Thursday, July 21, 2011

Whole Grains: How to Love Them Part UNO

Hi gang!

As promised, I'm bringing you more (hopefully) helpful information about whole grain eating.  Everything I bring up in this four part series is reflective of the way I bake.  I'm not just rewording old wikipedia articles here!

A post or two ago, I introduced the concept of phytates and phytic acid.  Today, I'm going to give you a super fast, super simple explanation of why phytates exist. 

The super fast, super simple reason:  Plants need them. 

Now, for a slightly less fast, slightly more complex on!

Phytic acid is an enzyme inhibitor - we'll talk more about that soon - it's also an insect inhibitor. 

That's right!  Plants grow stuff that keeps the bugs away, leaving them to grow another day.  So phytates are a survival tool...and when you're alive but inanimate and non-sentient, it's important to have something fighting for you!

Phytates are also what keeps seeds and such from going to sprout prematurely.  When phytic acid is neutralized, wheat berries sprout.  Without it, it would be like the plant version of 16 and Pregnant. 

Phytates help seeds know when the time is right.  (You know, like a guidance counselor or a helpful parent or Dr. Phil.)  A seed wouldn't sprout in a drought, right?  It would never survive to plant-adulthood and have sprouts of it's own if it did that! 

photo credit
So the phytates keep things under control until the environment is right - nice and warm and a little damp.  That's the nuclear-family version of wheat berry reproduction...ideal! 

So...that's lesson one:  What phytates do in whole grains.

Tune in next time, when you'll hear Cousin Amy say:

"What do phytates do in our bodies???"

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