Thursday, December 1

Phytates: reasons to include this antinutrient in our diet


Phytic acid is a substance present mainly in the skin of legumes, the shell of nuts and the bran of cerealss. It is a cyclic organic acid that contains six phosphorus atoms and a strong negative charge thanks to its hydroxide (OH) type radicals.

Antinutrients: what they are and how they affect your diet

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This characteristic gives it many functions in nature, mainly as a defense of the plants where it lives against the attacks of fungi and bacteria.

But it can also cause problems in the diet of people and animals, especially at very early ages, as is the case with babies under one year of age, for whom it is recommended that they not eat legumes or whole grains.

The reason is its important activity as an antinutrient, since phytic acid has a great capacity to bind to positive mineral ions such as those of iron, calcium, magnesium and zincblocking their absorption by the intestine and, therefore, preventing our body from using them.

It is also responsible for partial blockage of vitamin B3 or niacin, which helps the functioning of the digestive system, skin and nerves. It is also important for transforming food into energy. Fortunately sources of niacin are abundant in nature.

Despite all these nutritional drawbacks, phytic acid can be a factor in malnutrition in the Third World, where access to meat and other animal products is very limited and food is not overweight. it is based on a few plant products.

Virtues of phytates

However, phytic acid also has virtues thanks to its great antioxidant capacitydue to the aforementioned hydroxyl groups, which makes them interesting for a preventive diet.

In this sense, they are various scientific articles that point out the possible benefits of a diet rich in this acid in the face of prevent the colon cancer. In fact some studies have been done of application in the diet of whole grain cereals in mice and a decrease in colon cancer risk biomarkers was observed.

To separate the role of fiber from phytic acid in prevention, the same diet was applied with refined cereal supplemented with phytates and it was observed that the reduction of biomarkers was maintained.

On the other hand, along with their antioxidant action, phytates may also have a preventive action of kidney stoness, especially when it occurs in the intake of food lin the presence of oxalic acidcoming from the green leaves of vegetables such as spinach.

Oxalic acid tends to capture the calcium ion and form calcium oxalate crystals, which precipitate in the urethra, forming a type of kidney stone.

On the other hand, if phytic acid also participates in the diet, it sequesters calcium to form calcium phytates, which do not precipitate as crystals and therefore prevent lithiasis.

If magnesium also competes in the mixture, so much the better, because it is much more related to oxalic acid but forms soluble crystals, which do not precipitate and are expelled in the urine.

This is the main reason why the presence of legumes, nuts and whole grains in the diet is recommended. diet of people prone to kidney stones.

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