Are You Scared Of Anti-Nutrients? In Real, They Are Part Of A Normal Diet

Anti-Nutrients Can Be Found In Various Healthy Foods, Like Whole Grains And Legumes

While trying to change the dietary habits, most individuals tend towards consuming healthy nutrition and limiting the intake of less-healthy stuff. Intake of vitamins, fats, and fibers are usually kept in mind while aiming for completely nutritious and healthy food. Meanwhile, anti-nutrients are usually forgotten about as numerous people do not even understand the concept and importance of anti-nutrients in our daily food intake.

The anti-nutrients, which are generally skipped from a healthy variation of food consumption, do not negatively affect the body and are an essential part of a balanced diet, as long as the food intake is kept in moderation. In the past recent few years, scientists realize that anti-nutrients actually have various benefits on the health of an individual and should be consumed.

What are anti-nutrients? :

The anti-nutrients are molecular substances that are naturally found in various animal and plant foods. The name for anti-nutrients, which does not sound like a positive nutrient for the body, is due to how it begins to work inside the body after being consumed.

The anti-nutrients tend to interfere or block the absorption and flowing into the bloodstream of required nutrients from the food by the body to be used as energy as part of a normal digestive process while it is present in the small intestine. Consequently, it decreases the number of nutrients that were to be absorbed from food by the gut wall. The anti-nutrients generally interfere in the absorption of zinc, magnesium, potassium, iron, and calcium.

The anti-nutrients are produced in the body of plants as part of a defensive mechanism against unwanted substances, including fungi, bacteria, parasites, and insects. The concept can easily be described by an example; some of the anti-nutrients could alter the taste of the plant and turns it bitter, which would prevent it from being eaten by herbivore animals. At the same time, some of the other anti-nutrients found in plants could alter the internal body mechanism of the body and prevent the digestion of the seed that has been eaten. The seed would be kept intact until it comes back out through the fecal material of the animal and would eventually grow into a new plant. Both of these tactics for survival help the species of the plant to grow and spread further.

The anti-nutrients found in food that is consumed by humans include legumes and whole grains.

Health benefits of anti-nutrients consumption:

After various studies, it has been observed that anti-nutrients, despite sounding like a negative thing, are actually healthy and provide nutrients to the body, unless they are being consumed in very large quantities on a daily basis.

The anti-nutrients have undergone the change which was previously experienced in the case of dietary fibers, as it was once thought that dietary fibers are bad for health. Since the fibers after intake could bind to the nutrients present in the gut and extract them out from the body through feces, the dietary fibers were generally avoided in the diet.

After intensive experimentation and trials, scientists now know that the intake of dietary fibers is an essential part of a healthy and balanced diet and helps lowers the risk of being obese, gastrointestinal diseases, diabetes, strokes, heart diseases, and high blood pressure.

In the same manner, the anti-nutrients are considered healthy products to be added to the daily diet. Following are some of the anti-nutrients which are frequently eaten and have various benefits on the general health of an individual:

Saponins, which could easily be found in legumes, are an excellent source to increase the immune system of the body while reducing the risk of developing carcinogenic cells, lower the amount of cholesterol deposition, reducing the level of blood sugar in response to different foods, reducing the possibility of developing kidney stone while fighting against clotting of blood which could possibly cause strokes and heart attacks.

Lectins, which have been found in legumes and cereal grains, have been associated with reducing the risk for possible cardiovascular disease, cancers, diabetes, or gaining weight in unhealthy amounts.

Tannins, which can commonly be found in coffee, tea, and processed cheese and meats, contain antioxidants that do not allow the growth of any yeast, fungi, viruses, or bacteria and helps in the reduction of blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels.

Phytates, which are found in corn, rice, barley, and wheat, have been associated with an increase in the functionality of the immune system and apoptosis of cancerous cells, along with the reduction of spread and growth of carcinogenic cells. They also contain antioxidant properties and works in reducing the inflammatory response generated by the body.

Lastly, glucosinates that are found in brassica vegetables, including cauliflower, inhibit the growth of tumor cells which are harmful to the body.

Oxalates are one of the anti-nutrients found in food products that have the most negative impact after consumption. However, they are found to be present in various food products that are generally used on a daily basis, like sweet potatoes, dark green vegetables, beer, tea, coffee, soda, wheat bran, tofu, chocolate, oranges, cranberries, berries, beets, and legumes.

The somewhat harmful effect of oxalate as an anti-nutrient on the body includes binding oxalate to calcium molecules which are present inside the digestive tract, and remove it through bowel movements from the body. In some cases, oxalates could increase the possibility of developing kidney stones.

Consumption of required amount of anti-nutrients:

Overall, the drawbacks of anti-nutrients outweigh the benefits, although the food products which contain anti-nutrients should be regularly taken in an optimum amount as they are found in legumes, whole grains, vegetables, and various fruits.

The anti-nutrients could turn into a concerning situation if the food product is taken in high quantity. In addition, a very large proportion of the anti-nutrients that should be present are lost while the product is either cooked or processed, especially if it includes boiling, blanching, soaking, or other processing involving high heat.

Vegans or vegetarians are bound to be at a high risk of having negative side effects from the anti-nutrients as a major component of their diet includes vegetables, fruits, legumes, or whole grains. It has been observed that plant-based diets are some of the healthiest and have been associated with a reduction in the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancers, or obesity.

The vegan and vegetarians dieters can take some additional preventive steps that would help them in counteracting the effects of anti-nutrients on the absorption of specified nutrients:

Pair the iron-rich and zinc food products with those fruits that contain a high quantity of vitamin C. Soaking of legumes before it is cooked also helps to remove anti-nutrients. The daily intake should be timed to prevent it from being eaten alongside foods that contain high oxalate content. A multivitamin-mineral supplement intake should be taken into consideration which contains 100% of the daily dose of intake but should initially be discussed with a health practitioner.

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