Did you know that soaking nuts and seeds have enormous benefits for your health? Nuts are not only an excellent source of protein but they are also packed full of nutrients and heart healthy monounsaturated fats that our bodies need.
One of nature’s super foods, certain varieties of raw nuts are high in vitamin E, folic acid, calcium, copper, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, and zinc, to name just a few. Nuts are also packed with protein and extremely portable. They are a staple energy food that humans have relied on for thousands of years.
So what is the point of soaking nuts and seeds? Well, nature intended the nut and seed to be protected by enzyme inhibitors phytates (phytic acid), polyphenols (tannins), and goitrogens until perfect growing conditions were met. For example, when there is enough rain and sun, this sets the stage for the nut/seed to come alive. When we soak our nuts/seeds overnight, we mimic nature.
What’s the problem with enzyme inhibitors?
They clog, warp or denature an active site of an enzyme. They may also bind to the enzyme, which will prevent the intended molecule from binding. This is bad news for your digestion, especially if you continually eat unsoaked nuts, seeds (or grains). When you soak and release these inhibitors, the metabolic enzymes can then help every biological process the body goes through – meaning, digestion is assisted because you are literally eating the enzyme that is going to help you digest your food.
What about phytic acid?
All grains contain phytic acid in the outer layer or bran which can block absorption of calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and especially zinc in the intestinal tract and block their absorption. This explains why a diet high in unfermented whole grains may lead 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.
Benefits of Soaking Nuts & Seeds
- Remove or reduce phytic acid
- Remove or reduce tannins
- Neutralize the enzyme inhibitors
- Encourage the production of beneficial enzymes
- Increase the amounts of vitamins, especially B vitamins
- Break down gluten (grains) and make digestion easier
- Make the proteins more readily available for absorption
- Prevent mineral deficiencies and bone loss
- Help neutralize toxins in the colon and keep the colon clean
Soaking allows enzymes, lactobacilli and other helpful organisms to break down and neutralize a large portion of phytic acid in grains. Soaking in warm water neutralizes enzyme inhibitors, present in all seeds, and encourages the production of numerous beneficial enzymes. The action of these enzymes also increases the amount of many vitamins, especially B vitamins. During the process of soaking and fermenting, gluten and other difficult-to-digest proteins are partially broken down into simpler components that are more readily available for absorption.
What can be used to soak nuts, grains and seeds?
To soak almonds, I place a desired quantity in a glass jar or container and submerge with cold, filtered water. Place covered container in refrigerator for 7 to 24 hours. Once they are ready, I take out desired quantity and remove peels, dry almonds off and enjoy.
Note, purchase “raw” almonds in their peel from health food stores such as Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s. I once purchased a big bag from Costco and while it did not go to waste it took much longer to soak and get them out of the peel because they are dry roasted.
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