Whole foods are great, organic whole foods are even better. The majority of whole foods are beneficial to eat raw because uncooked you receive the full range of nutritional value. When cooked the nutrient value can decrease, or in some rare cases (such as these 5 foods) certain specific nutrient values of the food can actually increase when cooked. We’ll be talking about a similar topic today, specifically which foods have what are known as antinutrients, and what these antinutrients do in the human body.
By knowing which foods contain antinutrients you can simply limit these foods. First, what is an antinutrient? an antinutrient is a a naturally-occurring substance in certain plants that interfere with absorption of other nutrients or they interfere with beneficial functioning of nutrients in the body. IN other words, antinutrients are compounds in whole food, healthy foods that actually limit the nutritional intake or interfere in a negative way. Antinutrients are compounds that are produced by the plants as part of their defense mechanism.
Foods on the antinutrient food list below in this article shouldn’t be avoided but instead eaten or prepared differently to offset or diminish these specific antinutrients causing the nutritional absorption issues.
Take a look at Dr. Axe’s informative graphic on 10 antinutrients, and how to avoid or reduce them.
Here are some specific examples:
I remember the first time I discovered antinutrients. I ate organic peanut butter every day for the most part and discovered that peanuts have phytic acid in them which block zinc and iron absorption. I was deficient in zinc at the time as many of the foods in my diet did not contain zinc (no meat, dairy which are rich in zinc) so eating a food such as peanut butter which harmed my zinc absorption when I was already deficient in it was not a good idea. Peanuts have other minerals, fats and proteins which are beneficial for health when organic but they also can be contaminated with mold. Peanuts are best not too often for these purposes, especially peanut butter.
Which 5 Food Groups Contain Antinutrients?
Contain oxalates which inhibit calcium and iron absorption. If you are deficient in either mineral, avoid spinach or cook it to reduce oxalate levels.
Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower contain antinutrients such as phytate which inhibit the bodies ability to absorb certain minerals. They may also be harmful to people that have certain thyroid conditions, such as an underactive thyroid, also known as hypothyroidism.
Contain solanine, an antinutrient that can cause toxicity but this group of foods should be worried about least as this is not absorbed well and excreted quite easily. In most cases this isn’t a huge issue but in large amounts it can be. Eggplant, tomatoes and peppers are foods in this category.
Beans & Grains Such As:
A variety of beans and grains are included on this list, including soy (which contains an antinutrient known as isoflavaones that mimics estrogen in the human body) that should be avoided completely for multiple reasons. Wheat, wheat germ and more. I recommend avoiding all gluten completely. Some beans and grains contain lectin and gluten both which can hit your gut twice as hard. This inhibits digestive enzyme activity, gluten then also disrupts the gut on top of that causing inflammation and mental fogginess.
Nuts & Seeds Such As:
Peanuts, almonds, brazil nuts, hazelnuts and more. Many nuts and seeds contain phytic acid (or other antinutrients) that can be avoided simply by soaking in water or sprouting these nuts. Google the specific nut or seed and find out whether it can be soaked or sprouted to remove the antinutrient before consumption.
Prioritizing Antinutrient Risk vs. Reward
Grains are the most risky. Some grains contain more than one antinutrient and are also very difficult to digest on top of that because of their structure. Beyond that cruciferous vegetables could be the second highest risk. By understanding that you can simply steam them to remove antinutrients you can get around this though. If you do have an underactive thyroid these foods are to be avoided though because the antinutrient will harm your thyroid gland further. Spinach you can also cook the oxalates out, so it’s not all that bad. Nuts and seeds you can soak or sprout to remove the antinutrients.
Most antinutrients aren’t as bad if you simply prepare food properly.With certain antinutrient laden grains being the exception.
4 Ways To Reduce Antinutrients From Food
Simply Soak, Sprout, Ferment Or Lightly Cook The Specific Antinutrient Foods To Remove The Antinutrients.
Spinach and cruciferous vegetables with light steaming/cooking can remove antinutrients. Certain seeds and nuts can be soaked or sprouted to remove antinutrients. Nightshade vegetables are in such low quantities for most people that it shouldn’t be an issue. You really just need to remove wheat, gluten and grains as best you can because these antinutrients stay and disrupt the gastrointestinal tract.
Most grains or hearty food of any kind can contain antinutrients. These foods although nutritious shouldn’t be a large portion, or even a consistent food in your diet. If you eat a nutritious foods daily but then also eat foods consistently with antinutrients unknown to you (until now) you’ll only make marginal gains and improvements in your health. Nutritional deficiencies that have been with you for years may simply be because you have antinutrient foods in your diet consistently. By removing them or preparing them differently you can reduce antinutrients that can sufficiently fix that nutritional deficiency over time. The goal is to eat smarter, prepare mindfully and eat to provide you energy, life and vitality, and most of these foods may be harming you if you are not preparing them correctly or eating them too often, or in too high quantity, or both.
If you have a leaky gut, candida or any other digestive issue your body will be affected in more of a negative way by antinutrients than someone who does not have a digestive issue. Make sure to avoid eating foods with antinutrients excessively and when you do eat foods with antinutrients do what you can to minimize the antinutrients such as cooking, sprouting, soaking or fermenting those foods.