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Soaking Beans to Remove Phytates -- white beans soaking in a bowl of water

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December 28, 2017

I would like to point out that deficiencies of iron, zinc, and calcium due to phytates are unlikely to occur in most people living in developed countries and eating a varied diet.

The deficiencies are common in populations whose diet (often due to famine, drought, poverty, refuge status) consists almost entirely of a single high-phytate food, supplemented, if at all, with small amounts of just a few other foods. Much of the research I've seen has been done to address this problem.

Although soaking beans in a particular way might be important for people who have reason to pay special attention to their intake of those minerals, my personal experience leads me to think that a healthy person with a varied diet does not have to worry about doing so.

I eat a serving of beans (cooked in their soaking water), a handful of nuts, and one to three servings of whole grains every day, and according to my blood tests am not even borderline deficient in iron, zinc, or calcium. (Besides fruits and veg, I eat a little dairy, occasional fish, but no other meat.)

I thought this might ease some minds.

August 23, 2017

When you say it's not worth soaking grains, does this extend to quinoa and buckwheat too?
August 24, 2017

Hi Alex - Soaking may reduce phytates in quinoa, but there does not appear to be any studies on whether this causes significant nutrient loss, or on the effects of soaking on phytates and nutrients in buckwheat.

August 23, 2017

Aren't the complex sugars part of the benefit of beans?
August 24, 2017

Hi Alex - Complex sugars found in beans cannot be digested by humans and cause flatulence, so soaking can reduce that.

August 23, 2017

I have read that pressure cooking dry beans without soaking improves their nutrition. But one would not be removing the water, actually using less water.
Is there any research on the effects of pressure cooking?
Thank you.
August 24, 2017

Hi Helen - This study on moth beans showed very little phytate reduction from pressure cooking alone (, although there does not appear to be research on the effects of pressure cooking on other types of beans.

August 23, 2017

do the canned beans have to be soaked
August 24, 2017

Hi David - Thank you for your question. We've now added information about canned beans and phytate levels in the answer above.

August 23, 2017

I thought soaking rice is one of the ways to lower the arsenic level. But you are saying not to soak rice because it will cause loss of nutrients. So what is the deal, to soak or not to soak?
August 24, 2017

Hi Roddy - While soaking may reduce arsenic, it also severely reduces the nutrient content. Cooking rice in a high ratio of water to rice also lowers the arsenic level (

August 15, 2017

Are canned beans pre-soaked before cooking? I have read that the antioxidant value of canned beans is higher than cooked unless steamed or pressure cooked. Thanks.
August 24, 2017

Hi Barbara - We've added information about processing methods (which can vary) and phytate levels in canned beans in the answer above.

August 13, 2017

I love the information I get from Consumer Labs. FYI, I never buy a product unless it's been rated by CL.
My question is.... I'm an incredibly lazy, spontaneous meal preparer. Do you know if canned beans have had the antinutrient phytate soaked out of them? Thank you.
August 24, 2017

Thank you for your kind words, Deborah. We've now added information about phytate levels in canned beans to the answer above.

August 27, 2017

Bravo! Just the information I needed. As always, CL is the place to go, to be in the know. Thank you Consumer Lab.
August 28, 2017

Thank you Deborah! We're glad this was helpful for you.

June 21, 2017

I buy (dried) sprouted lentils, because they're supposed to be more digestible and nutritious. Since pre-soaking is part of the sprouting process, I'm guessing that no further soaking is needed to remove phytates from sprouted lentils before cooking them. Any information on this?
July 6, 2017

Hi Robin -- Reduction of phytate occurs during the sprouting process, so no further soaking should be necessary.

June 16, 2017

Any idea of there is a minimum about if soaking water necessary to get the benefits of soaking beans?
June 16, 2017

Hi Sarah -- Research has been done to find the optimal time, as noted in the full answer, but studies have shown some phytate reduction after 4 hours of soaking.

June 17, 2017

Thanks. But do you know if there any research on the amount of soaking water needed to reduce phytate? As in does 1 cup dry beans need to be soaked in at least 4 cups water etc. for the phytate amount to be reduced. I know not using enough soaking water will keep the beans from releasing some of the "musical" compounds so I was wondering if that applies to the phytate amount as well.
June 18, 2017

While there isn't much research specifically on the amount of water that should be used, most of the studies that test bean soaking use between 3 and 5 cups of water for each cup of beans.

June 18, 2017

That does seem to be the standard amount. I hope someday that piece gets tested too. Thanks so much!

June 16, 2017

How about just cooking the beans for 2 or 3. Days as they do in Mexico and other countries before they mash them into a paste. They don't pre soak them.Does this reduce the phytates and preserve nutritional value .
June 16, 2017

If you're not removing the cooking water, you're not removing the phytates.

June 16, 2017

There is a substitute for soaking dried beans for hours; it saves a lot of time. I put them in a pot with lots of water, bring to a boil and cook for 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and let them sit for 1-2 hours. After that, drain the water, rinse, and start all over with fresh water to finish cooking the beans. Have done that for years, and assume that it reduces the phytate levels sufficiently, since I have never become ill from them and it does greatly reduce their gas-producing ability as well as soaking. Got this method from an online cooking site. Any comments?
June 16, 2017

Hi Gloria - As explained in the full answer above, cooking doesn't remove more phytates than soaking. Also, the phytates won't make you ill but can reduce the nutrients you get from the beans. You might, however, consider soaking first, then cooking in fresh water because by doing the double cooking, you may be losing more nutrients than if you soaked/cooked.

June 14, 2017

You comment that it is important to drain the water and use new water to cook the beans to further reduce antinutrient levels. What is the effect of draining the water then cooking in chicken or beef broth? Any added benefit or not?
June 18, 2017

Hi Edwin -- It doesn't seem like cooking in broth after soaking and discarding the water has any further benefit.

June 14, 2017

I have been rinsing legumes after soaking but with grains, I cook them in the same water after soaking. Maybe this would help preserve the nutrients and the benefits of soaking?
June 14, 2017

As noted in our answer to the question above, it's probably not worth soaking grains, Barbara.

June 12, 2017

I have read (Nourishing Traditions) that adding whey, yogurt, or lemon juice is important to the soaking process. Has Consumer Lab checked this effect on beans? Would love to have all the stuff in Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon studied by CL so the public would see how ahead of her time and important her findings and the Weston A. Price Foundation is!
June 18, 2017

Hi Markie -- There doesn't seem to be any research on soaking in yogurt or whey, and as noted in our answer above, adding acid like lemon juice has not shown an effect.

June 11, 2017

What would your advice on oats be, because I've also heard of similar issues with phytates for oats?
June 18, 2017

Hi Aaron -- As noted in our answer above, it is probably not worth soaking oats or other grains.

May 20, 2020

I pressure cook whole oat groats for breakfast after soaking overnight, and soaking worthwhile in terms of dramatically reducing cooking time.

June 11, 2017

Thank you so much for the article!
Does anyone know how soaking for sprouting impacts the nutrient level in general (beans, grains, rice)?
I have been soaking (not sprouting) organic brown rice prior to cooking. Is this information also applicable to soaking rice/grains?
Thanks for any comment.

June 15, 2017

I always soak my grains and nuts following the information on this link: I hope it will benefit you too.
June 15, 2017

Hi Raphaela - This article doesn’t seem to cite any clinical data, and we haven’t seen any results that support an increase in nutrient absorption from soaking grains.

June 18, 2017

Weston Price says we are supposed to soak grains before eating his data trustworthy?
Also, he does not mention draining the water it's been soaked in and putting it in fresh water before cooking, so always wondered if you're just cooking it in "phytate water".... what do you think?
June 18, 2017

Per our answer, soaking grains is probably not worth it because of the nutrient reduction, and yes, replacing the water is important.

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