Phytates Aren’t All Bad

Did You Know…that phytates in beans and grains can help fight cancer cells?

An antioxidant found in beans, grains, seeds and nuts is proving to be a powerful cancer fighter.  The antioxidant is called phytic acid—and when it binds to a mineral in a seed, it’s known as phytate.

     Studies have shown that phytic acid/phytate…

 Helps fight cancer
 Prevents the occurrence of kidney stones
 Protects against diabetes
 Wards off cavities
 Strengthens cardiovascular health

How Phytate Fights Cancer 

When phytic acid gets processed in the gut, it yokes together with minerals to prevent the formation of free radicals that lead to oxidative damage and disease.

Phytic acid also binds to heavy metals in the gut, helping to rid the body of accumulated toxins like cadmium and mercury.

Phytate is also taken up by cancer cells throughout the body.
From there, this antioxidant compound sets to work suppressing cancer cell and tumor growth.

Phytate has been shown to stop the growth of

  • Human leukemia cells
  • Colon cancer cells
  • Estrogen receptor-positive and negative breast cancer cells
  • Cervical cancer
  • Voicebox cancer
  • Melanoma
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Liver tumors
  • Prostate cancer
  • Muscle cancers

Research suggests that phytate helps to prevent cancer across multiple pathways.

  • Phytic acid is an antioxidant with both anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting capabilities.  It helps enhance white blood cell and natural killer cell activity—the weapons the immune system uses to defend against cancer cells.
  • Phytic acid helps reduce angiogenesis—the formation of new blood vessels.  If a tumor can’t grow new blood vessels, then it can’t grow larger than 1 centimeter.  By reducing angiogenesis, phytate essentially cuts off the lifelines of cancerous tumors.
  • Phytic acid triggers detox differentiation, which means that cancer cells stop behaving malignantly and start mimicking the structure and activity of normal cells.  Studies have shown that colon cancer cells, breast cancer cells, leukemia cells, prostate cancer cells, and muscle cancer cells can all mature structurally and behaviorally into normal-behaving cells through differentiation.

     Findings show that phytic acid can also help defend against kidney stones and heart disease by lowering blood cholesterol levels.

But Isn’t Phytate an Anti-Nutrient?

The pros and cons of phytate are definitely a topic of discussion in nutrition circles.  You see, phytate binds to minerals like calcium and iron and can inhibit mineral absorption.  However, unless you eat a diet extremely deficient in nutrients and high in phytates (from legumes, grains, and seeds), then your body’s bioavailabilty of minerals is probably not affected.  This tends to be of concern in developing areas of South America and India where there’s a dearth in varied nutritious foods.

Our bodies are equipped to balance phytate levels through uptake in the gut and excretion as long as we eat a balanced diet.  That means plenty of grains, beans, nuts, seeds, protein sources, vegetables, and fruits.  Keep in mind not all grains are the same.  Refined grains, like white rice for instance, have been stripped of phytic acid bran.  Experts recommend sticking with whole and wheat grains to benefit from the cancer-fighting powers of phyate.