For those of you who bake breads from scratch, you may have run across the phytic acid debate in your search for methods and recipes that make for healthy food for your family. If you're like me, you may have run across it years ago, dismissed it, and then years later panicked about it after being barraged by websites and blogs telling you that whole grains are killing you (and your loved ones) slowly and painlessly.
In short, phytic acid is present in both the bran and hull in most grains, nuts, beans, and seeds. Because it has strong binding properties, it clings to both toxins and minerals in the body, and carries them out of the body with it. Do you see how this can be both good and bad? Sure, it gets rid of toxins, but can also leave you mineral deficient. Click here to read a more detailed description from Nourishing Days. If you are familiar with Sally Fallon's Nourishing Traditions cookbook, then you've probably read in detail her concerns and solutions for the presence of phytic acid in certain foods, the main solution being to ferment grains for several hours before consumption. This can be done using a variety of methods, the most popular being soaking grains and/or flour in a cultured product such as yogurt, buttermilk, vinegar, or kefir.
On the contrary, Bread Beckers offers the counter-argument. Click here to read Sue Becker's take on the debate.
Where am I falling right now? Somewhere in between. Ever since we began grinding our own flour, I've noticed a huge difference in the health of our family, so I have a hard time believing what we've been doing is all bad. Sally Fallon recommends the famous slowly-fermented sourdough bread instead of yeast breads, though the rising time in yeast breads can break down some of the phytic acid. My rising times probably aren't long enough at this point to totally break down the phytic acid, but I feel comfortable with the yeast breads I've been baking for my family until I can do more research.
However, I have been soaking the flour I use for quick breads overnight, which has alleviated some of my "what-if-they're-right" concerns. It has thrown me for a loop as far as the recipes I use, but I've found The Nourishing Gourmet (thank you, Christine!) to be helpful. Her pumpkin muffin recipe rocked, but if anyone has a good soaked-grain recipe for strawberry muffins, send it on over! My adaptation of my old recipe literally fell flat.
What about rice, beans, and other grains? I've been trying to soak those as I remember to do so. At this point in my life, recipe planning is non-existent. The house, the garden, the children, and the animals all occupy a great deal of my time, so we kind of just rotate through the same types of meals every week. It both drives me crazy and keeps me sane, if that makes sense.
So where are you in the Great Phytic Acid Debate? Do tell.
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