Anti-Nutrients….are you letting them scare you off whole foods? part 1 of 3

One of the more infuriating aspects of nutrition education is the highly confusing anti-nutrients debate.

For example, hot issues include but are not limited to….

Grains have PHYTATES.

Spinach has OXALATES.

Apple seeds have CYANIDE.

Legumes have PURINES.

Broccoli and cabbage have GOITROGENS.

Dr. Mercola propagates a bunch of needless fear, attacking all grains and some vegetables because they contain an anti-nutrient. He creates fear about lots of whole foods people have eaten for centuries. And then he moves on to leverage that to sell whey protein (an over-popular, highly refined food).

Keep in mind that I feel some of Mercola’s stuff is brilliant, important, and well researched. Some of it is salesy, with shoddy thinking/research. Sometimes I wonder if he doesn’t watch over his staff writers very well…..

No one addresses this issue more logically, than my friend Jim Simmons, whose book Original Fast Foods is a great addition to your library. Because it’s excellent, well researched, and comprehensive, with good recipes. It’s the closest thing out there to the diet I teach. There are lots of raw-food recipe books, but people burn out from how labor-intensive they can be. Eating cooked legumes and whole organic grains is a way to eat a whole-foods diet without burnout, and with the high-fiber, high-nutrition, low-effort gains of, for instance, split peas, lentils, and black beans. I am suspect of any eating plans that ban such foods. I advocate for 60-80% raw plant foods—but I feel that some cooked vegetables, legumes, and grains are a wonderfully healthy part of a good disease-preventative diet, as evidenced by long history.

Here’s what Jim said to me via email, when I posted on the goitrogens issue last July:

“Research now supports the idea that anti-nutrients are nature’s way of helping us to be more intuitive in our eating patterns. For instance, some spinach is really good for you, but as you consume too much, the level of oxalates will build up in your bloodstream to a point that a signal will be sent to your brain and then a signal is sent from the brain to your endocrine system. The long and the short is, you will lose your appetite for spinach until the level of oxalates drop sufficient that your taste for spinach is turned back on….don’t get too complicated in your eating habits.”

I agree with Jim. Anti-nutrients are in most, if not all, whole foods. This does not mean they are bad, scary, or to be avoided. God put them in the food for a reason.

Tomorrow I’ll write about each of those anti-nutrients.

3 thoughts on “Anti-Nutrients….are you letting them scare you off whole foods? part 1 of 3

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  1. Hi Robyn,

    Off topic but wanted to tell you how you are educating me and my 5 boys. We have read your books and I have read your children books to my boys…We were on Spring break and we make sandwiches instead of going out to eat and we ran out of our wheat bread. The mini mart only had 1 loaf of bread, white…I bought it just to feed my family …thinking it would be a treat for them…they then got very mad at me for buying white bread…only wanted wheat…”Junk food Dude and Green Smoothie Guy will not eat this I don’t want to either. I was shocked & proud of them for this reaction…So we feed the ducks and ate apples and carrots w/o sandwiches…Thanks for all you education for this family of 5 growing boys.

  2. Hi Robyn,

    I am a little worried by this post and about the “build up” of oxalates,” because my husband and I eat a TON of spinach. We go through 5 lbs in one week. Do we need to stop eating this food so many times a day? We love it in our green smoothies and I often make huge dinner or lunch salads with it or add it in our meal.

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