Many of us consume nuts for their healthy fats and their good source of protein. They make a great quick snack that can easily be taken with you, making it an ideal snack. But many of us do not know how to properly prepare nuts so that we can better digest them. If you have ever felt a heavy feeling in your lower stomach after eating unsoaked nuts or if you see bits of nuts in your stool - these are both signs you may need to help digesting them.
Soaking nuts can increase the nutritional benefit and reduce the phytic acid present. Seeds and nuts store phosphorus as phytic acid and it becomes a phytate when it binds to a mineral. In the body, this process can stop nutrients from being absorbed in the digestive system and reduce the digestibility of these foods. Raw nuts also contain a significant amount of enzyme inhibitors, which act to prevent the nut or seed from sprouting prematurely in nature. Yet these enzyme inhibitors can also bind up minerals and and cause digestive strain in humans.
The phytic acid is naturally neutralized during the digestive process, but foods that are especially high in phytic acid benefit from the process of soaking (and sometimes sprouting) and dehydrating to further reduce the anti-nutrient content.
In other words, just because nuts and seeds are considered good sources of protein and nutrients, doesn’t mean your body can absorb these nutrients. All plants contain phytic acid in some levels, but grains, legumes, nuts and seeds typically contain the highest levels.
It is also important to note that phytic acid may not be entirely bad and it's really the dose that matters. Modern diets high in processed grains and low in nutrient dense fats and minerals may increase the likelihood of nutrient absorption problems and make it even more important to reduce phytic acid levels in food.
Research is finding that phyic acid in certain levels may have a protective effect in the body and a secondary messenger role in cells. Soaking nuts is super easy and something you add to your health lifestyle as you continue to embrace progress, not perfection.
What you will need:
- 2 cups of organic, raw and unsalted nuts (soaking one kind of nut works best)
- 3-4 cups of warm distilled or filtered water (enough to cover nuts)
- 1 Tbsp. of unrefined salt (salt is used to neutralize the enzymes)
- glass container (no lid)
What you will do:
- Simply combine the salt with warm filtered or distilled water and stir to dissolve.
- Add the nuts and allow to sit (uncovered) for 7 - 24 hours on the counter.
- Rinse in a colander and spread nuts on a baking sheet.
- Bake in the oven at the lowest temperature (150 F or lower is optimal) or dehydrate until completely dry (up to 24 hours if you are using an oven and less time if you are using a dehydrator). This step is important, as any remaining moisture in the nuts or seeds can cause them to mold and it will return them to their crispy state.
- Store in the refrigerator to reduce chance of mold growth.
What about roasted nuts?
Roasted nuts are not the same as soaked nuts. Although their flavor may seem appealing, commercially roasted nuts are flash-fried in cheap, rancid oils, while dry roasted nuts are exposed to exceedingly high temperatures that denature the nutrients and cause the breakdown of fats, increasing free radical capacity (this isn’t a good thing). The soaking process is much more careful, involving no weird chemicals or destructive heat shocks.
At The Healthy Edge, we don't make "nutrition" complicated! We simply eat real food and reduce our consumption of processed foods! Foods as close to their natural state as possible are the key to feeling and looking your very best. This idea is a great way to unlock the nutrition potential of nuts not to mention it enhances the flavor tremendously!