Phytic Acid

Phytic acid binds phosphorous into foods as a way of storing it. Phytase is an enzyme that breaks down phytic acid. It is found mainly in bran and the  coating of nuts and seeds. It is also found in soya. Phytic acid binds calcium, zinc and magnesium making them poorly absorbed. Thinking through why some people suffer a bloated abdomen after eating bread made me wonder if phytic acid and bran, not gluten, are making it indigestible. Reading through one of our favourite old cook books called Laurel’s Kitchen I found some comments on phytic acid. In essence if you allowing bread dough to rise at least twice not only improves the flavour but breaks down the phytic acid and makes the bread more comfortable on your digestion. The soft “pappy” bread that is fast proven is probably the cause of much discomfort. Try sour dough or stone baked or simply slowly make your own bread. Laurel pointed out that even in Denmark the government at the time provided starter dough for rye bread to ensure that phytic acid was broken down.

At one time wheat bran was added to horse feeds. Sadly many horses suffered severe colic. Changing the bran source to linseed (flax) remove the source of the colic. Horses “discovered” the benefits of linseed long before us. Even Ghandi said that the health of a nation improved with linseed.

Nuts and seeds are generally processed in some form before we see them. Cashew nuts are roasted in ovens fuelled by cashew nut oil. Peanuts are best eaten in peanut butter or lightly roasted. They are often regarded more as a vegetable in Africa.