Why Should You Soak Nuts and Seeds?
“People who eat nuts daily live longer than those who don’t.” Have your attention yet? I discuss the amazing health benefits of eating raw nuts and seeds in my book, SuperLife. Nuts and seeds actually deliver critical healthy fats and additional nutrients that aid your body’s cardiovascular system, metabolism, and even weight management.
However, to truly get the benefits of nuts and seeds listed above, you should be eating them raw, sprouted, or soaked whenever possible. Why should you make the time for soaking almonds (and any nut and seed)? There are actually many health reasons to add this important process to your SuperLife.
- Raised enzyme action
- Enhanced nutrient bioavailability
- Easier digestion
- Better tasting (Yes really!)
- Balance pH
So here’s the cool part: the soaking process of nuts, seeds, and grains is done to mimic what nature does so perfectly when it rains! There is a natural protective phenomenon present in nuts, seeds, legumes, and grains called nutritional inhibitors. The most notable inhibitor in nuts is called phytic acid, a form of bound phosphorous, which acts as a protectant for plants.
When nuts or seeds get wet they can then germinate to produce a plant. But until rain happens, they ensure their survival with inherent toxic inhibitors that protect the plants from insects and microbes until the perfect conditions for growth are present. The seeds cannot germinate until they have sufficient moisture.
The soaking process neutralizes the phytates and enzyme inhibitors that make nuts and seeds hard to digest. When the inhibitors are not neutralized before you eat them, it can mean a bellyache for some people. But more importantly, these inhibitors prevent the absorption of calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, and zinc; you know, the healthy nutrients you are eating the nuts to get in your diet! The inhibitors bind to these minerals in our digestive tract, which can cause irritation and potentially contribute to nutrient deficiencies. These inhibitors can even neutralize our own precious enzymes in the digestive tract.
The soaking process also makes additional nutrient more bioavailable. This includes increasing the vitamin C, A, and B content, especially B2, B5, and B6. In our stressed lifestyles B vitamins are constantly used up in the body, which means having increased levels available in the foods you eat is important! B vitamins are essential for:
- modulating stress by supporting your adrenals,
- helping prevent early aging,
- reducing inflammation and the development of heart disease,
- aiding in red blood cell production,
- preventing migraines.
- B6 (Pyridoxine) aids the body’s production of serotonin, melatonin and norepinephrine, all major players in mood and sleep patterns.
Soaking even helps to alkalize the body. How? When nuts are soaked and germinated, their pH is raised. As they become more alkaline, they can help move your body from higher acidic levels down to a more alkaline state. Why is this important? Bacteria and disease are not able to easily live in alkaline environments.
One of the best parts of soaking is that is activates helpful enzymes that increase nutrient absorption and aid digestion. Adding unrefined sea salt also increases enzymes that help break down the enzyme inhibitors even more. Our bodies need all the help they can get and soaking nuts and seeds does a lot for us!
Ancient cultures instinctively knew all this and used seawater and the sun to break down these nutritional inhibitors without damaging the nuts’ and seeds’ nutritional fats and proteins.
Today, despite the fact that modern science continues to prove just how important soaking is to enhancing key nutrients’ bioavailability, it is not done to the nuts and seeds in most commercially sold products. The problem is that soaking is time consuming and expensive, so commercial manufacturers avoid it, despite its importance.
You can do it yourself, however. Once you’ve worked through the process, you’ll be able to do it in your sleep.
- Add raw nuts or seeds to a glass bowl or jar.
- Cover the nuts completely using distilled, structured or reverse osmosis water. Add unrefined sea salt (use the chart below to determine the correct amount of salt. Adjust salt amount as needed to the amount of nuts used).
- Keep the bowl at room temperature and cover with a towel that breathes.
- Check the timeline using the chart included below for the right amount of time to soak your nuts or seeds.
- Once the nuts or seeds are done soaking, drain the water off and rinse them thoroughly with clean water. Remember the soaked water contains the enzyme inhibitors, which is why rinsing is important. Do not use the soaking water for anything. Throw it out (or water your plants with it!).
- At this point you have a few choices: 1) Consume or use them in a recipe within 24 hours! Soaked nuts are great in smoothies or fresh nut milk. Try this almond milk recipe. 2) Dry in a dehydrator oven. 3) The dried nuts and seeds can be stored in the refrigerator for 2 weeks OR be frozen for up to 2 months
Note For Dehydrating Times:
Check your nuts and seeds to make sure they are fully dehydrated with no moisture left. If moisture is left, they will mold (yuck!), plus they will not be crunchy. The recommendation is 12-24 hours, however feel free to taste and check them every 6 hours or so to see if they are fully dry and crunchy enough.
Note: Turning is not necessary in my Excalibur dehydrator, but it may be needed with other models, so do what works for you.
You Can Dry Nuts/Seeds in the Oven:
I understand that not everyone can run out and get a dehydrator (Christmas or birthday present anyone?), however you can still safely roast your nuts in the oven. Because the temperature exceeds 115 degrees in an oven, the nuts will not be considered “raw” according to raw foodist standards, but you will still get many of benefits from oven dried nuts. Set your oven to the lowest temperature possible.
Place nuts on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. You can choose to make your nuts plain or covered with 1-2 tsp coconut oil if desired. Place the nuts in the oven and roast 8 hours or overnight, or until the oil is absorbed and the nuts appear matte. Remove from the oven, cool completely and transfer to a canning jar or another container with an airtight lid. Store in the refrigerator or a cool, dry place.
Tips for Working With Soaked Nuts:
A commonly stated rule of thumb is that “floaters are bloaters.” If any of your nuts float to the top after filling your bowl with water, they are most likely rancid. I suggest throwing them out. Don’t put your body through the nutritional stress of digesting them. Don’t be surprised if you have a few “floaters” each time. If a company continuously has a high amount of “floaters,” consider switching to another brand.
Timing is everything to keeping this easy. Find a schedule that works for you. You could soak the nuts before you go to bed, and rinse and drain as soon as you wake up. This especially works well on the weekend. Another option is to soak them in the morning before you go to work or leave the house for the day (seriously, it takes less than a minute when you have all the supplies clean and ready) and then rinse them when you get home. Once drained the fun part begins, you can either make nut milk, add them to smoothies, or dehydrate for easy snacking!
How to Use Soaked & Dried Nuts and Seeds
- Enjoy them plain as a snack!
- Make nut or seed milk – Here’s the easiest almond milk recipe ever!
- Put them on your salads!
- Make homemade nut or seed butter. Here’s a recipe I use for almond butter.
- Use your delicious homemade almond milk for energizing smoothies like this one!
*Important Note: Most store-bought nuts and seeds, especially roasted ones, are not good for you, and I do not recommend eating them. I could write an entire post about this subject, and eventually will, however I don’t want to get off point, so I will give you a few quick, but important reasons now.
- They’re not soaked, and since you have read the reasons as to why you should be eating soaked nuts from now on, need I say more?
- The nuts and seeds are covered in processed, nutritionally stripped salt, and pro inflammatory oils such as canola oil.
- Commercial nuts are roasted at really high temperatures! This destroys the delicate fatty acids contained in the nuts and seeds. Which basically means you are now eating rancid fatty acids that will create oxidative stress and free radical production in your body. Simply put, more inflammation in your body, which is the root of all disease. Need I say more?
The short version: Make the time for soaking almonds (and any nut and seed). There are too many health reasons to ignore. Add this important process to your SuperLife today.
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