A lot of foods contain anti-nutrients, however the amount of anti-nutrients present varies significantly. Everything from wheat to oats to black beans to broccoli has anti-nutrients so which ones are ok to consume?
Does the health benefits of eating a certain foods outweigh the cons of consuming the lectins or phytates? If so...enjoy. You just may need to watch your quantitiy.
Does eating a certain food offer little nutritional and health benefits but still contain significant levels of anti-nutrients? If so...avoid.
Pretty simple right?
You might be asking yourself "ok I can wrap my head around that so how do I know what foods contain lectins and phytates and how do I know which are healthy and which are not?".
First remember this, grains, legumes, and nuts are your worst offenders for both lectins and phytates. There are some foods outside of this list that do contain these anti-nutrients but we are not going to worry about them. That is just taking healthy flexible nutrition and making it complicated and frustrating!
Here is a table of whole grains and their associated phytate levels per 100g serving.
But...oatmeal is relatively low on the Glycemic Index, is a good source of plant based protein and fiber, and is a decent source of iron. It is also convenient, delicious, and a good source of carbs after that gruelling workout.
For a flexible "dieter" like myself I think the pros outweigh the cons and this goes into the "ok to eat" list.
Similar to oats, brown rice is on the lower end when it comes to phytic acid. Again it will contain higher levels of lectins since it is a grain but it does contain a small amount of plant based protein along with some fiber.
For those of you who do need to consume higher volumes of carbohydrates in your diet brown rice can be a decent source (although I would still prefer white).
But aside from the fact that legumes are large offenders when it comes to anti-nutrients they are an excellent source of plant based proteins and have a nice protein to carb ratio.
I would just mention two things to go along with this. One, try to prepare your legumes by soaking them (over night) before you cook 'em. This will help deactivate some of the anti-nutrients. Second, if you find you get bloated, gassy (there is a reason the old rhyme exists), or overall a not great feeling when you eat legumes then I would try to avoid them.
Now nuts can really creep up there when it comes to phytates. Almonds and brazil nuts can have upward of 6000mg-9000mg per 100g serving. That is a shitload!
But the good news is that nuts are not a staple in our diets. If for some reason they are in yours try to reduce your consumption and leave some for the squirrels.
Nuts are great sources of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats but you do not need much. A small handful everyday or two will do just fine. Therefore if you are consuming a small amount of nuts each week do not worry about the anti-nutrient levels. The good will outweigh the bad.
Minimize or Avoid: Wheat, Most Grains, Soy.
Wheat has a whole host of problems that go along with it besides just the lectins and phytates. It has a very high Glycemic Index (higher than sugar), contains gluten, and has virtually zero micronutrients.
The same can be said for most grains. This is why with the exception of oatmeal and rice (go for white:)) I avoid or minimize all other grains in my diet and wold recommend trying to do the same.
If a little bread or slice of pizza sneaks in once in a while don't sweat it. But grains are such a huge portion of the North American's diet that they may be really wreaking havoc on our health and wellness.
And soy. Soy is a bit of a hot topic so let's clarify a few things. It contains very high levels of anti-nutrients. It also contains phyto-estrogens (plant based estrogen). Now there are other foods, specifically other legumes, that also contain phyto-estrogens, but soy is the worst.
Males in particular want to reduce there consumption of phyto-estrogens but females should watch their intake as well. Altering any hormone level in your body can lead to a whole host of issues.
It is also very difficult to track down non-GMO soy. It does exist but surprisingly difficult to find.
Now one good thing about soy is it is the only plant based protein to contain the all the essential amino acids. Therefore from a strictly protein point of view it is the best source of plant based protein.
In my personal opinion the good does not outweigh the bad and I would try to reduce or eliminate soy from your diet.
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