The safest, most effective therapies for optimal health!

by Ellen Landauer

Are Tannins
Good For You?

Are tannins good for you?

This compound is one among many plant defense chemical toxins that we are told are safe. Many popular 'foods,' some of which are considered 'superfoods,' contain high amounts.

Are tannins good for you? Cinnamon is a spice that contains a goodly amount...

PHOTO ABOVE: Cinnamon is VERY high in tannins.

When you search on 'are tannins good for you,' you will find 'research' allegedly proving they are health-giving for us humans cites the fact that they can kill fungi, yeasts, bacteria and viruses.

Killing pathogens is the function that tannic acid serves in the PLANTS that contain them. We are expected to extrapolate that we will get the same benefits.

The reality is that these compounds are BAD for humans and other non-herbivore animals such as our closest companion animals, dogs. Side effects are quite common as I will describe - with references.

The question, 'Are tannins good for you,' is answered differently for herbivores. Cattle, sheep, goats and other grazing/foraging animals are not negatively affected. They are MEANT to eat grasses, twigs, leaves and other plants that are rich in tannins and many other compounds that are toxic to us. In fact, this compound is sometimes used to good effect to supplement the diets of livestock. The various plant toxins they eat are rendered harmless.

Since humans are obligate carnivores, we get the benefit of concentrated plant nutrition that has been transformed into meat, milk and cheese by the animals.

Are Tannins Good For You:
Side Effects

Are tannins good for you? Common side effects include headaches or migraines, nausea and constipation. They also bind to iron, making it unavailable - possibly leading to iron deficiency anemia.

These compounds are antinutrients in other respects as well. They form complexes (chemical bonds that bind up a substance) with proteins. Our saliva has an abundance of proteins which help lubricate our mouths and teeth. Tannins bind up those proteins, creating dryness, which is detrimental to mouth and teeth.

"Very large amounts of tannic acid can cause stomach irritation, nausea, and vomiting."  (1)

"Technically, tannins are an evolutionary healing and defense mechanism. They break down proteins in plant life, which dissuades grazing herbivores and helps cut or wounded plants heal. An analogy might be the way various clotting agents in our blood help cuts close and scab."  (2)

Are tannins good for you? Another thing to consider is that they do to our gut the same thing they do to animal skins - toughen, dry and take the life out of the tissues.

"The ability to bind with animal proteins and stabilize them. This makes fermentation impossible and consequently prevents the decomposition of the hide, which is a by-product of the meat industry. The mechanism with which tannins bind to the collagen proteins in the animal hide during tanning is due to the formation of hydrogen bonds between the phenolic groups of the tannin and the peptide groups of the collagen. It is because of this property that tannins are widely used as tanning agents in the vegetable tanning process."

Are tannins good for you? Sure, if you want stained teeth. They make it much easier for dark colored foods like chocolate, wine and tea - to discolor your teeth.

Are Tannins Good For You?
A Little Personal Story

Are tannins good for you? If they were, acorns would be a good food for humans. Acorns, VERY high in tannins, are great food for pigs, squirrels and chipmunks - but NOT for humans!

Are tannins good for you? Brown acorns

Are tannins good for you? Don't think so. These acorns are a delightful food for squirrels, mice and chipmunks.

I just had a chat with the farmer from whom I buy grassfed beef and was sharing about this latest article. She told me that in their pastures, there are areas where lots of acorns fall to the ground - the cows won't touch them! (In my research, I was surprised to find that acorns are toxic to cattle).

Many years ago, I was heavily into wild plant foraging (yup, I actually ate weeds)! Knowing that some indian tribes used acorns as food, I was eager to replicate their processing methods. Maybe once prepared correctly, they would taste like nuts!

I researched how to do that. After the laborious task of harvesting them and inspecting each one for worm holes, I extricated over 100 acorns from their shells. Then, I pressure-cooked the hell out of them. After three 2 - 3 hour rounds of pressure-cooking acorns, discarding all the water each time and rinsing them well, they still tasted extremely bitter.

But I was not to be deterred. Maybe after roasting they would taste more like cashews?? The last step was to spread them out on cookie sheets and slow-roast them in the oven for nearly 2 hours.

Are tannins good for you? Well, trying to make acorns into food showed that they are not good for the planet either! Think of all the electricity, gas and TIME used for all this! Note that most foods containing this compound require a lot of processing to be safe to eat. (Eating plants is going to save the earth? I don't think so)!

My science project was an abysmal failure. Still loaded with tannins and inedible! My valiant attempts to chew and eat some of them resulted in spitting every last particle out.

"Acorns have tannins, which taste bitter. They're toxic if consumed in large amounts and can block your body’s ability to absorb nutrients. This means tannin is actually an anti-nutrient. Consuming too many tannin-rich foods and drinks has been associated with cancers and liver damage."  (3)

Are Tannins Good for You:
The Truth About
Some Superfoods

Are tannins good for you? Purveyors of wine, chocolate, herbs and tea would have us think so.

"These compounds are classed as polyphenols and many plant 'foods' contain them. Legumes (beans, peas, cashews, etc.), cereal grains, cacao (and hence chocolate), nuts, fruits, cider, some leafy greens, coffee, tea and wine."  (4)

Cacao, unsweetened chocolate, wine and tea are some of the foods highest in tannins. Because this compound is an astringent, eating foods that contain it often cause a dry, puckery feel in your mouth. This is one reason I never enjoyed the taste of tea or wine.

As a former chocolate aficionado, it always impressed me how very bitter and astringent unsweetened chocolate is. For me, almost not worth eating unless I added plenty of honey and/or stevia extract to my chocolate recipes.

Many herbs contain high amounts of tannins - especially those which are bark, twigs or outer peels of fruits/nuts. Years ago, back in my clueless days, when I was macrobiotic (another made-up diet that has nothing to do with real health) I drank a lot of kuchika twig tea.

Are Tannins Good For You?
Food Lists

Beverages: Wine, beer, tea.

Grains: wheat, kamut, rye, spelt, einkorn, barley, millet, sorghum, quinoa, corn, teff, etc.

ALL Beans: Soybeans and EVERYTHING made from them (miso, soy milk, tofu AND lecithin), fava beans, broad beans, aduki, kidney, black, chickpeas, lentils, etc.

Spices: cinnamon, cloves, yohimbe, slippery elm, sassafras, curry powder and cramp bark, etc.

Fruits: (the skins contain the most): Pomegranates, cranberries, acai berries (and ALL other berries), grapes, papaya, persimmons, peaches, black currant, plums, apricots, nectarines, kiwi, bananas and avocados. Also apple and grape juices, and cider.

Nuts: Walnuts, almonds, pecans, hazelnuts, peanuts with skins, brazil nuts, cashews, pine nuts, pistachios

Seeds AND oils made from these seeds: Sunflower, flaxseed, chia, pumpkin, etc. ALSO all sprouted seeds like mung, alfalfa, sunflower and lentil.

Vegetables: Rhubarb and squash are especially high.


(1) and (2)



Ellen Landauer is an expert with over 40 years in-depth study and experience of the safe and effective use of nutritional supplements, botanical extracts and detoxification methods.

She is Certified as an Advanced Practitioner of Structural Integration body therapy developed by Dr. Ida P. Rolf - also known as Rolfing. This hands-on therapy is the deepest, most comprehensive body alignment therapy. 

Ellen Landauer is also a  PUBLISHED AUTHOR!

To learn more about Ellen Landauer, see her detailed bio HERE


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