, my diet staple were almonds (I would take down a pound in a sitting) and I did fine. But I can understand why they may cause issues, I don’t digest them as well as I used to. I am on the semi paleo diet (my body just can’t handle meat) and I may consider insects as an alternative food source to nuts and meat. I may have to raise them myself!

    • did you make a full recovery or do you still suffer eating disorders and pycological food combining disorder a full recovry means you enjoy eating something deliciouus
      no one recovers, or its rare, gandhi would have gone mental but for his commitment to higher priorities, just the same he suffered but he free now

  22. I think we are all panicking for nothing because if eating nuts only prevents the mineral absorption in the Nuts themselves we can just get iron from other foods like spinach etc or how about just taking a gentle iron and mg supplement? Of course I usually soak nuts but some don’t take too soaking. Their taste changes and if u soak more than u need they mold.

    • Hello Huvs,
      It’s possible the phytic acid in nuts and seeds chelates minerals in the other foods you consume at the same time. The food consumed during a meal combines with gastric acid into a substance called chyme, so I’m guessing the phytic acid could bind up minerals from other foods. I believe following the example of traditional cultures is best in this case.

      • Andrew Chin, you said it all simply and in its entirety. To add anything to that would complicate the truth and earn you money
        absolutely perfect.

  23. what a bunch of Scare mongering BS.

    your body can handle these substances naturally.

    seriously, you can find on the internet any argument you are looking for. I searched for toxic level nuts and sure enough there is an article for that. like this one.

    do a search on the toxic level of breathing air. sure enough you will find one. the internet is a scourge to human knowledge.

    • Let’s hope you never get any disorder which makes you search for an answer, because most docs certainly don’t have any real answers 90% of the time.

      • Sad to say, but that 90% estimate seems about right. Getting the details right in my diet has solved far more than any conventional doctor.

        • Hi, I am also searching for answers as doctors cannot help me. I have got rid of life-long eczema almost completely through diet and acupuncture. Would you please be so kind as to give me some more tips of what you do to keep healthy? Thank you

          • Hi Jo,
            I have a very bad eczema on my face, my neck and my arms. I have tried everything i came across, but it always goes away for a few days, and then it comes back even worse. I’m not using steroids anymore, but as a child, I used them a lot. would you please share with me what helped you get rid of your eczema? I would greatly appreciate it.
            Thank You, Iveta

            • Hi Iveta,
              My understanding (after many, many years of research and seeing many therapists and healers), is that eczema is a body’s way of telling you it is not managing to cleanse the normal way (liver, kidneys…) I used to suffer terribly and like you, used a LOT of steroid creams as a child and as an adult. There were number of things that helped me. First one was sorting myself emotionally. I understand that it is not everybody’s cup of tea, but I have been fortunate to meet two incredible healers that help me tremendously (childhood traumas and such) but I also did a lot of work myself. Read loads of books and did my best to put the advice I found into practise. Second thing that helped me a lot was to find out what my body did not like me to eat. For me the main culprits were gluten, dairy and sugar. But everybody’s body is different. I also addressed candida in my body. I started drinking home made kefir, which is an amazing super food!. After these two things, my skin calmed down considerably, but I still got a lot of eczema. The last thing that got my skin clear for the first time since I was two, was an amazing acupuncturist. He first needed to get the steroids out of my liver (the body cannot deal with them properly, so it stores them, making it harder for the liver to work). That was a horrible process I would not want to go through again, but was so, so worth it. Hope you find this a little useful and I will keep my fingers crossed for you!! Wishing you all the best.

              • I would love to get the name of the acupuncturist. Since my round of chemo and radiation treatment, the toxins from my liver never was addressed and now I am playing catch up with gut digestive issues. Please send the name of the acupuncturist and I live in the bay area. Thanks

            • Hi Iveta,

              My husband, who suffered with terrible ekzema for twenty years got clear skin after he went on a two week green smoothie cleanse. He maintains healthy skin now by consuming green smoothie every morning and avoiding dairy and flour as much as possible. Hope this helps.

              • yop. cuz the greens killed the worms which gave him teh exzema.

                Crushed cloves — daily half teaspoon. good preventative. Mechanically makes round worm eggs not-viable.

            • My friend used a natural lotion and mixed in colloidal silver and his legs cleared up in days. He had had it for years.

    • If you feel good after eating nuts, you are probably not eating too many. Simple. Many people are allergic or sensitive to them, especially pea’nuts’ which aren’t really nuts.If you have any symptoms, eliminate nuts for a while and see what happens. Too bad about cocoa, but I definitely get symptoms after consuming it. Better to eat real chocolate in small amounts. Also, if you find yourself eating tons of nuts, you are probably not eating enough of the more healthy foods in the Paleo diet.

    • JJ, I hope you don’t spend much time looking for examples of wrong answers to serious questions. Searching the internet for misinformation, mistakes, or poorly understood science always yields an abundance of results. Good answers are often harder to come by, but they won’t help you sneer at all the people you think of as suckers or feel like you’re actually debunking something.

  24. I wonder if this apply if i eat them at separate times if that the case then is still a good snack by itself since the phytic acid would not have any negative effect

    • Hello Dmitri,
      If you eat nuts by itself, it wouldn’t bind up minerals from other foods, but it would likely bind up the minerals in the nuts itself. Nuts and seeds tend to be high in the minerals bound up by phytic acid, like magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, iron and zinc.

    • Hello Phil,
      Most nut butters are not sprouted, so they likely contain quite a bit of phytic acid.

      Truly raw nut butters likely have the most. Most people consider raw products to be processed at 118 degrees or less, but this is not regulated, so most of the so-called raw nut butters might be processed at slightly higher temperatures.

      Maranatha advertises some of their nut butters as “raw”, but they use a grinding temperature of 260 degrees. Some nutrition is destroyed, but at this temperature more of the phytic acid is probably destroyed as well.

      Roasted nut butters are likely even lower in phytic acid, i.e., roasted peanut butter or almond butter.

      The soaked and sprouted nut butters could be the lowest in phytic acid. The two brands making these kinds of nut butters are Gopal’s and Blue Mountain Organics.

      The one exception would be coconut butter. Coconut has phytic acid, but mainly in the form of a salt, i.e., sodium phytate, potassium phytate, etc. Phytic acid salt, aka phytate, does not have the chelating power of free phytic acid.

      This is hands-down the best article on phytic acid I’ve found:


  25. Fascinating stuff, all this about phytates. I have been evolving my diet backwards to a more Paleo regime and certainly feel the benefits.

    When I started reading these comments it was on the back of the quantities of phytates in nuts so I would like to add my penny worth. It seems beyond doubt that neutralising the phytates by some sort of ‘processing’ makes the nuts more nutritionally sound. Now I admit to not having read all the 300-odd posts but apart from the soaking and roasting methods, nobody seems to have mentioned fermenting.

    Natural fermentation or placing grains in an acidic environment is said to neutralise most of the phytates before consumption. Also using buckwheat flour in the mix is said to do the same which is why soda bread has far fewer phytates than commercial bread. Now I’m not advocating eating bread but I am pointing at the same principles for preparing nuts.

    What I do is, using a ‘magic bullet’ grind a handful of Brazils, almonds and macadamia nuts in the bullet and add them to a strained kefir milk (that has brewed for 24 hours), leave it to ferment for another 24 hours. I also have oat flakes, buckwheat flour and a teaspoon of nigella seed (really worth looking at these seeds) in the mix.

    After 24 hours I blitz the whole lot in a smoothie containing blueberries, strawberries, pineapple and banana. My wife and I share this ‘supersmoothie’ every morning

    Now I know that most of the posts on here are anecdotal recommendations, and mine is no different, but since I started to use the fermentation method of preparing nuts and oats (oats is the only grain I eat, now) we have no hunger gaps, carb dips and definitely no belly grips or heavy feeling. Digestion is smooth and pleasant and our sustained energy levels are greatly improved.

    I would be interest to hear if anyone else has tried this method of preparation.

  26. To answer the question:

    “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.”


    Sprouting nuts, seeds, legumes and grains neutralizes phytic acid very effectively. It also neutralizes enzyme inhibitors.

  27. 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

      • unfortunately nutri bullet has got nothing to do with that-it just makes everything into a liquid form. For phytic acid to be neutralised a special preparation is needed before – like soaking and roasting – which still doesn’t get rid of all phytic acid – some people peel the nuts as that acid is mostly present in the skin. hopefully it helps.

  28. 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)

    • I’m sure they can and do get Minerals from other things besides nuts/seeds/legumes/grains.
      As a former Raw Vegan I can tell you: from eating raw un-soaked nuts – very often, that it really does tax ones’ digestive system, it’s an unnecessary load that really is counter productive to ones health in certain respects.
      I’ve never felt or have seen the effects of myself age so quick from all the excess work my body (digestive system) has had to do by eating Raw foods. This is one of those “Respects”.

      It’s just unnecessary work for our bodies to have to do to be able to sustain itself, hence it being counter productive.
      Think about it for a moment, babies don’t eat solid foods (for many reasons too), and then after living off of Mothers Milk they’re weaned onto Baby Foods.
      All I want to stress is that regardless of ones diet, whether; Raw, Semi-Raw, Paleo, Vegetarian, Vegan, or whatever – Raw Vegan or not, we’re all going to age alike unfortunately.The human body will eventually loose the battle of regeneration and repair, it will never be able to get ahead and stay there.

      I strongly believe (just my perspective) that the more ‘Work’ the human body has to do in order to get what it needs out of that work to only be able to use that/continue working, is a closed cycle and is finite. We’re all numbered.

      I think that soaking nuts is a prime idea, if only to take from the work our digestive system has to do assimilating that damn matter.

      • Sorry but much of what you said is hot air. No evidence or proof to back your claims. Especially the spiel about why and how we age.

      • Certainty regarding nutrition is an indication that you know a lot less than you think. I would suggest an additional piece of information you might find useful, however. Eating raw veggies exposes you to a type of fiber that needs heat to break down. I can eat about half my veggies raw, but if I eat 100% raw I get all sorts of gas and nasty cramps. This seems to be true for most (maybe not all) people – apparently our ancestors have been cooking veggies for tens of thousands of years (don’t quote me on that, it’s a throw-away line!). Anyways, as for nuts, I don’t know to what extent nuts may contribute to this issue, but I can eat quite a lot without any apparent ill effects.

  29. 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.

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

  31. 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! Nate is a good guy. I talked to him briefly about his process and it sounds like he’s got it figured out.

  32. 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.

    • Your not alone, there is a plethora of misinformation out there (intentional & unintentional) concerning the accuracy of what is best/proper & improper/inadequate/detrimental for our nutritional needs.

      Because this is the case, I find that one needs to ‘Generalize’ their way of deduction of information. What I mean is that “I find” it’s better to Not fixate too much or for too long on one or too many subjects – better not all at once either.

      I do a lot of forum ‘Hopping’, Wikipedia-ing, experimenting, and really it’s more often than not that I’ll still be left with more unanswered questions, more questions and more unsurety (is that a word?) at the length of my research.

      But, I do make progress all the while because, by having taken these measures to educate myself and on the matter I’ll have gotten a better idea, or ‘view’ of what & where it really is – for what it is (the reality what it is that I’m researching) in the whole of things, Nutrition & Health in this case.

      At first it’s as though I’ve entered a house but all the lights are off, the more I feel my way around the better I’m able to make out where all the furniture is, and so closer to that light switch I become.

    • You must be in my head! This is exactly what I’m thinking. It’s all very confusing and it seems about the time we think we have the health info. right it gets switched on us. IE, red meat and saturated fats are bad, nuts and grains are good. Now it’s all reversed. Makes me afraid to eat anything!

      • I agree with the confusion, in the end it seems that minimal processing is the way to go with food. I’ve found something that seems to work for me, and am losing weight finally with lo-carb (but for other people the solution will be something else entirely). I think we all have a unique reaction to foods, and the combination of foods along with our own body chemistry all play a role. My son needed a casein/gluten-free diet when young; when he turned 13 that all changed and he could eat anything at all, with no issues. I, on the other hand, developed an allergy to shampoo at age 13, it all gave me a rash. Sodium-laureth Sulfate was the common ingredient, though similar compounds were an issue too. I used plain soap to wash my hair for decades, until sulfate-free formulas came out, and I seem to be able to use those with no rash resulting.

    • I agree, food information is conflicting and thus confusing and overwhelming. It seems no two nutritionists agree. Very very frustrating. And because of this, I DO eat less and maybe even have more stress, just doubting if what I’m eating is good or bad for me. Grr!

      • The stress is very bad for you as well. You should probably just eat a balanced diet not too high in carbs, fat and salt, be happy, and hope for the best 🙂

        Just remember, its great to live in a place where you have so much choice and freedom that this is an actual problem (vs not having enough food).

    • Hmmmm. Well, to begin with, fruit has changed dramatically due to the hybridization of 10,000 years of selection for sweet and removal of bitter. Jo Robinson has an excellent book on how our food has changed with “farming,” and I found this to be very clarifying.
      We probably shouldn’t drink cow’s milk–Insulin Growth Factor takes a calf to a 600-pound cow in a year and that’s a hormone likely problematic.
      Grains, new. Legumes, new. Even almonds haven’t been around forever. I definitely have lower iron scores because I’m eating too many nuts, same for my husband. I’m going to soak for that reason. Fermentation and the microbiota environment (your guts) is the next frontier and keep your ears open. We can probably get away with a little bit more if we pay more attention to our guts….Please don’t explode. It really does make sense and with our individual peculiarities, you’ll figure yourself out.

    • I hear you on this. I am getting pretty darn annoyed trying to follow any special kind of diet – whether it was vegan and now paleo to improve my fatigue issues. I like trail mix and realized I have been eating a lot of it due to paleo and then I read this article and I wonder what I’m supposed to eat now. I finally went and bought myself what I used to snack on – sweet potato chips and felt much better for it. I think variety and balance is the thing – not all this restriction and fear of various foods. I can understand the whole grain thing to a point, but I am starting to think it’s neurotic and ridiculous to become a paleo nazi as well on some level, so I have some grains here and there. I didn’t up and throw out all my brown rice and quinoa (which now they say is not a grain?) I let myself have some here and there. I can’t go broke wondering what to eat on paleo and overdoing it on animal proteins. I am starting to feel that can’t be good for a person either. Balance and moderation is what I am thinking now.

    • LOL…I personally don’t worry too much…I eat about 150 grams of a processed mint milk chocolate bar each day and maybe 1 peanut butter sandwich on squishy Wonder each day as well…that’s about 1,300 calories right there…I’m very thin so I know I need the calories and I hardly eat meat at all…and meat is high in calories…I gave up meat entirely for about 10 years but I had more than 1 blood test that indicated my iron and hemoglobin was a bit low so I just recently started eating a bit of ground beef free from antibiotics…I always buy organic dairy products and organic grains (pasta, cereal)…I try somewhat, but like you, don’t want to just eat peas and carrots, LOL.

  33. 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.

  34. 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.

    • My grandmother ate like a bird on a relatively bad diet but it did include all the food groups. I think eating small amounts and walking all her life, moreso than genetics, is what caused her to live this long with relatively few health problems until she died – broken arm and then pneumonia.

  35. I have noticed that whenever something comes out as good for you at some point it is discredited in 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.

    • 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!

  36. 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.

  37. 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!

  38. 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.

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

  40. 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???

    • 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).

  41. 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.

  42. 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?

    • 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.

    • 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.

  43. 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?

    • 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.

  44. 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.

  45. 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?

  46. 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)

  47. 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.

  48. 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.

  49. 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.

  50. 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?

  51. 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!

    • Jill–I too find that now that I’ve cut sugar out and lowered carbs I have a nut addiction. I feel driven to eat them in large quantities and have that “can’t stop myself” feeling. I’ve always loved nuts, but this powerful craving is new and feels detrimental to my progress. I’m also wondering if there is something less “addictive” I can substitute for nuts.

  52. 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.

  53. 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.

    • 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:

  54. 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?

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

  55. 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. 🙂

  56. 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.

  57. 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.

  58. 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

  59. 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

  60. 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.

  61. 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.

  62. 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.)

    • 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?

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

  64. 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!

  65. 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

    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.

  66. 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!

  67. 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)?


  68. 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.

    • 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.

      • 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!

        • 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.”

          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.

  69. 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?

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

      • 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.

  70. 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…

  71. 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?

  72. I found this very thorough article:

    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!

  73. 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.

  74. 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

  75. 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

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

  77. 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.

  78. 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?

  79. 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.
    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

  80. 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]

    • 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!

  81. 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

  82. 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.

  83. 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.

    • 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.

  84. 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!

  85. 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.

    • 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.

  86. 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.

    • 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.

  87. 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)

  88. 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.

    • 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.

  89. 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.

  90. 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.

  91. 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:

    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

  92. The Blue Zone research is that eating 2 ounces of nuts 4-5 times per week increases longevity. (

    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.

    • 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!

  93. 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.

    • 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.

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

    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

  95. 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. 🙁

  96. 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

  97. 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)

  98. 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:

  99. You can get more information from the website 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.

  100. Chris,

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

  101. 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?

  102. 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?

  103. 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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

    • 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?

  104. 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?

  105. 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!).

  106. 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?

  107. 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.

  108. 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.

    • 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.

      • “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?

  109. 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:

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


    • 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.

  110. 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.


    • 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.

  111. Hi Chris,

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



  112. 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?

  113. 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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

  114. 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 😉

  115. 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?

  116. “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!

  117. 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.

  118. 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).

    • 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.

      • 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?

  119. 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!

      • 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 🙂

  120. 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!

    • 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.

  121. 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. (

    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.

    • 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?

    • 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!

  122. 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.

  123. 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.

  124. 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”.

    • 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).

    • 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!

  125. 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.

    • 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!

  126. 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.

  127. 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!

  128. 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?

  129. 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.

      • 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.

        • 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.

          • 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? 🙂

            • 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…

    • 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…???

  130. 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….

      • 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 😉

        • 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.

        • 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.

          • 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!

  131. 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!

  132. 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)

    • 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.

  133. 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!

    • 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.

  134. 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?

  135. 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.

    • 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…

    • 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 🙁

    • 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.

    • 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.

  136. 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.

  137. 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 (, 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?

    • 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.

  138. 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.

  139. 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!

  140. 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.

  141. 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…

      • 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.

        • 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.

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

  142. 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.

  143. 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?

      • 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?

        • 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.

  144. 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?

    • 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.

  145. 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)

  146. 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.

    • 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.

        • 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.

      • 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.

        • 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…

  147. 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.

  148. 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!!!


    • 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.

        • 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..

        • 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.

          • When I do eat corn, it’s the locally grown stuff in my area. Local farmers who cater to the community don’t use pesticides on their crops and always test the soil for toxins ( as well as for other nutrients; like any other plant based food, good soil provides good fruits and veggies of labor.)

    • 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!

  149. 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.

    • 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?!

      • 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.

      • 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!

  150. 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?

        • 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.

      • 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?

        • 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.

          • 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.

      • 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.

        • 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.

          • @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.

      • 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!

        • @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.

    • 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.

      • 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……

        • 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.

  151. 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?


    • 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

    • 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.

      • Do you have any sources for this? I would like to know if this statement is true, because in that case, nuts would be the perfect snack by itself since the phytic acid would not have any negative effect, so yeah eating nuts at separate times and alone sounds like a great idea. Eating grains and legumes at separate times would be still negative because the gluten.

    • 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.

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