Soaking and sprouting grains and legumes is a very popular practice. The health benefits of sprouts are well-known and their delicious taste definitely helps with popularizing this type of ‘cooking’. However, few people realize that soaking nuts is just as beneficial.
Nuts, make an amazing snack, so they are very popular. They can be consumed in a variety of ways, and the most popular is adding them to various desserts and confections. This food provides you with large amounts of essential nutrients and proteins, so including nuts into your diet is a smart decision, but do you need to soak them before eating?
Yes, you definitely do!
Soaking nuts isn’t a very popular practice because this isn’t a mandatory cooking practice for them. Unlike legumes and seeds, which often can’t be cooked properly without a thorough soaking first, you can add ‘dry’ nuts to any dish or snack on them directly without any danger to your health. This food would taste delightful in either form, so you can’t really use a change of flavor as motivation to start soaking nuts.
Considering all this, it seems that there is no reason to waste your time for this kind of preliminary food preparation. However, if you look a little bit deeper, you will see that giving the nuts a thorough soak before you start eating them, makes a great deal of difference in their nutritional value.
Why Everyone Should Start Soaking Nuts?
The answer to this question is ‘phytic acid’. This element is also present in grains and legumes, though nuts have a lesser amount of it. In essence, a nut is a seed of a tree, and phytic acid is the element created by nature to bind the nutrients inside the seed. Ingesting this chemical can be dangerous to your health, which is the reason why some types of legumes must be soaked, lest they poison you.
As nuts contain little phytic acid, they aren’t particularly dangerous to your health, especially if you don’t overindulge in this food on a daily basis. However, there are two very good reasons that explain why you should remove this element from the nuts before eating them:
- It reduces the nutritional value of the food.
- It interferes with digestion and can cause stomachache and other problems.
Soaking nuts for a few hours (depending on the type of nut) breaks down phytic acid. This releases the minerals and vitamins and actually promotes the production of various enzymes inside the nut. The enzymes act in reverse to the ones binding the nutrients to prevent the premature sprouting of the seed. They trigger the reactions that make the nut ‘believe’ that it should start growing into a tree. This pushes the chemical processes inside the seeds to go haywire and start unlocking all their carefully hidden potential, releasing more vitamins and minerals that should promote the growth of a new plant.
In addition to a huge boost in nutritional value of individual nuts, soaking them has the added benefit of making this food easier to digest. Pythic acid and other enzymes that ‘lock’ the growth potential of the seed, are so difficult to break down that your intestines can’t handle them effectively. As a result, many people suffer from bouts of indigestion, and often constipation, when they eat large amounts of nuts at once.
Those with sensitive stomachs or some digestive problems might start feeling discomfort after consuming as little as 3-4 nuts. Soaking nuts should prevent these negative reactions in everyone, except those with extreme sensitivity to the food or severe digestive issues. Note that nut allergies are relatively common and exceedingly dangerous. If you are prone to allergic reactions, you should be very careful with this food.
How to Soak Nuts
Soaking nuts is very easy, and it’s up to you to decide whether you want to get them a quick soak to break down the ‘bad’ enzymes or outright sprout them. Nuts sprouts have similar benefits to grain and legume sprouts, which means that they contain more nutrients and are easier to digest. However, they taste rather different from dried nuts, so be sure to try them and discover whether you like the flavor.
To soak nuts, you’ll need to take the following steps:
- Put nuts into a glass jar.
- Fill the jar with enough water to cover the nuts.
- Leave them to soak for a specified period of time.
- Rinse the nuts thoroughly and enjoy eating a much more nutritious variation of this food.
The times for soaking nuts vary:
- Macadamia nuts – 4 hours
- Cashews – 6 hours
- Walnuts, pine nuts, pecans, hazelnuts – 8 hours
- Almonds, Brazil nuts – 12 hours
Use cold filtered water and be sure to discard it right after soaking as it’s filled with all the chemicals you wanted to remove from the nuts. Adding a bit of salt to the water will ‘pull out’ the nutrients more efficiently, but it might change the taste a bit so you should try both options and see which you like best.