Phytic acid

Synonyms: inositol hexakisphosphate (IP6), phytate

The phytic acid, also known as inositol hexakisphosphate (IP6) or phytate, is present in all seeds and therefore in whole grain cereals, legumes and nuts (see table below).

Content of phytic acid in food

Food mg phytic acid per 100 g
Wheat bran
3610
Wheat germ
1470
Peanut
1336
Soybean seeds dried
1250
Barley, whole grain
1070
Rye, whole grain
970
Corn, whole grain
940
Wheat, whole grain
906
Oat, whole grain
900
Rice, whole grain
890
Bean seed, white, dried
800
Mung bean seed, dried
629
Quinoa
541
Chickpea seed, dried
338
Wholemeal wheaten bread
330
Chickpea seed, green
280
Rye bread
250
Rice
240
Pumpernickel
100
White bread
20
Banana
20
Avocado
17

The phytic acid is mostly stored within the husks of the grain and provides the plant the necessary energy during germination.

In order to release this energy, the plant needs an enzyme called phytase, which liberates through germinating and soaking. This is the reason why e.g. bread dough should proved several hours - in this way the phytic acid is segregated and made harmless.

The average intake of phytic acid depends on the nutritional behavior and is about 0.3-3.0 g per day (Schlemmer 1995). In the gastro-intestinal tract, phytic acid can bind dietary minerals (like iron, calcium and zinc) under certain circumstances and decrease their absorption in the small intestine. This can lead to a lack of iron and zinc, especially in the developing countries.

In general, a normal nutrition with an average intake of phytic acid, as it is common in the industrial countries, does not affect the absorption of iron and zinc (National Research Council 1989).

Nowadays there also seem to be positive effects of phytic acid: it inhibits temporarily the enzyme amylase and therefore the conversion of starch to sugar and the rise of the blood glucose level can be significantly suppressed. Furthermore, anti-carcinogenic effects were observed in animal tests.

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