I don’t know if you are like me or not, but I’ve always liked nuts and seeds. I ate them on their own, in baking, on top of salads and in nut milks and butters. I gave them to my kids to eat by the handful since they were such a quick and nutritious snack. I knew they were good sources of protein, fiber and essential fats along with many other nutrients specific to the nut. What I didn’t know until recently was that the way most of us eat nuts makes most of those nutrients unavailable to our bodies.
This is just another example of why we need to be more in touch with the food we eat. Nuts and seeds are key to the plant’s means to reproduction. These nuts and seeds were designed to be protected from the elements so that they would only sprout at the right time and in the right conditions. Nature had to ensure that there would be enough precipitation to sustain this new plant after germination.
Certain toxins and nutritional inhibitors form a protective coating around the nut or seed and can only be removed after soaking. While these are great for protecting the plant, they are not great for our digestive system. These substances interfere with our bodies ability to absorb nutrients. Nuts and seeds contain very high levels of one of these substances called phytic acid. Once in our digestive tract, they bind to good nutrients like calcium, magnesium, copper, iron, and zinc and block them from being absorbed by our bodies. If we eat large enough quantities of these acids we could become very defincient in many of these essential nutrients and do damage to our gut.
Now I don’t want you to toss out all of your nuts and seeds yet, becuase they are very great for you and nutrient dense if we eat them in the right way, the way that they were eaten traditionally. Basically, we want to mimic nature’s way of getting through the tough protective layer so our bodies can get at all of the nutrients that are on the inside. This protective layer is there to stop the seed from sprouting when the conditions are too dry, so we must create the perfect sprouting environment for these nuts to encourage the reduction and breakdown of the protective phytic acid.
We can do this by soaking and even sprouting our nuts and seeds and then either eating as is in nut milks or creams or dehyrating them. Its a very straightforward and simple process and it even makes the nuts and seeds crunchier and in my opinion tastier than they were before the soaking and dehyrating. All you need is the nuts, warm water and some salt. The warm water and salt solution help to nuetralizes the inhibitors and actually increases the absorption and accesibility our body has to many of the nutrients. It can take anywhere from 8-24 hours depending on the nut/seed. For example, cashews don’t need as much soaking as an almond would. But it’s not an exact science, just soak overnight and you will be set.
Soaking Nuts & Seeds
2 cups raw nut or seed of choice (better not to mix)
4 cups warm water
1 tablespoon salt
- Dissolve salt into warm water in large jar or bowl.
- Add the nuts/seeds, but make sure they are submerged in the water completely.
- Let sit uncovered in a warm place for at least 8 hours or overnight.
- Strain and rinse nuts/seeds before spreading them on a baking sheet.
- At this point if you want to add some spices to flavor your nuts/seeds go ahead. I go for simple salt and pepper.
- Bake in oven at 150 degrees F/65 degrees C or put in dehydrator until completely dry. This will vary depending on where you live and the type of nut you used. It can take anywhere from overnight to 24 hours.
This is something I wish I knew earlier after many years of denying my body of many nutrients it could have been using, but its better late than never. I hope you too are motivated to change the way you and your family eat nuts so you can unlock all of the nutrients tucked carefully inside its protective shell.