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What are anti-nutrients in plant food and how can they affect my gut health?



In recent years, people have become increasingly aware of the importance of gut health. What you eat plays an important role in the health of your gut, and one thing that many people don’t consider when it comes to their diet is the presence of anti-nutrients in certain plant foods. We are always told that plant foods are the most important to health, but is this actually true?


Anti-nutrients are compounds that can have a negative effect on the body, and they are found in some plant-based foods, such as grains, beans, and legumes. Anti-nutrients can interfere with the absorption of certain nutrients, including vitamins and minerals, and they can also have a negative effect on gut health.


Here are some of the anti nutrients that can exist in plant foods:


1. Phytic Acid: Phytic acid is a compound found in plant seeds and grains that binds to minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium and zinc, preventing them from being absorbed in the gut. High levels of phytic acid can lead to mineral deficiencies and poor gut health.


2. Lectins: Lectins are proteins found in all plants, but are particularly high in raw legumes and grains. High consumption of lectins can lead to inflammation and damage to the gut lining.


3. Saponins: Saponins are compounds found in a variety of plants, including legumes, that can irritate the gut lining and cause inflammation and damage.


4. Gluten: Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye that can cause inflammation and damage to the gut lining in people with gluten sensitivities.


5. Oxalates: Oxalates are compounds found in a variety of plants, including spinach and rhubarb, that can bind to calcium and iron and prevent them from being absorbed in the gut.


6. Goitrogens: Goitrogens are compounds found in a variety of foods, including cruciferous vegetables, that can interfere with the absorption of thyroid hormones and lead to poor gut health.


7. Trypsin Inhibitors: Trypsin inhibitors are compounds found in raw legumes and grains that can interfere with the digestion of proteins and lead to poor gut health.


8. Aluminum: Aluminum is a metal found in the soil that can be absorbed by plants and enter the body through the food we eat. High levels of aluminum can lead to poor gut health.


9. Resistant Starch: Resistant starch is a type of starch found in certain foods, including potatoes, that cannot be digested in the small intestine and can cause indigestion, bloating, and other digestive issues.


10. FODMAPs: FODMAPs are short-chain carbohydrates found in a variety of foods that can be difficult to digest and can lead to intestinal discomfort and poor gut health.




Some of the most common anti-nutrients are phytic acid, lectins, and saponins. Phytic acid binds to minerals, such as iron and zinc, in the gut and prevents them from being absorbed. Lectins are proteins that are found in some plant-based foods and can damage the lining of the intestine. Saponins are compounds that can irritate the gut and cause inflammation.


Here are 10 plant foods high in anti-nutrients


1. Legumes – Legumes contain high levels of anti-nutrients such as phytates, which can inhibit the absorption of minerals like calcium, zinc and iron.


2. Grains – Grains contain high levels of lectins, which can cause digestive distress and inflammation.


3. Soy – Soybeans contain high levels of phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors, which can interfere with the absorption of minerals and proteins.


4. Almonds – Almonds contain high levels of tannins, which can interfere with the absorption of minerals like iron and zinc.


5. Seeds – Seeds contain high levels of enzyme inhibitors, which can interfere with digestion.


6. Nuts – Nuts contain high levels of oxalates, which can inhibit the absorption of calcium and iron.


7. Corn – Corn contains high levels of phytic acid, which can interfere with the absorption of minerals like zinc and iron.


8. Spinach – Spinach contains high levels of oxalates, which can interfere with the absorption of calcium and iron.


9. Potatoes – Potatoes contain high levels of lectins, which can cause digestive distress and inflammation.


10. Rice – Rice contains high levels of phytic acid, which can interfere with the absorption of minerals like zinc and iron.


The good news is that anti-nutrients can be reduced or even eliminated by cooking, soaking, sprouting, or fermenting. For example, beans, grains, and legumes can be soaked overnight before cooking to reduce their phytic acid content. Similarly, sprouting or fermenting grains and legumes can also reduce their anti-nutrient content. It’s important to remember that anti-nutrients can have an adverse effect on gut health, so it’s important to be aware of their presence in your diet.


Eating a varied and balanced diet that includes plant-based foods can provide a wide range of health benefits, but it’s also important to be mindful of the potential negative effects of anti-nutrients. By taking the time to reduce or eliminate anti-nutrients from your diet, you can help to keep your gut healthy and functioning optimally.


Here are 10 plant foods that are low in anti nutrients


1. Cucumbers: Cucumbers are low in anti-nutrients and are easy to digest due to their high water content.


2. Apples: Apples are low in anti-nutrients and contain mostly simple sugars, making them easy to digest.


3. Bananas: Bananas are low in anti-nutrients and are easy to digest due to their soft texture.


4. Zucchini: Zucchini is low in anti-nutrients and is easy to digest due to its high water content.


5. Carrots: Carrots are low in anti-nutrients and are easy to digest due to their low fiber content.


6. Peas: Peas are low in anti-nutrients and are easy to digest due to their small size.


7. Lettuce: Lettuce is low in anti-nutrients and is easy to digest due to its high water content.


8. Broccoli: Broccoli is low in anti-nutrients and is easy to digest due to its low fiber content.


9. Cauliflower: Cauliflower is low in anti-nutrients and is easy to digest due to its low fiber content.


10. Green beans: Green beans are low in anti-nutrients and are easy to digest due to their small size.






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