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Antinutrients in foods? Don't worry about them.

Thhere has been a lot of negative talk about antinutrients in plant foods. So, what are antinutrients? They are compounds--found naturally in whole grains, nuts, seeds, beans, and leafy greens that may decrease nutritional value of foods by making the nutrients less available to your body. Antinutrients may sound scary, but there's no need to ditch these healthy plant foods from your diet. The simple act of preparing and cooking foods, such as grains and beans, helps to reduce an-tinutrient content and improve the availability of nutrients. Also, since a varied, balanced diet provides more than enough nutrients, the small loss due to antinutrients isn't a problem.

The scoop on antinutrients. There are many different kinds of antinutrients in foods. Oxalates, found in leafy greens (spinach, beet greens and chard), interferes with your body's absorption of calcium in these foods. Phytates, found in legumes, nuts, seeds and grains, hold on to important minerals like iron, zinc and calcium. Other examples are lectins and trypsin inhibitors, which are found in legumes like lentils and soybeans and can get in the way of normal digestion.

Not so bad. Sure, antinutrients do slightly decrease the nutritional value of plant foods, but their presence may do us some good as well. Many of these compounds have anti-inflammatory effects, and research shows that they may play a role in the prevention of conditions like cancer, heart disease and diabetes. Science is just beginning to understand their complicated role in our bodies, but there are certainly positives to balance the negatives. So enjoy plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, and nuts, and don't be anti-antinutrients!

Judith C. Thalheimer, RD. LDN

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Title Annotation:You Should Know
Author:Thalheimer, Judith C.
Publication:Environmental Nutrition
Article Type:Brief article
Date:Sep 1, 2014
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