Antinutrients: What are lectins, phytates, and more?
Svg Vector Icons : http://www.onlinewebfonts.com/icon icon_line_graph_m Created with Sketch. icon_rings_m Created with Sketch. icon_smartphone_m Created with Sketch. icon_smartphone_monline Created with Sketch. icon_fl_m Created with Sketch. icon_smartphone_monline Created with Sketch. icon_sf_m Created with Sketch. Store
Health Concerns
Do You Need A Heavy Metal Detox?

Are there really sneaky substances hiding in healthy foods that could be derailing your health efforts…

5 Early Warning Signs You Could Have an Autoimmune…

Are there really sneaky substances hiding in healthy foods that could be derailing your health efforts…

Do You Have A Hormone Imbalance? Here’s What To…

Are there really sneaky substances hiding in healthy foods that could be derailing your health efforts…

Optimization
What is MCT Oil And Do You Need It?

Are there really sneaky substances hiding in healthy foods that could be derailing your health efforts…

The Gene Mutation That Affects 40% of People

Are there really sneaky substances hiding in healthy foods that could be derailing your health efforts…

Are IV Drips Healthy? Everything You Need to Know.

Are there really sneaky substances hiding in healthy foods that could be derailing your health efforts…

Recipes & Nutrition
Here’s How to Decode What Your Food Cravings Are…

Are there really sneaky substances hiding in healthy foods that could be derailing your health efforts…

5 Most Common Nutrient Deficiencies Explained

Are there really sneaky substances hiding in healthy foods that could be derailing your health efforts…

The Best Plant-Based Restaurants in LA for Every Time…

Are there really sneaky substances hiding in healthy foods that could be derailing your health efforts…

News
Welcome to Parsley’s New NYC Center

Are there really sneaky substances hiding in healthy foods that could be derailing your health efforts…

What to Expect At Your First Parsley Health Visit

Are there really sneaky substances hiding in healthy foods that could be derailing your health efforts…

5 Essential Blood Tests You Need Every Year

Are there really sneaky substances hiding in healthy foods that could be derailing your health efforts…

Recipes & Nutrition

Lectins, Phytates, and the Real Deal with Antinutrients

June 28, 2019

Are there really sneaky substances hiding in healthy foods that could be derailing your health efforts and making you feel bad? Parsley Health investigates the role of antinutrients.

Antinutrients are compounds found in plants that are part of their chemical defense mechanism, in addition to more physical characteristics like the spines of a cactus or the hard outer shell of many nuts. These defenses help the plant avoid being attacked by animals, but can also pose problems for some humans when consumed. Read on for the real deal on antinutrients and find out if you should be worried about them or not.

How do antinutrients work?

Most antinutrients work in two ways: by either binding to important micronutrients to keep your body from absorbing them, or by inhibiting digestive enzymes from working to properly break food down. In some people, antinutrients can also cause inflammation in the digestive tract, which can even lead to systemic inflammation over time.

One type of antinutrient, oxalates, for example, bind to calcium and prevent it from being absorbed in the body. By contrast, excessive consumption of tannins can inactivate the enzymes in our body responsible for breaking down and absorbing proteins.

Benefits of antinutrients

Antinutrients themselves aren’t all bad though—polyphenols have widespread beneficial effects including reducing inflammation and free radicals. Studies have found they can have antidepressant-like activities in the brain and prevent allergies. Phytates have also been linked with improving blood glucose and lipids and may have anti-cancer properties.

Foods high in lectins, phytates, oxalates, and other antinutrients

The most common types of antinutrients are gluten, phytates, tannins, lectins, and oxalates. Gluten is found in wheat and rye products, and can be found in everything from baked goods to beer and soy sauce. Phytates are commonly found is nuts, seeds, and whole grains. You may be familiar with tannins, which are often associated with red wine, but are also found in tea, unripened fruits, legumes, and chocolate. Lectins are often found in legumes, as well as a class of plants called nightshades, which include peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, and white potatoes. Oxalates are often found in raw, cruciferous vegetables like kale and broccoli, as well as spinach, soybeans, black pepper, and chocolate.

nightshade vegetables with lectins

Health concerns of gluten, lectins, and antinutrients

Some people are more sensitive to antinutrients than others. Sensitivities to gluten, for instance, are more prevalent in the population, with some sources estimating they affect nearly 20 percent of Americans. (But not all gluten sensitivities are related to gluten’s role as an antinutrient, making it different than other antinutrients like lectins and oxalates.)

Other people may be more susceptible to the effects of antinutrients as a result of their diet. Following a raw or vegan diet, which relies more heavily on types of foods and preparations that introduce excessive antinutrients into the body, could put you at a greater risk for adverse reactions to antinutrients over time.

If you have symptoms after every meal, start by looking at your diet. An elimination diet, in which you remove certain foods from your diet and reintroduce them at a later date can help you to identify which foods you are sensitive to and if there is a correlation between your symptoms and food high in antinutrients.

Want a doctor who can help you decode your diet? Sign up for a free 15-minute call to find out how Parsley Health combines nutrition and lifestyle changes to optimize your health

Symptoms of antinutrient overload

If you’re chronically eating high amounts of foods containing antinutrients, you may experience one or more of these symptoms.

Tips for preparing foods with antinutrients

They key to safely enjoying antinutrient-containing foods is preparation. Soaking, sprouting, steaming, sautéing, and even fermenting certain foods can significantly reduce their antinutrient content while enhancing the absorption of some beneficial nutrients in the body.

Antinutrients in beans, often an important staple of vegan or vegetarian diets, can be reduced through soaking and boiling, which also significantly improves their nutritional value. If you’re particularly sensitive to antinutrients, adding one extra step to preparation may allow you to more comfortably enjoy certain food; soak fully cooked foods in a final fresh water bath with a splash of lemon or vinegar to further reduce their antinutrient content.

Soaking and sprouting grains, nuts, seeds, and beans is an excellent way to deactivate enzyme inhibitors and boost nutrients. The nutritional profile of sprouted foods is sometimes even greater than their fully cooked counterparts, making sprouting an excellent choice for groups more susceptible to antinutrients, like adherents of raw food diets.

It is important to be mindful of the fact that some antinutrients simply cannot be destroyed through preparation; the lectins in peanuts, for example, are not destroyed through soaking or heating. Many foods, however, can be safely enjoyed and greatly enhanced through careful and proper preparation.

Want timely, science-based information weekly? Sign up for our newsletter.

Takeaways on lectins, phytates, and other antinutrients

  • Many foods that contain antinutrients also contain many beneficial micronutrients.
  • Not everyone will have a reaction to foods high in antinutrients.
  • When carefully prepared, many foods can be eaten safely with limited concern for antinutrients.
  • You know your body best, and if you’re repeatedly suffering from digestive issues after eating certain foods, antinutrients could be the culprit.
  • Exploring these issues with a health care provider can help shed some light on the answers.

Parsley Health is the only medical practice that leverages personalized testing with whole body treatments.

More Food & Nutrition

Food & Nutrition
What is Mindful Eating Again? Do I Need to Be Doing It?

  Mindful eating is a phrase that gets thrown around quite a bit, especially when it…

Food & Nutrition
The Healthy Twix Bar Recipe Our Health Coach Loves

Craving candy, but don’t want the chemicals, added sugar, and artificial flavors that come with it?…

Recipes
Parsley’s Ultimate Protein Powder Smoothie 3 Ways

Ok, smoothie lovers.  It’s time to take your morning shake to the next level by adding…

Food & Nutrition
13 Genius Tips for Eating Healthy on A Budget

Cleaning up your diet? There is a misconception that eating healthy is expensive, but there are…

Find out if Parsley is perfect for you. Schedule a free call with one of our health care advisors.