Common foods high in phytic acid (keep them in mind when going raw)


Foods high in phytic acid - seed foodsI haven’t been actively blogging this month – hurdles on the way. Catching up on the evil acid.

Here are the tables with common foods high in phytic acid. I’ve “borrowed” them from the 2009 review article that German researchers came up with – they gathered bits and pieces from 443 (!) studies that one way or another deal with phytic acid.

Like I said in the phytic acid intro, although some veggies and fruits have it, the richest sources of phytic acid are seed foods – nuts, seeds, grains and legumes. If talking about an average person, not a vegan, as much as half of their calories is coming from these four food groups. In undeveloped countries, because people cannot afford too much meat and dairy, the percentage is higher. Of course, if you are a raw vegan the percentage is very high, so knowing which foods contain a lot of phytic acid is useful.

Obviously, the level of phytic acid depends on the type of seed food. It also depends on the water content of the food. For example, freshly picked green peas have less phytic acid per weight than dried peas simply because they have more water in them. However, in urban areas seeds are rarely eaten fresh, right after harvest. When was the last time you took out green peas or fava beans out of the pod or did you ever try fresh sunflower seeds? Anyways, to make sure that water content is not messing up the data, the tables provide phytic acid amounts per dry weight meaning all water was removed from seeds before taking measurements.

You may know that soaking and sprouting reduce phytic acid only to a certain point, which is very inconvenient. The reality is, to get rid of majority of phytic acid from seeds you may need to do a combination of soaking, sprouting and fermenting.  Yeah, pretty troublesome and time-consuming business but getting lazy often is not a good idea.

Okay, the tables.






If you scan through each table, you will see that per dry weight nuts contain more phytic acid than any other seed food. Almonds, walnuts and Brazil nuts are ahead of all other nuts. Unsprouted almonds can have up to 9.4 grams of phytic acid per 100 grams of dry weight. A 100 grams is about one cup, give or take. All nuts are calorie-dense and taste good – raw vegans love them, in whole form, in a form of butter, in any form. They are the most adored ingredient in salad dressings and desserts and sadly quite often in unsprouted form. Moreover, the majority of raw nut butters are made from unsprouted nuts. Not sprouting or soaking your seed foods means you ingest 100% of existing phytic acid which, if done on a long term, has repercussions.


Foods high in phytic acid - nuts






The next group is seeds. Among common seeds, sesame seeds and flax seeds (also known as linseeds) are pretty high in phytic acid. Both are common in the pantries of raw vegans. Sesame seeds are used to make raw vegan cheeses. As for flax seeds, I know some raw vegans for whom dehydrated flax crackers are like healthy version of Ritz crackers  –  they snack all the time on them. In terms of amounts, per 100 grams sesame seeds have up to 5.4 grams of phytic acid while flax seeds can contain up to 3.7 grams.


Foods high in phytic acid - seeds






Precisely cereal grains. Refined cereal grains with removed outer portion, a bran layer, are low in phytic acid. However, with bran layer intact, they are a decent source. But would you consider eating something refined? Don’t think so. For example, per 100 grams, unsprouted wheat has about 1.4 grams of phytic acid. Though significantly less than nuts and seeds if you like to include sprouted wheat in salads (remember, sprouting only does not remove all phytic acid), it is something to keep in mind. Another food to watch for is wild rice. Soaked, I think it tastes outstanding and if you surf through Internet there are many raw vegan recipes with wild rice. The problem with commercial wild rice is that it’s processed with heat. Actually, that’s how native Indians have been preparing it for consumption for hundreds of years. Nothing wrong about that but for this reason wild rice cannot be sprouted, so without fermenting you would ingest all existing phytic acid, which can reach up to 2.3 grams in 100 grams. Also, be cautious of brown rice when considering making milk from it.


Foods high in phytic acid - grains






Finally, the last group – legumes. Overall, they have more phytic acid than grains but I am putting them at the end because often times they are the last items in a raw vegan menu. Cowpeas, kidney beans and broad beans (fava beans) per 100 grams on average can have up to 2.3 grams of phytic acid. Quite an amount, however not many raw vegans eat legumes anyways. Personally, a few years ago when experimenting with sprouting beans and lentils, I found many of them bitter and down right unappetizing. I am pretty positive that it is not just me who feels this way. So far, sprouted mung beans are the only legumes that tastes good to me. Hence, if you are planning to go raw I don’t think legumes should be a big concern as very likely you won’t be too fond of them.


Foods high in phytic acid - legumes


I will repeat myself, the tables give phytic acid amounts per dry weight, meaning all water was removed from seeds. While the real amounts in whole dried seeds should be just a little bit smaller as dried seeds don’t contain a lot of water anyways.

To be on the safe side, Science Alert recommends reducing phytic acid to 8 grams per day. If translated into a whole food, 8 grams, for example, is roughly a cup of unsprouted cashew nuts assuming that cashews you’ve got contain the highest possible levels of phytic acid. Of course, not all cashews would have the maximum amounts of phytic acid and there is no quick way to find out how much they actually have, but it is not critical anyways. Just bear in mind to stick to 1-2 servings of seed foods per day and always soak, sprout or ferment them. To give you a point of reference, those following western diets, on average, consume about 2.6 grams of phytic acid per day, while cultures of the east, many of which are mostly vegetarian, ingest about 4.6 grams of phytic acid every day.

This brings up the next topic… how to knock off phytic acid through soaking, sprouting and fermenting – coming soon.



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