Why It’s VERY Important To Soak Oats Before You Eat Them

Why It’s VERY Important To Soak Oats Before You Eat Them

oatsA friend of mine recently had a blood test for mineral deficiency, and it turns out that she’s deficient in vitamin b12. This surprised me because she has an incredibly healthy diet. But what the naturopath told her completely took me by surprise. She was told that the oatmeal she was eating each morning was possibly blocking the production of Vitamin b12 in her body!

You must soak oats for several hours before you eat them

It’s really, really important to soak your oats for several hours before you eat them, whether or not you end up cooking them. Somehow this knowledge of having to soak oats got lost about the same time fast food came in. I guess we all just got a bit lazy and we didn’t understand why we were soaking them in the first place.

Ever since people first started eating oats, they either soaked or fermented them first. And when oats were first packaged and sold in grocery stores, there were even soaking instructions on the box. You never see that anymore.

Why oats need to be soaked

Here’s an extract from Nourishing Traditions which explains the reason why oats need to be soaked better than I could -

All grains contain phytic acid (an organic acid in which phosphorous is bound) in the outer layer or bran. Untreated phytic acid can combine with calcium, magnesium, copper, iron especially zinc in the intestinal track and block their absorption. This is why a diet high in unfermented whole grains may led to serious mineral deficiencies and bone loss. The modern misguided practice of consuming large amounts of unprocessed bran often improves colon transit time at first but may lead to irritable bowel syndrome and, in the long term, many other adverse effects. Soaking allows enzyme, lactobacilli and other helpful organisms to break down and neutralize phytic acid. As little as seven hours of soaking in warm acidulated water will neutralize a large portion of phytic acid in grains. The simple practice of soaking cracked or rolled cereal grains overnight will vastly improve their nutritional benefits.

I see a lot of conversation in acne forums about grains and how grains can make the skin a lot worse. It kind of makes a lot of sense to me now. A diet high in unsoaked or unfermentated grains can in fact lead to mineral deficiency and irritable bowel syndrome so it’s no wonder that our skin is better once we stop eating them. And lets be realistic – who here soaks and ferments all their grains? Not me.

Interestingly, the Body Ecology Diet only allows for a small number of grains, and recommends soaking the grains before eating or cooking them. And since that book is all about cleaning out the colon and improving the digestive system, it just proves again how important it is to soak grains, or at least your oats before you eat them.

So from now on, I’m going to soak my oats in water each night before I go to bed!

127 comments… add one

  • I consume a tons of Quaker’s instant oats after cooking them on the stove top or in the microwave with either milk or water. Does this destroy the phytic acid or is it still bad for me? I never soak the oats. Should I?

  • Charles

    Quite simply there is NO need to cook or even soak oats. Not only is the science for soaking unconvincing (http://terrepruitt.com/2012/04/03/no-need-to-soak-your-oats/) but look at the enormous historical evidence. Scots soldiers used to carry raw oats and mix them with water for meals, highland farmers used to live off unsoked oats all their lives, body builders, horses and many species of animals survive eating raw unsoaked oats.

  • Greg

    I can’t imagine too many of you HAVE to eat oats three times a day (or even daily).

    If you do HAVE to eat oats so often because you haven’t enough money to buy any other food, then I can understand why you are wasting so much time on this question. This is why I came here, and now I know that I will have to stop eating oats for sustenance.
    In the case of the majority of you, let me offer some wisdom; -Eat a balanced diet if you can afford it and don’t concern yourself obout minutia like this because you all know that if you drink three bottles of Diet Cola a day, it’s not healthy; ergo the same goes if you eat oats like a horse. One or three bowls of oats a week is not like smoking a pack of cigarettes a day. To the moderator: Now I think that you can close this string.

  • William Miller

    Quick oats do Not need to be soaked. They are steamed and redried before being packaged, removing the phytic acid. There’s a reason quick oats don’t say anything about soaking on the package. In fact, most oatmeal sold in the U.S. goes through this method. If you’re buying from a specialty company like Bob’s Red Mill, you’re likely to come across ‘raw’ oats, but anything bought at Walmart or similar is generally the same 1-minute oats.

  • Scott

    How is soaking different than cooking in water?
    Isn’t sufficient cooking in water, say with 10 to 15 minutes of cooking with adequate water, just speeded up soaking?

  • Roger

    I just started eating oatmeal and I bought the instant quick cook kind. Do I still have to soak it overnight before adding yogurt in the morning?

  • Bmax

    I’m now going to soak my oats overnight, but am wondering if you don’t soak the oats and drink lemon water and take 500mg of vitamin C while eating your cooked, unsmoked oats, will this help neutralize the phytic acid in your tummy?


  • Hi,

    Can we prepare oats in skimmed milk at breakfast time ?

  • Tamara

    I soaked my oats for the first time last night after seeing a recipe. My stomach feels so much better today! I don’t know how this ties in, I thought I’d look at the benefits of soaking and voila! Thanks so much :)

  • Jake

    This article had me worried for a minute, I eat raw oats every morning for the vast majority of my life (32 years of age, feeling great ;)
    If you look it up you will see that phytic acid is contained in a vast majority of natural products such for example seeds, nuts, beans and potato.
    You will also see that the concentration in oats as compared to other foods like Tofu, Linseed, Soy and Almonds etc. is not very high.
    And phytic acid is not all bad either, it has a antioxidant effect and is used to remove Uranium from your body ;)
    So I think this article is simply wrong, it is NOT VERY IMPORTANT to soak your oats… unless you live in a third world country!
    BTW, phytic acid is also known as the preservative E391.
    Have a healty life!

    • Kyle

      I recently spoke to a nutritional therapist and she said you should always soak your oats. Now after reading several articles the information does not seem conclusive. It really just seems like a waste of time given the amount of phytic acid and the fact it has benefits and drawbacks to consume. Why should I bother?

  • And to bring this up again,… what has been found with the adding of alkali(such as baking powder and salt) to cooking oats, in making oats more nutritious for human consumption?

  • People, address this question:
    In cooking oats as porridge, doesn’t the cooking in ample water(enough as appropriate for a finished cooked product) serve the same purpose as soaking,… and plus with the addition of an alkali such as baking powder (non-aluminum), to further counter phytic acid and such,… plus adding some salt after cooking, to taste. And then of course some dark grade maple syrup. Ahhh yessss….

    • Hi, Scott! Cooking your grains in ample water, rinsing, and draining will remove some of the chemical toxins (ex. arsenic in rice, pesticides in wheat) but it will not break down anti-nutrient factors like phytate and protease inhibitors. They are built into nuts, seeds, legumes, and grains to protect them until germination kicks in. If you can’t do overnight, and you’ve only got a few hours, soak them in really warm water (around 140f) and a little lemon juice for at least a couple hours. And if you really just don’t have any time, at least toast your oats on low-med heat until they start to become fragrant. Germination (sprouting) and fermentation is really the best way to eat grains, legumes, nuts and seeds but very few of us have the time and patience for it (myself included!). I hope that helps.

      • Thank you,…. and now address the issue of adding alkali, as is done with corn, how about the alkali addition with other grains.

        Btw, sprouted grains don’t work as well for me. Cooked(or just only cooked not fermented) and fermented grains I find better, as long as not over-fermented or over-cooked of course.

        And lemon juice? Naw.

        So, everyone, let’s address the issue of adding alkalis to grain processing, and we’re not just talking corn.

        I find it makes a positive difference to add baking powder to grains(non-aluminum) for the alkali content,… plus the addition of salt, – more alkali.

  • Tommie Slade

    Does it include soaking the steel cut oats too?

  • Alev

    Hello everyone,

    I just ate baked rolled oats with pumpkin, and I have been having digesting problems since. I found this site and guess what, I did not soak them!!!! And this was the first time I ate, so I knew it was the oats causing my problems. The bad part is, the recipe is from a registered dietician’s web site and she does not mention anything about soaking or other important info you guys mentioned. So thank you all for saving me from thinking that I am sick:)))

  • For oatmeal, I cook it in water, with about a teaspoon of baking powder, which only has monocalcium phosphate, potato starch, and potassium bicarbonate. Same with whole grain rice in my small simple rice cooker. Doing that usually makes the grains better to my senses and ‘response indicators’. Good thing. Only on occasion do I eat the grains.
    Corn tortillas also go through an alkalinizing/liming process-soaking-cooking.

    Why soak oats when what you’ll be doing is cooking them in water. Cooking is also speeded up soaking, besides the qualities unique to cooking.

  • Thanks for your comments. I started putting raw (uncooked) oatmeal in my protein drinks about a month ago and last week began having this HORRIBLE pain in my backside–lower right rear…felt like kidney or liver related…freaked the f_____ out of me ’cause I’m healthy as a horse! Well…last night I put “The Thumper” (the extraordinarily huge massage vibrating tool…old school…it looks like a hand sander) on my back and the lower right part of my tummy for about 15-20 minutes and VOILA…today my pain was almost gone! IOW I think I created a kind of blockage in my intestines by eating raw oatmeal! No more…Thank you Ms. Fran…


  • Steven Comis

    After the oats are soaked in water overnight can we eat this water filled with phytases, or do we dispose of it? Thanks!

  • Dave

    I think it’s kind of sad that no one on this site – which has a bit of an “expertise” claim to it doesn’t seem to be able to tell the difference between whole grains (which is what the quoted excerpt from “Nourishing Traditions” is all about), and processes grains, like “1-minute-oats.”

    Find out the difference and then you know why you should soak’em – the whole grains, that is.

  • I haven’t soaked oats before, I only eat oatmeal on occasion.
    But, if you soak it say seven hours or more, how does it cook up. I suppose the soaking would cause the oatmeal to soak up all the water.
    I noticed a dietitician, on their website, they soak the oatmeal in about equal parts of milk and yogurt overnight, and eat it without cooking the next morning. Other ingredients added in the soak include a bit of salt, chia seeds, banana, cinnamon,….

  • Sue

    Gee now you tell us… One less thing to do now…lol

  • lol

    u do know that most oats (unless stated as raw or steel-cut) are rolled AND STEAMED to get rid of the phytic acid that blocks vitamin absorption right? you should do more research before posting as many seem to follow your advice

    • Pat

      I agree. It is also my understanding that rolled oats are steamed so vitamin absorption is not an issue. Soaking is not necessary.

  • Emma

    Any update on whether to soak oatbran overnight too?

  • Cindy

    I love to eat my instant oatmeal uncooked and with milk. I believe this is causing bloating. Does soaking the oats do the same thing as cooking them? I miss eating oatmeal but can’t stand to eat it warm and mushy.

  • Lisa

    How do you go about drying out oats which have been soaked to be able to make granola, or any other flapjack type bars.
    I use these to fuel my long runs (currently don’t soak the oats at all – just combine them with melted butter, agave syrup, and cook them in the oven – I’m guessing these are full of phytates!!???).
    Thanks for any suggestions!!!

  • Sue

    Kim, talking about oats and wholegrains here… processed packaged grain foods would be impossible to soak. Just eat the nuts straight out of the packet…

  • susan

    Believe it or not, I used some 2% milk that had started to sour to soak my oats. Turned out great! Tender, tasty, and took so much less time.

  • Kim G

    Hi, I’m very new at this and a bit confused. I have a bad yeast infection that does not seem uncommon so I am trying to learn about fermenting( seems to make the good bacteria I need) and ran across this post.

    I have for the past 6 years have gone out of my way to buy bread, pasta, waffle mix, flour etc. that is labeled whole grain or whole wheat. Can I eat all of this as is? I can’t soak the bread of course. Soaking the pasta seem a bit odd as well as flour/waffle mix.

    Do I need to soak these things? If so, how would I go about it?

    Also, what in the world is sprouting?

    Oh, another question sorry. can you ferment with tap water? or will I have to get a water filter that filters out the chlorine and/or chloramine? I used a filter once and had to replace after a short time and it just got really expensive really fast. I know I don’t have the money.

    Sorry another one. I read that not only beans and oats but nuts also need to be soaked. What about the cans of cashews, peanuts etc. they sell at the store (ex. planters) do you need to soak those or are they ok? or like the nuts you buy in bulk (walnuts, nuts still in their shell) we used to just have a bowl of nuts with a nut cracker sitting beside it as an everyday thing.

  • SMK

    Hello,i usually soak oat with warm water in a glass over night approx 8hrs and drink it early morning…is this fine ?

  • Ty

    Hello, In the mornings I usually take about 2/3 cup oats, some almond butter, flaxseed, 1/2 banana, and some mixed berries, and 1 cup h20 and blend it up in my blender. After reading a few of these posts, I am wondering if what I am doing is fine. Since I am blending the oats and flaxseed with h20, is this fine?

  • Lauren

    Hi there. Do you have to rinse the oats? I eat mine at work so rinsing them might be annoying. Will all the bad stuff still be in them if I don’t? Also can I soak them in milk as that is what I cook them in?
    And can you soak them for a few days?

  • If the grain contains phytase, some of the mineral-binding phytic acid will be deactivated, but not much. And if the grain has been heat-treated, which destroys phytase, or it contains very little phytase to begin with, the phytic acid will remain completely intact. Overall, neither soaking nor sprouting deactivates a significant amount of phytate. For a link source on this just click my name.

  • Gavin

    Mixed messages. Phytic acid is present in all whole grains, not just oats. It is true that phytic acid binds calcium and iron, but phytic acid is good for you because it will also bind triglycerides and cholesterol. Removing the phytic acid removes an important health benefit of oats. Don’t cut out the oats, or soak them or ferment them: you are wasting your time. I recommend just supplementing calcium (milk or tinned sardines) and iron (eat a small amount of meat every day).

  • rahmah hassan

    i soak my rolled oats with skim milk in hot water (just boiled) abt 20 to 30 minutes or more when i forgot abt it ..then slowly eat it…it has improved my daily fitness, walking to my parking bay at level 4 is no issue ..i dnt cook as i have been advised by a friend(his doctor told him) to soak overnight with hot boiling water and eat it for breakfast (plain). in 8 mths he became thin and fit (from obese) ..so i was thinking it shd be ok not to cook..coz i hate standing at the stove stirring…

  • Jesse

    WOW! I have been eating raw oats for about 6 month, NOT no more, I will start soaking them every night. Thank you! What about the liquid that has not been absorbed by the steel cut oats? do I add the liquid to my smoothie or discard the left over liquid?

  • Joe

    I’ve been soaking the oats for two months because I prefer not to cook them and increase sugar content. But I have noticed there was some acidity so I began rinsing the oats.
    My recipe – 1/2 oats to 1-2 cups of water and stir – sit for 15 seconds and rinse, add more water, stir and rinse again. Finally, add luke warm water and rest for 5 minutes, stir, and then the final rinse. Add plenty of milk and strawberries or actually, I’ve been adding steamed cubed sweet potatoes – they are very sweet tasting in milk.

  • Michelle

    Is it also necessary to soak oat bran?

  • Hi Fran

    Is it necessary to soak Flaxseeds or can I just grind them in a coffee grinder?

    I’ve been reading that it isn’t necessary to soak them as they contain very little phytic acid. Is this correct?

  • Oats are best soaked in whey (liquid) or yogurt, which helps them ferment and neutralize the phytic acid. I don’t like oatmeal, so I used to soak my oats this way with only a small amount of water (just to make them damp) for about 18 hours, then dehydrate them. I’d use them in granola bars at that point. My kids loved it.

    Trust me, soaking/sprouting/sourdough’ing (is that a word?) of all grains really makes a difference. People don’t pay attention anymore because we’ve been tricked into thinking it’s not necessary. But look at all the gluten intolerance, IBS, and other problems we have! My kids don’t tolerate regular whole grains at all, but do okay on sprouted or soaked grains. (Although are even better off grains, as we are now.)

    And yes, I would highly recommend that everyone eat high-quality pastured meats, eggs, and raw milk from time to time for protein and B12. I totally understand wanting to avoid factory farmed meats (we do too), but especially if you need a lot of protein, including local, good meats is a very good idea.

  • adam

    you need to add in the article that the grain should be soaked with a fermenting agent, like yogurt, kefir, etc.

  • RL

    What about toasted oats / granola? (without added sugars of course) does roasting them get rid of the phytic acid ?

  • woh I love your articles , saved to fav! .

  • Hi:) I was just wondering if you can soak a couple days worth at a time (oats) and keep them in the fridge in order to save some time? I’m just learning about all of this, so it’s prety new to me! Our family is vegan, including my 1 year old, so this seems like an important step to start taking!

  • KK

    Fran, what if you are a sportsman and you want the slow digestion from the oats, surely soaking them means that they digest quicker and therefore releases the energy quicker, ie high GI

  • Taryn

    Hey, thanks for the info :). I do wonder about pasta though…. I eat whole grain brown rice pasta because I try to stay away from gluten (it’s very sticky and inhibits nutrient absorbtion in the intestines) and I’m wondering if I should soak the pasta first??

  • jay

    i am grinding old fashion oats along with flax seeds and mix it with water and microwave for 40 sec and add curd and small qty of dried grapes. should i soak in water before griding? please advise since i am eating oats at night (30 min after gym)

  • Hi Fran,

    What is the minimum time that oats should be soaked? I usually leave them overnight but once in a while I forget and do it first time in the morning.. would 2 hours be enough?

    Thank you!

  • kit

    this is so interesting as my grandmother/mother always did this. (maybe not oatmeal since they never ate it since coming to the US) But soaking was done to any beans/legumes/grains! (i guess its a korean/asian thing?)
    make sure though (with beans) to rinse off the bubbles or u are going to pass gas~ that’s what my mother used to tell me.

  • william

    Hi Fran,never knew I have to soak oaks.Is it absolutely necessary to soak it with warm acidulated water?Or is it ok to just use room temperature water witout adding lemon or yoghurt.Thanks!

  • Gordon, I think if you soak ‘em you’ll benefit in that they’ll cook more quickly. I don’t think you have to soak them though. I’ve heard that cooking accomplishes the same effect as soaking does, in getting rid of hard-to-digest phyto-chemicals. I suspect that the soaking process is more for the raw foodies. But, like I said, you CAN save on cooking time! (IF you remember to soak ‘em…)

    • Christina Borland

      I have noticed a definitely easier digestion and less acidic after-taste when I eat pre-soaked, cooked, whole organic oat groats vs. not soaked, organic cooked whole oat groats. I almost feel like the oats are in their beer-brewing state if cooked before soaking, with the way they affect my sense of taste / smell after eating them (I don’t drink alcohol anymore, so this is something I noticed pretty strongly). It was like there was too much in the grain for my system to handle when they weren’t pre-soaked.

  • Gordon Bowers

    Fran, do I have to soak oat groats prior to cooking them in water for 45 minutes on low heat. Please advise.

  • Kelly Martin

    I have had to stop eating oats they aggravate my digestion greatly. I did some dowsing over my food and it seems so much more accurate than the blood type diet. Surprised, but the evidence in my body is enough for me.

  • Sarah, I’m sorry ..I can’t take your comment seriously when you mention “microwaves kill any bad organisms and make oatmeal safe to eat”, there is everything wrong with that statement. It’s also not about bad organisms either, it’s about phytic acid which is a completely different thing.

  • I cannot believe that you are still telling everyone to soak their oats. I know you believe you have legitimate information and maybe once upon a time you did. But when you cook them correctly it take care of any problems with the oatmeal and the speculation that it inhibits certain vitamins and minerals in our bodies is totally bogus. It is JUST a theory. Grow up. The benefits far outweigh any thought you may have about bypassing minerals. That’s why they have stopped putting labels on the oatmeal products. Microwaves kills any bad organisms and make oatmeal completely safe to eat. Get a life.

    • Marveen

      There’s no need to be abusive. The author and the rest of the commenters ARE trying to get a life, and stay alive and stay healthy. If your way of achieving this is microwaving your food into oblivion fine but no need to abuse those who choose a different way.

  • Kelly Martin

    Thanks Fran, thats really helpful. I will check out Mercolas metabolic testing questionnaire. I am not sure if they do a B12 supplement in the UK that is liquid, but I will check it out though.

    Many blessings to you xx

  • Kelly, your body sounds a lot like mine. I recommend you check out Dr Mercola’s Metabolic Testing (it’s on his main site for free) which is a questionnaire. Even though I’m A+ blood type, I’m a fast oxidizer so I need high protein in my meals (as in every meal) and very low carbohydrate. As soon as I start eating grains I get bloated too.

    I take a liquid B12 supplement. It’s an oral spray. I noticed a significant difference when I started taking it. My blood test before I started using it also showed that I was low in B12.

    Unfortunately finding the RIGHT eating plan is such an individual thing. There are so many factors to consider. But it sounds like you’re on the way to a good start :) x

  • Kelly Martin

    Hi thanks for this article. I am very confused though now. I was vegetarian and had a blood test saying I was B12 deficient. I wasnt eating a lot of grains but my cereal for breakfast at that time was toasted rice (I cannot think of the other name for it) with my rice milk. Anyway I went back to meat eating because I was scared of the b12 deficiency initially felt healthier and then found meat just was not good for my digestion I put on lots of weight and felt really heavy. Anyway I am back on a primarily vegetarian diet, but I am having fish and I am following the blood type diet plan for type A which encourages lots of grains and seeds (not wheat though) and a primarily vegetarian diet. So I made up a large muesli from oats, spelt, raisins, peanuts and put it in my cereal container and when I have it on a morning I drop in a little ground linseed (just started that today). But probably for over a week now I am burping pretty much most of the time as soon as I have my first meal of the day my muesli. I hadnt soaked my muesli had not even heard of this and also many years back had acne rosacea which has gone now. I want to keep my skin clear so I am very confused about this and with so many comments I am finding it conflicting to understand what to do? also what to do with my large carton of homemade muesli now. Any suggestions for breakfasts? Thanks in advance.

  • Adam S.

    Quinoa seeds are coated with saponins, which are “mildly toxic” according to Wiki. They also are bitter. It’s important to wash the seeds before cooking. I put them in a bowl of water and rub the seeds between my fingers, which is what our Peruvian guides taught us.

  • chickilea

    My friend said I should soak my oatmeal in water and a pinch of salt to break down the toxins in the oatmeal. Is this correct? If so should I still add lemon juice and rinse in the morning

  • Megan

    I have a muesli recipe that calls for everything being soaked in 100% all natural pineapple juice for 10 minutes before eating. Will this have the same effect as soaking them with water overnight? Or should the oats or even the whole mixture be soaked overnight in water then rinsed and then prepared with the the pineapple juice?

    Also, I have noticed an increase in gas and bloating when I started eating the muesli, will soaking help with this?

  • About how long they keep: If you’ve started with clean (sterile even) containers, you can rinse them after the first day’s soaking. Continue to rinse them once daily; they can sprout some and be eaten at any point in the next few days. Or refrigerate them to eat at any point for the next week.
    One thing that doesn’t work: To reuse your sprouting container to start more, without cleaning it well. Something about sprouting things; the grains/seeds are very prone to certain bacteria. (Hence the common recalls on sprouts.) A splash of bleach-water and a good rinse will usually do the trick.

  • Something I have always wondered is how long do they stay good for after they have been soaked? I usually get concerned after 2-3 days and chuck them. Anyone know? I am sure it depends on what grain or bean we are talking about too.

  • Dober

    I just started soaking my oats, should i add my vanilla extract before or after the soaking process (for taste) i assumed the oats would absorb the flavor?

  • Regarding the person above citing China Study, there was a recent post on “Raw food S.O.S.”
    http://heartscanblog.blogspot.com/2010/07/china-fiction.html that made an attempt to sort through the data.

    They also wrote a post on raw food diets: ‘Raw Gone Wrong: When the Honeymoon is Over’

  • HollyKasper

    Hello Fran,

    Thank you very much for your response. I am going to start soaking my grains and will try fermented veggies like you reccomended and also a B12 supplement. I have read that it is hard to find bioavailable forms of oral B12. Is that true? What kind do you take? Do you think that the soaked nuts, grains, beans, etc. help to make it more bioavailable for your body (by not blocking the body from absorbing the nutrients in foods as I read above)? Are you vegetarian/vegan? Any other reccomendations? If not – do you reccomende having raw/organic animal products once and a while for this reason? I am going crazy reading contradictory information so thank you for your help :)

  • Hi HollyKasper, to be honest on a vegan diet it’s VERY difficult to get B12. Some nutritionists say fermented veggies and algae like spirulina give you it but others say those foods don’t actually top you up. I take an oral B12 supplement every day and have noticed a big difference in my energy levels since I’ve been taking it.

  • HollyKasper1


    I am attempting a vegetarian almost vegan diet and worry about vitamin B12 deficiency. Does soaking/sprouting nuts/grains provide bacteria that has vitamin B12 in it? I am hearing controversial information that is frustrating and I just want to know what is what. The attempt at a Vegetarian diet is for health reasons from what I read in the China Study and about Dr. Gerson and McDougal and the benefits – but I want to be sure I am not deficient in critical vitamins and minerals. Thank you :)

  • Shana Boo

    So is flax meal a grain? I have been adding it to my smoothies every morning shoudl I be soaking this? if so How do you do it since its a powder/fine like already ground?

  • Jordan

    GASP! wow! who knew?? I just finished eating some oats in yogurt and i became curious if oats had anything to do with skin and acne, so out of sheer luck i googled it and found this. NOO! I always find setbacks in my ”supposedly healthy diet”…..

  • Adriano


    I also had a gummy liquid that wouldn’t go away even after i kept rinsing the oats over and over! I wonder why this is? Also, did your rolled oats seem to be white and powdery before u soaked them?

  • I just found some helpful info at this “diagnose me” website, addressing concerns over phytates in various whole grains, nuts, and seeds.

    There is a plus side to ingesting those phytates. Yes, they are enzyme inhibitors, but also: They can bind to excess minerals in our system. This is a valuable service, considering that excess iron generates free radicals in our bodies.

    Phytates also act as antioxidents. Conclusion: It might be good to soak some grains and nuts, as this will break down phytates, allowing for easier digestion. This breakdown of phytates will also occur in breads (due to the yeast/fermentation process), and when grains, seeds, or nuts are toasted or cooked. However: It might also be good to eat some nuts and seeds without the soaking process, just plain and raw. Yes, there will be phytates in such foods. But they will act as antioxidents, and they will bind up any excess minerals.

    As for drinking the soaking liquid: It will contain those extra phytates one may not wish to ingest! Since the phytates bind with excess iron in the system, folks with an abundance of iron shouldn’t have a problem with that, but anemia-prone people better skip drinking that soaking liquid.

    Also, I hadn’t noticed any funky soak water when using organic, old-fashioned coarse oats… (Or, maybe it’s a weird reaction from using certain well waters or something like that?)

  • James

    Hi – was there a reply to Jennifer’s question? I’m too interested if the soaked water has ant goodness to it or if it should be discarded. I must be honest here, when I soak whole rolled oats the water becomes gloopy and sticky, and even when I try to drain it off ysing the water tap through a collander, i can’t really get rid of it – is this normal? Is there a better way than just adding water overnight that makes it easier to strain off the residue the next day?

    Great site, thanks so much for your help!!

  • Lin

    Hi Fran,

    Read somewhere that phytic acid found in oats is said to protect against some cancers. By ‘breaking down’ the phytic acid by soaking, are we losing the goodness of it?

    • Tom

      good question. I don’t see any actual references about this topic…just heresay, anecdotes, and speculation…..

  • Adam

    Can you soak the oats in milk in the fridge overnight? Because then I want to blend them and put them in an omlette.

  • So, question: To drink the soaking water, or not? I’ve been soaking stuff and drinking the water, thinking it must have extra nutrients in it. Or am I sucking down phytates and sabotaging my nutritional efforts?!
    Thanks, if anyone knows…

    • Foy

      Yeah, don’t drink the liquid.

      • Christina Borland

        I second that, you don’t want to drink the water as it has all those things you are trying to eliminate from the grains. However, plants love it! Same for bean sprout soaking water. My houseplants are happily abloom after months of daily morning soak water infusions!

  • MarJean

    Hi Fran,

    I’ve been soaking brown basmati rice in water with about 1/2 -3/4 tsp baking soda overnight, then in the morning rinsing the rice, putting in fresh water and about 1/2 tsp baking soda. Then I rinse really good before cooking. I figured since people use baking soda water for acid indigestion, that maybe baking soda would help get rid of the phytic acid in the rice. Do you think this would work?

  • Hey Anna, yep! Cooked oatmeal is good for you.

  • Anna

    Completly of track question…but is it good to eat oatmeal at night??

  • Kelly

    While soaking is in general a good idea, it does depend more on the grain. Phytic acid does not completely block mineral absorption, if it did, then birds, other animals, including humans, would drop dead.

    When oats have been cooked, or milled into flour, their phytate content will typically fall into a range of approximately 2-7 milligrams per gram. I’ve seen studies in which the absorption of minerals like zinc and copper-given a phytic acid level of 4 milligrams per gram in the grain or legume-falls into the general range of 10-30%. When virtually all of the phytic acid is removed from the grain or legume, this range will increase for zinc into the area of 25-40% but will remain essentially unchanged for copper.

    While soaking can have some impact on the phytic acid found in oats and can lower this amount somewhat, it cannot remove as much phytic acid from the oats as was accomplished in these scientific research studies.

    As a result, I do not believe you would be able to increase the availability of minerals from your oats by a very large amount by soaking them overnight.

    In this context, it is also important to remember that phytic acid is often a plant’s key storage form for the mineral phosphorus and for a nutrient called inositol. These nutrient components of phytic acid are potentially health supportive substances.

  • Deepesh

    Fran, when you say its good to soak the oats for 8-24 hours before eating them, how do I apply this to Quaker Oats (the Maple and Brown sugar flavor)?

    Also, I eat my oats cooked in milk. So if I soak the oats in water, won’t the flavoring all go away in the water?

    I am really confused about how I should go about it.

    • KB

      I also do this and am now wondering what I should do instead

    • susan

      You can soak them in milk overnight in the fridge. I soak mine in juice and then add a little plain yogurt in the morning. You may want to switch from instant oats to rolled oats though.

  • Thanks Fran, I thought the idea was to throw out the water the grains were soaked in which is why I thought it defeated the purpose when the grains totally absorbed the water. I guess the job is done as long as the grains are soaked.

  • Hey virginia, yeah it’s still a good idea to soak them :)

  • Fran, I have been cooking gluten free breads (Wholemeal Buckwheat Bread and Carrot & Raisin Quinoa Bread) from the susanjanemurray.com. site. I soaked the Buckwheat grains, sunflower seeds and millet flakes from the first recipe overnight and I did the same with the Quinoa grains and Quinoa flakes from the second recipe. The Quinoa grains and Buckwheat grains totally soaked up the water and the Quinoa and Millet flakes soaked up most of the water. So I’m wondering if there is any point in soaking them.

  • It’s better that way Virginia but not necessary.

  • Fran, last night I used natural yoghurt instead of cider vinegar as you suggested. Tastes much better, thank you.

    In the morning, after I drain the oats, I flush it with more water. Is this necessary ?

  • Try using natural yogurt or lemon juice instead, it won’t leave the after taste.

  • Thanks, Fran. Last night I soaked a quarter cup of oats with equal water and put about a teaspoon of Apple Cider Vinegar in it. The taste of the Vinegar remained after rinsing but I didn’t mind this.

    My question is: Is it alright to use Apple Cider Vinegar
    and is one teaspoon of vinegar enough to ferment the oats?

  • Virginia, yes they are processed. Oat groats aren’t. Yep, they sure can be put in the fridge :)

  • Fran

    Are all rolled oats processed, even organic ones?
    Can the soaked oats be put in the fridge overnight?

  • Jess

    Fran, thank you very much for your reply. I feel so relieved now haha.

  • Sue

    I just wanted to ask if you can soak your rolled oats overnight in the fridge or do you have to soak the oats at room temperature for fermentation? Never heard of having to rinse them either…

  • Jess, nope what you did is fine :)

  • Jess

    Okay, last night I soaked/fermented some old-fashioned rolled oats. This morning, I poured out the water, rinsed the oats a few times, and then ate them as they were. Was this a bad idea? Should I have cooked them? :/

  • It’s much better to rinse them first :)

  • Allie

    Hey Fran!
    Is it alright to cook the oats in the same water that they’ve been soaked in?

  • yep, Adam, hulless, you’re right. ;-)

  • adam

    Yes, quinoa needs to be washed and soaked to remove the “saponin” coating that protects the grain. As for oats, “hulless” are the type that are raw and able to be sprouted. Whole oat grains or “grouts” cannot be sprouted.

  • Gillian

    Hey Fran, thanks heaps for this info. Being vegie, it’s really important by body is not blocking the uptake of B12. I might go back to the days of having some Bircher meusli soaking overnight in the fridge….

  • Kyle

    Very interesting, I always thought I was being a good person by eating oats at all (even though I love them).

  • Really it’s good to soak all grains for 8-24 hours before eating them. This makes them much easier to digest.

    Ashley- The house I’m living in at the moment has a cat, so I put a plate over the oats at night so the cat (or any mice!) won’t eat them.

  • Veronika

    Nevermind, I just read the comments above and got my answer. for some reason my browser (Safari) is not letting my edit my comment even though I still have 1 minute and 15 seconds left =P

  • Veronika

    Hi Fran,

    Do you think quinoa grains need to be soaked? What about quinoa flakes? I’ve removed gluten from my diet so I’m eating more quinoa, including quinoa flakes which cooks just like cream of wheat (but much more nutritious!).

    By the way, so far my skin is SO MUCH less itchy and inflamed and I rarely get cystic acne. I suspect part of my cystic acne is hormonal, but most of it was the gluten intolerance.

    I love your website – I get so excited when you have a new post.

  • Marcus

    So, does this apply to the oats we find in breads and cereals or just the raw stuff?

  • Jill – All grains should be soaked or sprouted – I posted about this few comments above.
    They should be organic, raw, soaked and if you wish to add additional kick;-) – sprouted!

    Estella – all this packaged oats are somehow processed – if they rolled- that’s what happened to this marvelous grain. This means the oils of the grain were exposed ( light, oxygen, maybe some heat..) and it means they are easy to go rancid, if they are not rancid already ( probably are).


  • Ashley

    i’ve never heard this before either. i eat instant oatmeal almost every day for breakfast. i usually just empty a packet into a mug, add enough water to cover, and cook in the microwave for 45 seconds. i guess this isn’t healthy, but with mice in the house, i can’t be leaving my oatmeal soaking on the counter overnight =/

    • Newbie

      You can set them in the oven to soak. If it’s cold you can leave the light on in the oven and it will generate just enough heat to keep them warm :)

  • Jill

    I’ve never heard of this before-I emailed this to my naturopath and she said there is some truth to it, especially if you eat oatmeal like every day. She also said that you don’t have to soak quinoa, as it doesn’t have the same effect.
    So Fran, what about other grains-do you have to soak things like couscous and rice as well? What about when baking with oatmeal?

  • I lovvvvvvee this website! I seriously learn something new everyday, it’s great.

  • Marta,

    There’s nothing special about the 1-minute oats. The only ingredient is oats. They’ve been ground to smaller pieces, so they cook faster.

  • Jen Garter!
    I don’t really know what ‘quick 1 minute oats are. Why are they 1 minute -what I mean by that –> what do they say that it does, what is the full ingredient list ?

  • Good point, Fran!
    Even birds don’t eat grains raw. They simply soak them by using their saliva.
    The grain needs to be soak to grow, to sprout, that is why it need a moisture ( moist ground )
    By soaking , you are :
    - reducing inhibitors ( as you mentioned)
    - reducing ACIDITY of the grain!
    - adding the enzymatic force

    I always soak my grains ( whole -not cuts, always raw grain). Then I sprout it occasionally ( if the grain does not sprout it is not raw ).

    I love to blend my grain : simply add 1/2 cup of your soaked grain to 3 X as much water and blend. Add blueberries, banana, whatever you like and enjoy this easy to digest ( blender pre-digested it for you already ! ) smoothie.
    Great for skin/hair, super healthy!
    Cheers, beautiful people!

    • after soaking oats do you throw out the water and use fresh water?

  • Yep, even quick oats need to be soaked. It’s strange how that stopped writing it on the box. It is hard to remember each night but I’m trying!

    • Mandy

      How about whole grain oat flakes? Do you need to soak it?

  • Jen Garter

    Ok, so what about the quick 1 minute oats? The label doesn’t say anything about being fermented or processed…so I should assume it’s not?

    • Foy

      Here’s what the Weston A Price Foundation has to say about oats:

      Oats contain very little phytase (the enzyme that breaks down phytic acid), 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.

      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. 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.

      How do we square what we know about oats with the fact that oats were a staple in the diet of the Scots and Gaelic islanders, a people known for their robust good health and freedom from tooth decay? For one thing, high amounts of vitamin D from cod’s liver and other sources, helps prevent calcium losses from the high oat diet.

      Absorbable calcium from raw dairy products, consumed in abundance on mainland Scotland, provides additional protection.

      In addition, it is likely that a good part of the phytase remained in the oats of yore, which partially germinated in stacks left for a period in the field, were not heat treated and were hand rolled immediately prior to preparation. And some Scottish and Gaelic recipes do call for a long fermentation of oats before and even after they are cooked.

      Unprocessed Irish or Scottish oats, which have not been heated to high temperatures, are available in some health food stores and on the internet. One study found that unheated oats had the same phytase activity as wheat.

      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.

      • sweetie

        only eat raw organic oats

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