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Despite Phytic Acid – Beans And Rice Are Nutritious

Beans and rice are filling, nutritious, taste good, and are affordable. When it comes to rice, the question arises, which is better: polished white rice or brown rice? The latter contains – just like beans – the so-called phytic acid. It should bind minerals to itself and in this way make them worthless for humans. Now read what you have to pay attention to when preparing the two foods so that you get rid of the phytic acid once and for all.

Beans and rice contain phytic acid

Beans (white beans, lima beans, black beans, etc.) and rice contain a lot of wonderful nutrients and vital substances: In addition to up to 35 grams of protein per 100 grams*, legumes provide almost all B vitamins, including the important folic acid, as well as an interesting quantity and variety of minerals and trace elements.

The real meaning of phytic acid

The phosphate-containing phytic acid serves as an energy source for the seedling. When the seed has enough warmth and water available, it becomes alive.

As soon as the germination process begins, the enzyme phytase is formed in the grain. Phytase breaks down phytic acid, releasing the phosphorus stored in it. This in turn is now available to the baby plant as an important nutrient for growth and development.

Phytic acid inhibits mineral absorption

As great as phytic acid may be for the seedling, it is not necessarily so for humans. Phytic acid can prevent the absorption of minerals such as calcium and trace elements such as e.g. B. inhibit zinc or reduce their usability.

For this reason, the plant substance is currently one of the favorite arguments of the white flour fraction. Since neither white flour nor polished rice contains outer layers, they are relatively low in phytic acid – white flour is more so than white rice.

White rice is low in vital substances

However, white flour products and white rice not only lack a large part of the original phytic acid but also – in addition to a number of other useful secondary plant substances and dietary fibers – also half of the calcium and three-quarters of the original amount of zinc.

Consequently, it can be assumed that the amount of minerals and trace elements present in whole grain products is plentiful enough for the body to benefit even if the phytic acid also contained binds part of it.

Phytic acid is also useful

Apart from that, phytic acid is currently well on the way to shaking off its supposedly bad reputation. Recently, at least three properties of phytic acid were discovered that can be rated as extremely positive: It has a regulating effect on the blood sugar level and also has cancer-fighting abilities. Yes, apparently phytic acid is even supposed to help the organism to defend itself against harmful radiation.

Replace wheat bran with coconut flour

The leader in terms of phytic acid is wheat bran. 3,610 milligrams of phytic acid can be found in 100 grams of grain product, which is often consumed when digestion is sluggish. However, the bran is largely excreted unchanged, i.e. hardly digested, so there is no need to fear any negative effects from too much phytic acid.

But you could also switch to tasty coconut flour. It is also a very good source of roughage and at the same time free of phytic acid.

Quinoa – an ideal side dish

Wheat bran is followed at some distance by peanuts (which are not nuts, but a legume) with 1,336 milligrams and soybeans with 1,250 milligrams. The wide middle field is populated by various types of grain (barley, rye, corn, wheat, oats, and rice). The values vary between 890 milligrams for whole grain rice and 1,070 milligrams for barley.

The side dish we often recommend (which does not belong to the grains but to the goosefoot family) is quinoa. It provides only 541 milligrams of phytic acid, which can be significantly reduced with the right preparation method. In terms of phytic acid, legumes are between cereals and quinoa.

Even white rice still contains phytic acid

Despite its pristine white appearance, even polished rice is not entirely innocent. It still contains 240 milligrams of phytic acid, so a careful phytic acid-eliminating preparation cannot do any harm here either.

Cooking inactivates harmful substances, but not phytic acid

In addition to phytic acid, legumes contain a number of other substances that are harmful to health, which is the main reason why they are hardly ever eaten raw, are extremely intolerant when raw, and can even lead to serious symptoms of poisoning in most people.

These unwelcome substances include B. the phaseolunatin, the phasin and the so-called. Enzyme inhibitors. The latter means that if these inhibitors are present in the body, the function of protein-splitting digestive enzymes is blocked, which can make protein utilization more difficult.

Practically all of these substances are either destroyed or inactivated by normal cooking – with the exception of phytic acid. This is not that easy to remove.

Beans and rice – the optimal way of preparation

Basically, the phytic acid problem is by no means new. Apparently, some primitive peoples know quite instinctively – probably without ever having heard of phytic acid – how to prepare grain and bean dishes so that they can benefit the organism as best as possible and not harm it in any way whatsoever.

Ferment grain

African people, for example, eat cereals frequently. The fermentation inactivates the phytic acid (at least to a large extent), so that fermented dishes are extremely digestible and their nutrients can be better used.

For this reason, you should only buy bread from a baker who is still familiar with the dough process for cereals, which often ferments, or who is familiar with baking-fermented bread. These are mostly bakers who supply organic shops. Most of today’s bread, on the other hand, is made in a rush process and consequently contains phytic acid. Back to the African cooking traditions. There, for example, millet is prepared like this:

Millet like in Africa

The millet is soaked in water overnight and then pureed in the blender (probably with the same water, but to be on the safe side you can also replace the soaking water with fresh water).

The resulting pulp is left to stand for another night in a warm place so that the fermentation can start. Lactic acid bacteria, which are everywhere in the air, will soon colonize the millet porridge and break down the phytic acid. On the third day, the millet porridge is gently boiled for a quarter of an hour.

Another option would be to mix the porridge with herbs, sea salt, and finely grated vegetables, pour it onto a baking sheet (lined with parchment paper) and let it dry in the sun for a few hours. Theoretically, other types of grain, including brown rice, can also be prepared using this method.

Wheat like in Egypt

In Egypt and some Arab countries, corn and wheat dishes are also prepared in a similar way. Kishk, for example, is the name given to a fermented dish made from parboiled wheat and milk. The wheat is boiled, then dried again, ground sifted out of the bran, and mixed with leavened and salted milk. After 48 hours of fermentation time, the mass is mixed well, formed into balls, and dried.

But who has three days left and desires to cook a simple grain dish? Luckily, phytic acid removal also works in a slightly faster way.

Proper preparation of beans and rice

Before rice and beans (or other legumes) are cooked, soak them in water – preferably overnight, or even better for 24 to 48 hours. This soaking not only cuts the cooking time quite significantly (by about half an hour) but also reduces the phytic acid content (although not completely). The soaking water is discarded and legumes in particular are boiled in fresh water.

Reduce phytic acid

Soaking legumes, discarding the soaking water, and boiling the legumes can reduce phytic acid by about 60%.

Phytic acid in canned or jarred legumes

In jar/canned legumes, the phytic acid content is said to be reduced by about 40%.

Soak first, then cook

After soaking, discard the soaking water. Now boil rice or legumes in fresh water. Do not add salt to the cooking water for legumes. Salt prevents beans & co. from becoming soft.

You can tell if you’ve soaked the beans and rice long enough when the beans and rice grains are already soft enough to chew. Now boil the beans and let them simmer gently for about 30 to 45 minutes, depending on the type of beans. Even with whole grain rice, the cooking time depends on the variety. Long-grain rice (e.g. Indian basmati or jasmine rice) cooks faster than medium-grain and short-grain rice.

Boil legumes separately

If you are planning a stew or soup, always cook the legumes separately and only add them when they are ready. This way the other ingredients (vegetables) do not suffer from the long cooking times of the legumes.

Let the rice soak after cooking

Rice turns out particularly well if, after the main cooking time, it can sit for half an hour or longer with the pot lid closed on the switched-off stovetop or next to the stovetop.

Beans and rice – high biological value

It is therefore very easy to prepare not only delicious but also completely harmless meals from rice and beans. It is particularly useful when they both eat together – which is popular in Central and South America. Then you get a protein profile of high biological value.

Add to that the fact that legumes and brown rice also have a very low glycemic index (between 35 and 45, while white rice is around 70), making them ideal for people trying to lose weight or keep their blood sugar levels under control, then legumes are the way to go and also add rice regularly – in small quantities – to your menu.

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Written by Bella Adams

I'm a professionally-trained, executive chef with over ten years in Restaurant Culinary and hospitality management. Experienced in specialized diets, including Vegetarian, Vegan, Raw foods, whole food, plant-based, allergy-friendly, farm-to-table, and more. Outside of the kitchen, I write about lifestyle factors that impact well-being.

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