So you have taken on a diet rich in legumes, veggies and all the good stuff, then you hear about antinutrients and throw your hands up in despair. Take heart, it’s not as bad as you think though.
Antinutrients are basically plant compounds that reduce the body’s ability to absorb essential nutrients. This means that contrary to everything you have heard, there is a down side to eating tons of vegetables and legumes. The most important antinutrients are phytate, tannins, protease inhibitors, calcium oxalate and lectins. So how on earth do you get this eating thing right then? Veggies are good, lot’s of them, but not really?
It turns out that the antinutrients thing is not an issue for most people. It can become problematic if someone is suffering malnutrition, which can happen with some of the more crazy diets. If someone bases their diets solely on grains and legumes it could be a problem too. The upshot is however, that if you are keeping your nutrients in balance, antinutrients won’t be presenting any problems.
Contrary to how the word ‘anti’ sounds, such anti nutrients are not all bad either. Tannins for example have some health benefits of their own. In order to ensure you get the right balance, just bear the following in mind:
Phytate (phytic acid), found in seeds, grains and legumes, reduces the absorption of minerals like iron, zinc, magnesium and calcium. Tannins and Lectins, found in veggies, can impact on the digestion of various nutrients. Protease inhibitors, found in plants, seeds, grains and legumes can inhibit protein digestion. Calcium oxalate can have an impact on the absorption of calcium.
Your best bet is to be armed with the information, and not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Use information on anti nutrients are part of striving for balance and you will give your body the care it deserves.