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I've heard that soaking dried beans for 24 hours reduces the phytate level, allowing for greater access to nutrients. Is this true?

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Beverly16324   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.

Alex15445   August 23, 2017
When you say it's not worth soaking grains, does this extend to quinoa and buckwheat too?

ConsumerLab.com   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.

Alex15444   August 23, 2017
Aren't the complex sugars part of the benefit of beans?

ConsumerLab.com   August 24, 2017
Hi Alex - Complex sugars found in beans cannot be digested by humans and cause flatulence, so soaking can reduce that.

Helen15442   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.

ConsumerLab.com   August 24, 2017
Hi Helen - This study on moth beans showed very little phytate reduction from pressure cooking alone (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/wol1/doi/10.1111/j.1365-2621.1986.tb13887.x/abstract), although there does not appear to be research on the effects of pressure cooking on other types of beans.

david15438   August 23, 2017
do the canned beans have to be soaked

ConsumerLab.com   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.

Roddy15437   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?

ConsumerLab.com   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 (http://pubs.rsc.org/-/content/articlehtml/2009/em/b816906c).

Barbara15394   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.

ConsumerLab.com   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.

Deborah15384   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.

ConsumerLab.com   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.

Deborah15473   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.

ConsumerLab.com   August 28, 2017
Thank you Deborah! We're glad this was helpful for you.

Robin15196   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?

ConsumerLab.com   July 6, 2017
Hi Robin -- Reduction of phytate occurs during the sprouting process, so no further soaking should be necessary.

Sarah15118   June 16, 2017
Any idea of there is a minimum about if soaking water necessary to get the benefits of soaking beans?

ConsumerLab.com   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.

Sarah15120   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.

ConsumerLab.com   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.

Sarah15138   June 18, 2017
That does seem to be the standard amount. I hope someday that piece gets tested too. Thanks so much!

Michael15113   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 .

ConsumerLab.com   June 16, 2017
If you're not removing the cooking water, you're not removing the phytates.

gloria15110   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?

ConsumerLab.com   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.

Edwin15101   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?

ConsumerLab.com   June 18, 2017
Hi Edwin -- It doesn't seem like cooking in broth after soaking and discarding the water has any further benefit.

Barbara15097   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?

ConsumerLab.com   June 14, 2017
As noted in our answer to the question above, it's probably not worth soaking grains, Barbara.

Markie15084   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!

ConsumerLab.com   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.

AARON14093   June 11, 2017
What would your advice on oats be, because I've also heard of similar issues with phytates for oats?

ConsumerLab.com   June 18, 2017
Hi Aaron -- As noted in our answer above, it is probably not worth soaking oats or other grains.

MSV14084   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.

Raphaela15106   June 15, 2017
I always soak my grains and nuts following the information on this link: http://traditionalcookingschool.com/2009/07/06/grain-cooking-chart/ I hope it will benefit you too.

ConsumerLab.com   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.

J15123   June 18, 2017
Weston Price says we are supposed to soak grains before eating them...is 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?

ConsumerLab.com   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.

This CL Answer initially posted on 6/10/2017. Last updated 8/24/2017.

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