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How To Reduce Phytic Acid In Overnight Oats

How To Reduce Phytic Acid In Overnight Oats
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Trying to eat healthily often leads to multiple points of confusion in this day and age. Every week we hear about a new “superfood” or maybe that a previous one isn’t as great as once touted to be.

I strongly advocate listening to new advice and giving it a try for yourself to see how your body reacts. Allow your body to tell you what’s right and whats wrong in each equation.

So, how do you reduce phytic acid in overnight oats? The best way to eliminate phytic acid in oats is to soak them in liquid with a splash of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice for 12 to 16 hours.

However, we are all different! While one person may benefit from a low-carb diet, the other person may experience an adverse reaction. 

Even though I love to eat overnight oats every day, that does not always guarantee the same circumstance for others. 

If you curl up in pain the minute you go near soaked oats, then phytic acid may be one of the oat side effects to blame. Here are a few ways you can improve your digestion of this enzyme without having to restrict yourself too much.

What are overnight oats?

Make overnight oats by soaking oats in liquid following a basic overnight oats ratio of 1½:1 liquid to oats. The soaking is usually done overnight so that the phytic acid dissipates and no cook oatmeal is ready to eat the very next day.

Steel cut oats, rolled oats or quick oats are generally available in every market, however they are not the only kinds. Rolled oats are best type for overnight oats, but there are recipes using the other kinds too.

Overnight oats can be made with water, almond milk, oat milk or really any liquid you enjoy

I have been dedicated to exploring a wide range of overnight oats recipes, which allowed me to play around with no cook oatmeal flavors like blueberry muffin, caffè mocha and pumpkin spice latte.

With all the wild combinations available, I generally stick to the same basic formula: old-fashioned oats, chia seeds, dairy free milk, nut butter, berries and a pinch of salt.

When I add nuts, chia seeds, or protein powder, I always increase the liquid to oats ratio to 2:1, otherwise I follow the basic overnight oats ratio. This is because the mix-ins will absorb additional moisture so the ratio needs to compensate.

Are overnight oats good for you?

In relation to the phrase, “you are what you eat,” well yes overnight oats are healthy. The fact of the matter resides in the overall benefits of oats, and the vessel of transport for nutritious superfood ingredients and toppings.

Oats offer healthy fats, plant based protein and both soluble and insoluble fiber. Beta-glucan is a soluble fiber present in oats that has been proven to be good for weight loss.

When comparing overnight oats to cooked oatmeal, it seems that soaking oats is more nutrias because they have had a chance to ferment. The fermentation process allows the growth of beneficial bacteria that help the gut microflora present in the digestive tract.

With all the health goals, it must noted that overnight oats is a vehicle that often includes a wide range of additions. Stay away from adding excess sugar, extremely high fats and overly process ingredients, then the meal prep will remain wholesome, hearty and packed with nutrition.

What is phytic acid?

Phytic acid is a unique natural substance found in many cereal grains, oil seeds, legumes and nuts.

Phytic acid reduces the ability for your body to absorb iron, zinc and calcium, which can inevitably lead to mineral deficiencies if left unchecked [1]. 

As a result, phytic acid is often referred to as an anti-nutrient. 

Although it can potentially impair the absorption rate of essential minerals, this is often not the case for those following a balanced diet.

There are a number of health benefits of phytic acid. Therefore, as with most things in life this tends to be more complicated that initially thought.

Can you reduce phytic acid in oats?

Bowl of overnight oats with almonds and berries on top

Avoiding all foods that contain phytic acid is not recommended because a majority of them are actually healthy and nutritious. 

Furthermore, many people that stick to vegan and vegetarian diets rely on grain, legumes and nuts as a source of plant-based protein, which is an essential part of a balanced diet.

There are several preparation methods that allow us to successful reduce the amount of phytic acid in foods, including oats. Cooking is one of the easiest ways to reduce the about of phytic acid in oats, but that defeats the point of overnight oats.

Soaking, sprouting and fermentation are the most common methods to reduce phytic acid without cooking [2].

To successfully sprout oats, you would have to soak the oat groats or whole kernels. 

Furthermore, fermentation would likely transition into subjects like beer making, bread making or food preservation methods like kimchi, which uses a slight amount of rice flour to help thicken the sauce to better coat the vegetables.

As a result, this leaves us with soaking. There are many types of oats, but rolled oats are most commonly used for this technique.

It is a common misconception that rolled oats are a raw food, but this is not the case.

Rolled oats are steamed before being rolled in large mills so that they don’t crack under the pressure of the large rollers, therefore they are partially cooked in the process.

Best way to reduce phytic acid in overnight oats

Even though you soak the oats while making overnight oats, you are still consuming the soaking water that contains the phytic acid.

After doing more research about the soaking oats, I realized that there are two ways to supercharge your soaked oats and  successfully neutralize or reduce the phytic acid in your soaked oats.

Soak and drain: This is the most efficient way to remove the phytic acid. Add sufficient amount of water to allow your oats to soak overnight without fully absorbing all of the liquid. The next day, drain the remaining liquid and rinse the oats before mixing with your favorite add-ins and toppings.

Neutralize the phytic acid: Soaking oats overnight with a splash of fresh lemon juice or apple cider vinegar will help to neutralize the phytic acid within the soaking liquid. As a result, you can consume the soaked oats and your body is able to activate the digesting enzymes that absorb the available minerals.

If you want to make your breakfast porridge truly healthy, then soak your oats overnight in either water with a pinch of salt and drain the liquid the next day, or make a bircher muesli containing oats soaked overnight in natural yogurt, grated apple and lemon juice.

The next day, add oatmeal toppings like honey, cinnamon, nuts, dried fruits, coconut and berries.

How to reduce phytic acid in overnight oats

Phytic Acid In Overnight Oats: Final Thoughts

Overnight oats have beee around for a long time, and have no intention on disappearing anytime soon. With the endless flavor combinations, toppings and mix-ins available, there are countless reasons why you need to add this superfood packed meal prep to your regular routine.

Even though rolled oats are not raw, they have not been steamed or cooked for long enough to eliminate the phytic acid naturally present in the oat. Therefore, it is important to takeceutain precautions to minimize the exposure.

Soaking the oats in liquid for a minimum of 12 hours helps to expel the phytic acid from the oats. Draining and rinsing will wash away the most, however that will also take some of the essential nutrients along with it.

The best way to reduce phytic acid in oats is by soaking the oats with a splash of acid to help neutralize the ph level. Add apple cider vinegar or lemon juice to the soaking liquid and you will have a delicious batch of no cook oatmeal that is ready to quench your hunger the very next day.

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Saturday 13th of February 2021

Hi there - great article. This has probably already been covered, but soaking overnight with a splash of lemon will make the oats far more digestible, correct? Then in the morning I could stir in the add ins. Is there a strong taste from the lemon juice?

Joshua Bruck

Saturday 13th of February 2021

Hello Sandy, There should not be an overly strong taste of lemon juice. In fact, many ingredients pair quite well with lemon flavor to create classic flavor combinations. Here are some lemon overnight oats recipes for you to get an idea. Regards, Joshua

sowmyashree shetty

Wednesday 10th of February 2021

Thankyou for explaining in detail. I have 2 questions: Do I need to keep oats mixed in water and acv in fridge through the night? If draining is not required, can I not add all the required ingredients at night itself like nuts, chia seeds, fruits along with water and acv. Many recipes have listed vegan yogurt and not acv so can I substitute acv with soy or other vegan yogurt.

sowmyashree shetty

Wednesday 10th of February 2021

@Joshua Bruck, Thanks a lot really. I soaked my oats in water and acv yesterday night so today if I got to follow your banana peanut butter oats recipe, I may just add all other wet ingredients to my overnight soaked oats, right? Also, you mentioned above you prefer adding mix in ingredients at night itself so is it a good idea to follow your banana peanut butter recipe as it is with addition of acv and water and keeping it in refrigerator through the night.

Joshua Bruck

Wednesday 10th of February 2021

Thank you for reaching out. Let me address you questions one at a time. in regards to whether or not overnight oats need to be refrigerated, that would be a matter of personal opinion. Fermentation is one of the oldest food preservation methods, so leaving oats mixed with water and a splash of acv for one evening is only going to activate the fermentation process. I prefer adding the mix-in ingredients when I make overnight oats, and occasionally I add fresh oatmeal toppings just before serving. "Many recipes," ya that's a problem right there. Overnight oats recipes are designed for taste, not for the goal of reducing phytic acid that is naturally present in whole grain oats. In my understanding, the addition of yogurt is not interchangeable with the acv. Yogurt does not offer the same acidity that is present in the acv, therefore they are not substitutes for reducing the phytic acid. Please let me know if this answers your questions. Warmly, Joshua


Thursday 28th of January 2021

I've been using lemon juice, but Is the acid in orange juice enough to neutralize phytic acid in overnight oats? I was thinking of making a smoothie in the morning with it, and it would make preparing the oatmeal easier. Thank you

Joshua Bruck

Friday 29th of January 2021

Hello Jose, Great question! According to this article from the National Institute of Health, lemon juice has 5 times more citric acid than fresh squeezed orange juice. This would explain why we can drink oj straight, but need to dilute lemon juice because it is too sour. Hope this answers your question fully. Be sure to check out my oatmeal smoothie recipes for more flavor inspirations! Regards, Joshua

Theresa Graves

Tuesday 12th of January 2021

How does the addition of lemon juice or acv remove phytic acid?

Joshua Bruck

Tuesday 12th of January 2021

Hello Theresa, Soaking oats overnight with a splash of fresh lemon juice or apple cider vinegar will help to neutralize the phytic acid naturally present in the oats. Therefore, the soaked oats are more easily digested and your digestive enzymes can absorb the available minerals.


Thursday 10th of December 2020

You mentioned bircher muesli, soaking the oatmeal in yogurt. I do this all the time, stirring oatmeal into a bowl of yogurt adding blueberries and Chia seeds in the morning. Then I have it for lunch. Does this eliminate the problem? Thank you, great info!,


Friday 11th of December 2020

@Joshua Bruck, Thank you for you explanation!

Joshua Bruck

Thursday 10th of December 2020

Hello Nancy, Do you soak the muesli in the yogurt overnight? If so, then that is how I understand the process. The acid in the yogurt helps to neutralize the phytic acid, although some of it remains in the muesli because the meal prep remains uncooked. As long as the oats are soaked overnight in an acidic solution, the phytic acid is neutralized and there should be nothing to worry about.