Oat powder -- shouldn't raw starches be cooked before eating?


#1

Continuing the discussion from Please review and criticize my new entirely Amazon-based formula:

Thanks @m_axiomatic Matthew! I’ve been rather puzzled to see so many folks valiantly trying to choke down raw oat powder. Granted that cereal grain flours are a major source of carbohydrates in our society, still it seems to be generally accepted that flour of any kind is indigestible as it comes from the miller and needs to be cooked for several reasons: flavour, mouth feel, general acceptability and above all digestibility!

Whether you call it flour or powder AFAIK it’s the same thing. If there’s supposed to be any functional difference between oat powder and oat flour I’m unaware of it; if anyone has seen a discussion explaining the difference, I’d appreciate a link.

So yes – it’s a whole lot nicer when you cook it, isn’t it! :smiley: My own food-based soylent includes oat, buckwheat and spelt flours; it’s flavoured by those and by banana, molasses, cocoa and peanut butter and it’s absolutely delicious. I just don’t see why soylent needs to be something that you hold your nose and chug it just to get outside of it. No one is likely to stick with something like that long term.

I don’t know whether anyone manufactures a precooked, phytate-free dehydrated oatmeal product; I suspect not, or if so it would probably be fairly expensive. That might be something @rob Rob&Co. could look at in the future if they could find a processor/manufacturer willing to undertake its development.


Basic question about oat and rice flours/powders
How to remove phytic acid?
#2

I’ve been using 100g of oat flour and have no noticed any ill effects or even any taste issues from the flour. I mix it with water 12 hours before I start consuming it (mix up the batch at night for the next day).


#3

People seem to vary quite a lot in their sensitivity and reactions to particular foodstuffs. I seem to be blessed with a cast-iron constitution, not much ever upsets my digestion; perhaps that’s also the case with you, Andrew, in which case you should count yourself fortunate. As we see on a couple other threads here, some folks are having problems with the oats that can probably be resolved with cooking.


Oats in (a) Soylent official and (b) DIY soylent recipes
#4

That makes sense. Having to cook the oat flour really hurts it as a viable ingredient in a low-fuss mix. If it starts to require as much effort as cooking, I might as well prepare ‘real food’ meals.


#5

Quick thought; do you think the variation can be pinned down by manufacturer? From what I’ve gleamed, the Red Mill oat flour has a much more course texture than the Oat Powder available from muscle fitness company (both on amazon).


#6

I wouldn’t think that the particle size by itself is going to make a dramatic difference in digestibility or in mitigating stomach upset. Raw starch is raw starch. As the paleo-diet people keep reminding us, we weren’t eactly evolved to eat cereal grains in the first place. A lot of more primitive societies go to great lengths in processing carbs prior to eating them, I’m talking about lengthy soaking and fermentation. It looks as though long empirical experience among tribal peoples convinced them that eating raw starch is a bad idea. So I think that cooking cereal starches probably represents minimal acceptable processing and that ingesting cereal flours – or “powders” if you want to make that distinction for the more finely-milled products – in raw form is just asking for digestive problems. I can’t prove that, but I regard it as the safest assumption for us to make.


#7

According to Muscle Feast, they soak and cook the oats as part of the manufacturing process. And exerpt:

Following the hulling operation, groats are conditioned to make an edible food product from a raw grain. In the conditioning process, moisture content is increased before the groats pass through a kiln, where they are heated using dry heat radiators to a temperature of approximately 215° F.

During the heating process, lipase and other enzymes that lead to rancidity are deactivated, flavor is enhanced, starch gelatinization occurs, and moisture level is reduced to a point acceptable for product storage.

I just received my tub, and havent tried it yet, but will be mixing with Waxy Maize starch, Malto, and Psyllium.


#8

Thanks for posting that info, Ryan. Interesting. However, I suspect they are making a big deal out of something that’s pretty much standard oatmeal practice. I don’t see anything there that would indicate they have dealt with the phytates (the kilning, unfortunately, may only destroy what phytase the oats initially had, making the situation worse not better). Oatmeal sold by grocers for breakfast cereal, whether “quick” oats or “slow” oats (as I understand it the only difference there is that slow oats are a larger, slightly thicker flake), are always steamed and then kilned, for exactly the reason given in your quote – to ensure adequate shelf life by reducing rancidity factors.

So I would suspect (although I can’t prove it) that there is little functional difference in the end between this product and what you would get by grinding Quaker Oats or a similar supermarket product to a powder in a coffee mill or VitaMix (which is what I have done at home for oat powder).

[The Ramiel Nagel article][1] (links to which I’ve already posted a couple of times, sorry for the repetitions but it’s highly relevant here) insists that the preprocessing and the subsequent cooking by the consumer does little to alter the phytate content of oats without more demanding measures such as sprouting, sour soaking, and even fermentation:

Not all grains contain enough phytase to eliminate the phytate, even when properly prepared. For example, corn, millet, oats and brown rice do not contain sufficient phytase to eliminate all the phytic acid they contain. On the other hand, wheat and rye contain high levels of phytase—wheat contains fourteen times more phytase than rice and rye contains over twice as much phytase as wheat.30 Soaking or souring these grains, when freshly ground, in a warm environment will destroy all phytic acid. The high levels of phytase in rye explain why this grain is preferred as a starter for sourdough breads.

Phytase is destroyed by steam heat at about 176 degrees Fahrenheit in ten minutes or less. In a wet solution, phytase is destroyed at 131-149 degrees Fahrenheit.31 Thus heat processing, as in extrusion, will completely destroy phytase—think of extruded all-bran cereal, very high in phytic acid and all of its phytase destroyed by processing. Extruded cereals made of bran and whole grains are a recipe for digestive problems and mineral deficiencies!

Phytase is present in small amounts in oats, but heat treating to produce commercial oatmeal renders it inactive. Even grinding a grain too quickly or at too high a temperature will destroy phytase, as will freezing and long storage times. Fresh flour has a higher content of phytase than does flour that has been stored.32 Traditional cultures generally grind their grain fresh before preparation. Weston Price found that mice fed whole grain flours that were not freshly ground did not grow properly.33

Cooking is not enough to reduce phytic acid—acid soaking before cooking is needed to activate phytase and let it do its work. For example, the elimination of phytic acid in quinoa requires fermenting or germinating plus cooking (see Figure 3). In general, a combination of acidic soaking for considerable time and then cooking will reduce a significant portion of phytate in grains and legumes.

More specific information about oats and phytate:

Oats contain very little phytase, especially after commercial heat treatment, and require a very long preparation period to completely reduce phytic acid levels. Soaking oats at 77 degrees F for 16 hours resulted in no reduction of phytic acid, nor did germination for up to three days at this temperature.63 However, malting (sprouting) oats for five days at 52 degrees F and then soaking for 17 hours at 120 degrees F removes 98 percent of phytates. Adding malted rye further enhances oat phytate reduction.64 Without initial germination, even a five-day soaking at a warm temperature in acidic liquid may result in an insignificant reduction in phytate due to the low phytase content of oats. On the plus side, the process of rolling oats removes a at least part of the bran, where a large portion of the phytic acid resides.

Apparently some oat cereal products from the old country may not have had their phytase destroyed by heat processing:

Unprocessed Irish or Scottish oats, which have not been heated to high temperatures, are availabile in some health food stores and on the internet. One study found that unheated oats had the same phytase activity as wheat.65 They should be soaked in acidulated water for as long as twenty-four hours on top of a hot plate to keep them at about 100 degrees F. This will reduce a part of the phytic acid as well as the levels of other anti-nutrients, and result in a more digestible product. Overnight fermenting of rolled oats using a rye starter—or even with the addition of a small amount of fresh rye flour—may result in a fairly decent reduction of phytate levels. It is unclear whether heat-treated oats are healthy to eat regularly.

I cope with these uncertainties as best I can by always adding buckwheat groats or rye flakes to my hot cereal mix and giving the mix a good long soak in warm water with added lemon juice or yoghourt whey, prior to cooking. I wish I had an easy means of controlling the temperature; my crock pot unfortunately gets everything a little too hot even on its “keep warm” setting, so the mix gets cooked rather than soaked.
[1]: http://www.westonaprice.org/food-features/living-with-phytic-acid


#9

Thanks for that clarification, JJ. It seems, at least for me, that most at home preparations of oats (in order to reduce phytates) negate the convenience of the soylent recipe. For the moment, I’ll have to accept it - and maybe lean more towards other starches and saccharides.


#10

I have a refrigerator. Storing cooked grain is no harder than storing powders. I’m planning to do a ‘test weekend’ using ingredients at hand, to see how my brain and gut will handle this stuff - I’ve done all sorts of weird dietary things in past and I know that my brain rebels if it’s too nasty, weird, or complex.

I have stone ground oats. I plan to do the soak step, possibly with some wheat added to boost the enzymes, then (saving the soaking liquid) cook the mess, let it cool down, and blend it with some organic baby peas, a bit of honey, some blueberries (I’m not giving amounts because I don’t know them yet) and then mix it with my protein powder, olive oil, lemon fish oil, greek yogurt, and water. I’ll pick the amounts by spreadsheet. I also take a daily multi (diabetic focus) so I’ll not worry too hard. I can add an egg for extra sulphur once or twice a week if that seems to be an issue. I’ll also look for what I can do about balancing the calcium and potassium better.

Honestly, a pre-cooking step that requires minimal interaction once a week, and storing the result in the fridge, I see little loss of convenience over powder mixing. I’ll measure the dry oats for a set number of days, so it won’t be a problem dividing it up.


#11

I’m skeptical that phytic acid is even this much of a concern. Many people eat 100 g of oats daily without ill effects. I think we may be making a mountain out of a molehill here.


#12

I wish I could agree, Andrew, but unfortunately I can’t. Here’s why: nutritional issues that might be of minimal concern in a varied diet can be quite serious when the dietary input is not varied. Everything in soylent needs to be vetted and cleared three times over, because people are being encouraged to consider it the foundation of their diet, or their default setting, or whatever. If even a few people wind up relying on soylent for 90% or more of their dietary intake, then every single ingredient needs to be scrutinised for possible adverse consequences when consumed as an exclusive source of whatever nutrient it may be providing. People have been talking about up to 400 grams of oat powder – daily – indefinitely – to the exclusion of all other grains and all other carbs save maltodextrin. In that light, I just don’t see how one can responsibly brush the phytic acid issue off as making a mountain out of a molehill. Phytic acid inhibits not just one but three vital enzymes in the digestive system, and binds half a dozen essential minerals. How can that not be an issue when it’s consumed daily in significant quantities?


#13

Phytic acid has a huge molar mass. 660 g/mol. If phytic acid is 2% of oats by mass, then in 400g, we’re talking about 1.2x10^-3 mol of phytic acid. Assuming it is perfectly reactive, that is enough to bind half a gram of calcium.

Furthermore, oats don’t have much more phytic acid by mass than peanuts (including peanut butter), almonds, or most forms of soy. Why is oat singled out as requiring substantial elimination of phytic acid? There’s substantial amounts of phytic acid in many of the foods that people eat, in large quanities, and without apparent ill effects.

Our gut fauna are capable of producing phytase, which can ameliorate phytate’s antinutrient properties.

In sum, I don’t see where you’ve made the case that the quantities of phytase that we’re talking about here (in Soylent discussions) poses a significant concern to health/nutrition. Absent that, it sounds like fear mongering. 100 g might be harmful, but the 2-5 g most people are probably eating could well be harmless.


#14

Oats aren’t being “singled out” in respect of phytic acid; we are talking about oats because oat powder is a major soylent ingredient. I know it’s in many, many plant products: nuts, peanut butter, cocoa powder, lentils, beans and more. That is why it bothers me; it does rather tend to add up. (Oxalates are another worrisome antinutrient, and they are found in large quantities in all sorts of otherwise “healthy” vegetables, especially my beloved wild greens like lambs-quarters (Chenopodium album, which I just ate a pile of this evening); oxalates are hard on the kidneys. But that is another story.)

“Without substantial ill effects” – an unproven assertion, Andrew. How do you know? Where’s the control group, since everyone is eating these standard dietary items? Phytic acid is implicated in tooth decay and bone demineralisation – are you telling me that everyone in this society has perfect teeth and that there are no problems with osteoporosis? Just because everyone eats these things but people aren’t apparently dying from ingesting phytic acid doesn’t mean there is no problem. I don’t think the possibility that there is a pervasive problem here has been seriously addressed, just because it is so pervasive – to take it seriously would set our agricultural, food-processing, nutritional and medical industries at sixes and sevens. So it just gets accepted and minimalised, pooh-poohed as a “crank” concern. We do that with lots of things in this society.

I don’t think it is fear-mongering to raise a legitimate concern that isn’t being seriously addressed. Rather it’s the opposite. Why is it that I am fear-mongering? I’m merely pointing out that it is a known risk factor, that it is strongly present in the oat powder with no mitigating phytase, and that in a rigid formulaic diet like soylent all potential risk factors of specific ingredients need to be seriously scrutinised. I am counseling prudence and responsibility with an eye to what we may be doing to people’s nutrition. I am saying we need to be a little more responsible with soylent than Abbott is with their Ensure Plus, with its sugar, corn oil, canola oil ingredients. (They are not the only ones; the Nestlé products, too, are full of the same cheap stuff – supposedly safe because it’s so universally in use by food manufacturers, and so universally used because it’s so profitable all round for everyone. The almighty buck justifies anything in this society; as long as somebody’s making a killing from it, it’s beyond criticism. If you question any of that you are stigmatised as a danger to the economy!) I think we need to adhere to a higher ethical standard than Nestlé and Abbott. So call me a crank.


#15

Yabbut, what is the acceptable dose below which you are not concerned? Soylent also contains heavy metals, like mercury, which are known neurotoxins. It’s the dose that matters!

Phytate is an issue orthogonal to Soylent. You’re consuming phytates in roughly the same proportion whether you eat Soylent or a varied diet. So if you will swear off a Soylent formulation contaminated with phytate-containing oat flour, do you also swear off nuts, beans, soy, and other grains? There aren’t many humans out there for whom these do not comprise a significant portion of their diet.


#16

@andrewf, just to advocate for the devil here, while I agree that dose is important, we are missing one rather large datum: What is the actual dose of phytate normally ingested by the statistical-boojum “average person” over the course of a few days? That’d be something to look at vs. soylent-with-oats to see if there’s more or less, and how significantly.

And once we have that info, then we can start comparing against the outliers who don’t have that high a dose, or who have higher, and look for those hypothesized (or already known) indicators of problems. Do we HAVE an LD50 for Phytate? Do we have a known clearance rate that lets us know how much we can do over time without building up to the (usually much lower) toxic/damaging levels?

Until that happens, it’s kind of meaningless to argue too hard about it because there’s no solid data to back up either assertion.


#17

Yabbut what difference does it make, since no one is even considering reducing the dose! Of course it’s the dose of anything, of everything, that matters. I would have thought that we would be concentrating on so configuring soy lent that it would be quite difficult for anyone to die of “an overdose of soylent”! But perhaps that isn’t the case.

Phytate isn’t orthogonal to anything; it’s just sitting there in all its grand symmetrical splendour doing what its molecular structure obliges it to do. The only thing orthogonal around here tonight is the mental attitude being displayed. I’m not “swearing off” anything. I’m urging that we look at each and every component ingredient of official soylent with a view to being sure that it is the best and least harmful one for the intended purpose. Naive me, I thought we were trying to make soylent an improvement over the SAD “Standard American Diet.” Wasn’t that one of the major ideas Rob started out with? If not then where’s the point of continuing with this – Nestlé and Abbott have already done Junk Soylent better than we could. *Primum non nocere" should be applied in full to soylent. Aren’t the Big Food and Big Pharma companies doing enough damage as it is, without us contributing?

Personally FWIW I consume little soy and few nuts; my beans now get sprouted and sour-soaked before cooking. I don’t eat oats by themselves any more – only with buckwheat or rye, and I’m still working on the soaking routine to improve its efficacy. If I could get whole hulless oats, I would sprout them and use them for all my oat applications; I’m working on that, too. Peanut butter is beyond my control unfortunately. Wish I didn’t love it so. On fait qu’on peut.;

Very early in this forum someone asked whether soylent would be an improvement over the SAD by virtue of what it included, or by virtue of what it didn’t include. I believe that is still a highly relevant question; and that’s what I was trying to discuss here. Sorry if it pushed your buttons.


#18

Excellent. That’s what I mean by taking it seriously. You don’t take something like this seriously until you begin to ask the right questions; then, if they can’t be answered, more data need to be accumulated.

That said, though, I suspect an LD50 would be of very limited value. Those are usually determined with rodents and I can’t imagine rodent studies would tell us, anything worth knowing about human digestion and phytates. Rats and mice are born gramnivores, after all; we are not, really, although we have been evolving in that direction since the rise of agriculture. But yes, solid data are needed. (Ramiel Nagel would probably know what studies have been done, at least.)


#19

I soaked (overnight) and cooked(4min in microwave) 45g of oats for my soylent today. I still had a fair amount of gas but the bloating and other side effects werent as bad as they normally are. Its encouraging but still uncomfortable for me to have it on a daily basis. Tomorrow will be oats free to see how i go. My drink will be very low carbs as I’m only having 100g of maltodextrin butwill look at adding cooked white jasmin rice as a carbs source.


#20

The fact that you consume the same amount of phytates in a ‘varied diet’ isn’t at all relevant. Bandwagon fallacy (sorry to be that fella ;)).

Is there actually any decent science on the topic either way? (isn’t something I have time to look into atm personally unfortunately as I am looking into the soy / hormone issue, which btw is quite interesting). But it seems to me we need to start looking at actual science to get somewhere with this topic.