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Antinutrients, a name that already highlights the idea that they are to be avoided. In truth, this is not exactly the case. In general, at the table, it is better to vary and do not eliminate foodrather, learn how and when to ingest them, perhaps cooking them in the most appropriate way. It is also the case of antinutrients.
Antinutrients: what they are
These are substances that hinder digestion and absorption of nutrients. Rather intuitive. If there are several in foods of plant origin, the examples that may be best known to those who have studied the topic are those phytases, saponins or lectins. Among antinutrients we also find pancreatic protease or amylase inhibitors which are enzymes that are very useful, indeed necessary, for digestion.
In addition to legumes and cereals, they contain antinutrients also walnuts, hazelnuts and almonds. This emerges from the fact that some people do not digest them very easily. It would be a mistake to give up dried fruit and these varieties that are particularly interesting. If we are among those who digest these with difficulty three foods, let's learn how to "prepare them": let them soak for a couple of hours, dry them in the oven at a low temperature or pass them in a non-stick pan, and then enjoy them peacefully.
Antinutrients and toxic substances
Let's not confuse the antinutrient substances with those toxic in the true sense of the word. If they are toxic, they are towards the enemies of plants, in fact they use the antinutrients for protection from external attacks.
Antinutrients and cereals
Cereals can contain antinutrients, to try to make them more digestible, it is necessary to soak them for a shorter time than legumes, which, as we will see, require more patience. 7 or 8 hours are enough for cereals, then we can rinse them under water and cook them taking care not to recycle the water, otherwise we never get rid of antinutrients.
There are some singularity in the cereal category: buckwheat must soak for a maximum of 10 minutes, grains can then also be consumed raw and sprouted. The leavening process, for example the natural one of sourdough, can make it easier to assimilate i micronutrients and bread much more digestible.
Antinutrients and legumes
For legumes, as I mentioned, soaking takes a long time. From 12 to 24 hours, it depends on the size of the variety we are preparing, but it is always necessary to dose well to obtain one part of legume and three of water. Rinse with running water and cooked in unsalted water, better if in clay pots and very slowly, then they are ready to be enjoyed.
If we want to overdo it, or vary the flavors, fighting more tenaciously the effect of antinutrients, we can add while cooking thekombu seaweed which speeds up times. The use of spices such as rosemary and sage is also recommended, but also mint, oregano, bay leaf, coriander and fennel seeds which give flavor, facilitate digestion and they limit the formation of intestinal gas.
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