Should You Soak Your Grains?

Soaking grains might help you absorb more nutrients but is it really worth the trouble?

Monica Reinagel, M.S.,L.D./N
4-minute read
Episode #56

Hi Monica, this is Christina. I was wondering about the benefits of soaking grains before you use them. I have heard people go so far as to say that you shouldn’t use grains without soaking them because you don’t get the full benefit. I’m wondering whether I need to go to all that trouble?

I’m guessing that many of you listening are staring at your iPods or computers with big cartoon question marks over your heads right about now. This might be the first you’ve ever heard about the hazards of eating unsoaked grains. But I’ve actually gotten questions about this from several listeners. So, let’s dive in.

Should You Soak Your Grains?

 First, a bit of background: The so-called “cereal grains” (wheat, corn, barley, rice, and oats) all contain a natural compound called phytic acid. Dried beans, nuts, and seeds also contain phytic acid. Let's pause for a moment to look at a chart showing you the phytic acid content of some common foods. You’ll see that, as a rule, beans and nuts are higher in phytic acid than cereal grains.


Percent phytic acid
(by dry weight)

Polished rice

0.14 -0.6

Whole wheat bread

0.43 - 1.05


0.38 - 1.16


0.42 -1.16

Wheat flour

0.25 - 1.37


0.39 - 1.35


0.54 - 1.46

Oat bran

0.6 - 1.42

Kidney beans

0.89 - 1.57


1.05 - 1.76


0.75 - 2.22


1.0 - 2.22

Oat Meal

0.78 - 2.4

Soy flour

1.24 - 2.25


1.46 - 2.9


2.15 - 2.78

Source: REDDY, N. R. and SATHE, S. K. (2002). Food Phytates. Boca Raton, CRC Press.

In all cases, the phytic acid is concentrated in the hull or bran. If you remove the hull, you remove most of the phytic acid, too. White rice, for example, is much lower in phytic acid than brown rice.