I think that we can all agree that raw nuts are a delicious and convenient superfood to add to our diets. So whats all the this talk about having to soak our raw nuts before unlocking their true potential?
Here is the deal:
It turns out that just like legumes and seeds, our little friends also contain phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors. Phytic acid serves as a physiological protectant and antioxidant for the plants. However, when consumed by humans it can bind with calcium, iron, zinc, copper and magnesium in the intestine, preventing their absorption into the body. Enzyme inhibitors can interfere with the process of digestion by binding up minerals and causing a digestive strain. It should be said that a strong digestive system can tolerate phytic acid and a healthy diverse diet does counteract the enzyme inhibitors.
Soaking nuts in slightly salted water and then drying them on low temperature will neutralize the phytate and enzyme inhibitors. In fact many traditional cultures practiced this using seawater and the sun. Not only will the combination of minerals and low heat break down the irritating compounds, but it will preserve the beneficial fats and proteins. In addition, the bioavailability of important nutrients (mainly vitamin B) is increased.
How to soak nuts:
My tip is to do it in big batches. I’ll do 4 cups of Almonds in one shot to ensure that I have plenty on hand.
- Place 4 cups of nuts in a bowl and cover with clean water.
- Add 1 tablespoon of sea or himalayan salt and let it sit for at least 7 hours or overnight. Then rinse the nuts thoroughly and spread them out evenly on your oven tray.
- Set your oven to the lowest temperature (max. 65 oC) and dry the nuts for 12 - 24 hours. Check on them periodically. If your nuts can’t be laid out in a single layer, stir them from time to time to ensure they dry out evenly.
- Make sure the nuts are completely dry before taking them out. Leave them out to cool. Then store them in an airtight container in the fridge.
Guidelines to dehydrate:
To soak or not to soak?Well the answer is yes, you should always try to soak your nuts before using them, especially if any of the following applies to you:
- Experience low belly pain or bloating after eating nuts
- Notice pieces of undigested nuts in your stool
- Eat other phytate containing foods such as legumes, grains and seeds
- Struggle getting enough vitamin B from your diet
What about already roasted nuts?
Commercially roasted nuts are not soaked before being roasted. The process of soaking and drying nuts before seasoning and roasting them is much too laborious for commercial producers.
If you want to look for pre-soaked nuts, look out for the word “activated” or “sprouted” in the label.
Do they have to be organic?
Just like vegetables, organic is preferable due to the risk of pesticides. There is a difference in opinions. There are studies that say that the remaining residue on the nuts after hulling is negligible due to the small surface area of the nut. However other experts claim that the high oil content of the nuts makes them absorb more of the pesticides. Fact is that pesticide use is on the rise and picked non-organic nuts are usually fumigated in order to kill bugs before being processed.
Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon