Why you should really soak nuts and seeds

It may sound complicated and tedious, but it’s actually really simple to soak and dehydrate nuts and seeds, especially if you own a dehydrator. If not, you can use an oven, although you might lose a few beneficial enzymes. Overall, it’s really worth it, because you’ll get the most benefits from these healthy and delicious treats.

Natural cycle of nuts, seeds (and also grains and legumes)

In nature, plants have defense mechanisms to guarantee germination until enough water is present. This is done by a protecting the seed with inhibitors and certain substances (phytates, tannins, goitrogens) that will be broken down when the appropriate condition is met, as when it rains.

Soaking

We mimic nature when we soak nuts. Soaking will basically do the following:

1. Diminish or reduce phytates.

Also called phytic acid, phytate interferes with the absorption of important minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc in the intestinal tract.

2. Reduce the content of tannins.

Although tannins are actually polyphenols with antioxidant activity (which is good), they can give a “bitter” taste to foods, such as when you don’t rinse or soak quinoa. When ingested in excess, tannins might interfere with digestion and absorption of some nutrients and may cause reactions to people who are sensitive.

3. Neutralize enzyme inhibitors.

Enzyme inhibitors will bind to our bodies' digestive enzymes, affecting their enzymatic activity and burdening overall digestion when they are present in large amounts.

4. Enhance enzyme activity in the nuts.

Soaking will “wake up” the enzymes for germination. Sprouting occurs if you continue soaking for a longer time. In turn, enzymes will make nutrients in the nuts more bioavailable for absorption (B vitamins, minerals such as magnesium, selenium, etc).

How to soak nuts and seeds

Tools

Raw nuts

Glass or ceramic bowl for soaking

Sea salt (1 tsp for every 2cups of water)

Filtered water (as much as to cover nuts + 1inch on top)

Dehydrator (you can use an oven as well)

*If using oven, you'll need parchment paper and cookie sheet

Soaking Times

Almonds: 8-12 hours

Cashews: 2 hours

Hazelnuts, pine, pistachio, walnuts and pecans: 6-8 hours

Pumpkin, sesame and sunflower seeds: 6-8 hours

Lentils: 8 -12 hours

Beans: 8-12 hours

Garbanzo beans: 12+ hours

Quinoa: 6-8 hours

Directions:

Soak nuts in water and salt for their ppropriate period of time(refer to recommendations above). After soaking, discard water and use the nuts directly for making dairy-free milk or pureeing them to be used in several recipes. If you want to consume them as dried nuts, you’ll need to dehydrate them either using a dehydrator or oven.

Using a dehydrator:

Lightly dry nuts with a clean towel and spread them over dehydrator’s trays. Set temperature between 90-100°F to maintain enzyme activity. Let it dehydrate at least 12 hours, checking after that by making sure the nut fully dried on the inside (when biting it should be crunchy, not soft). Store in sealed glass containers or in the fridge.

Using an oven:

Set oven to its lowest temperature possible (most go down to 170°). This is not ideal, and not considered to be in the “raw” temperature range, but you’ll still have some benefits, especially if you don’t let them toast (although the flavor is pleasurable, enzymes will be destroyed by this process). Dry nuts in the oven for 30 minutes to 1 hour in a parchment lined cookie sheet. If it’s still soft in the middle, put it back in the oven and repeat the process, checking every 15-20 minutes. Store in sealed glass containers or in the fridge.

You don’t have to soak chia, flax or hemp seeds, because they are sensitive to high temperatures due to their high omega-3 profile. They can be soaked for baking recipes and hemp can be used directly on granola mixes, salads and smoothies.

You will save time if you use a lb. of nuts instead of smaller batches. After that, you are ready to enjoy these delicious and super healthy foods in so many ways and every day!

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© Updated 2020 by Personal Nutrition.