Part of my journey to reclaim my health, I kept a Nutritional Journal. I often noticed after eating raw nuts that they upset my stomach slightly, I would also get really tired. I love my nuts and seeds so I started looking at ways I could include them without these effects. Through my studies I came across the book Nourishing Traditions According to Sally Fallon, co-founder of the Weston A. Price Foundation and author of Nourishing Traditions, “our ancestors and virtually all pre-industrialized people only ate grains that were soaked or fermented.” If you do not have a copy of her cookbook Crab a copy here, it is a great resource of information and is an essential cookbook for traditional cooking.
So I started soaking and dehydrating my nuts and seeds, I found to my delight, that I could eat them with no negative effects. I also discovered that they tasted fresher and they had a much yummier flavor.
So why is soaking them is better for us?
Soaking nuts, grains, seeds, and legumes
Nature has set it up so that the nut, grain and seed may survive until proper growing conditions are present. Nature’s defense mechanism includes nutritional inhibitors and toxic substances that can be removed naturally when there is enough precipitation to sustain a new plant after the nut, grain or seed germinates. When it rains the nut, grain or seed gets wet and can then germinate to produce a plant. So we are mimicking nature when we soak our nuts, grains and seeds.
Nutritional inhibitors and toxic substances found in nuts grains and seed can be minimized or eliminated by soaking. These inhibitors and toxic substances are enzyme inhibitors, phytates (phytic acid), polyphenols (tannins), and goitrogens.
What are Enzyme inhibitors?
There are digestive enzymes and metabolic enzymes. Digestive enzymes help break down food. Metabolic enzymes help every biological process the body does. Enzyme inhibitors will clog, warp or denature an active site of an enzyme. They may also bind to the enzyme, which will prevent the intended molecule from binding. “Once again, the habits of traditional peoples should serve as a guide. They understood instinctively that nuts are best soaked or partially sprouted before eaten. This is because nuts contain numerous enzyme inhibitors that can put a real strain on the digestive mechanism if consumed in excess.”
What are Phytates?
“All grains contain phytic acid in the outer layer or bran. Untreated phytic acid can combine with calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and especially zinc in the intestinal tract and block their absorption. This is why a diet high in unfermented whole grains may lead to serious mineral deficiencies and bone loss. The modern misguided practice of consuming large amounts of unprocessed bran often improves colon transit time at first but may lead to irritable bowel syndrome and, in the long term, many other adverse effects.”
I would like to introduce you to the concept of why you should soak you nuts and how to do it.
Why soak nuts, grains and seeds?
- To remove or reduce phytic acid.
- To remove or reduce tannins
- To neutralize the enzyme inhibitors.
- To encourage the production of beneficial enzymes.
- To increase the amounts of vitamins, especially B vitamins.
- To break down gluten and make digestion easier.
- To make the proteins more readily available for absorption.
- To prevent mineral deficiencies and bone loss.
- To help neutralize toxins in the colon and keep the colon clean.
- To prevent many health diseases and conditions.
“Soaking allows enzymes, lactobacilli and other helpful organisms to break down and neutralize a large portion of phytic acid in grains. Soaking in warm water also neutralizes enzyme inhibitors, present in all seeds, and encourages the production of numerous beneficial enzymes. The action of these enzymes also increases the amount of many vitamins, especially B vitamins. During the process of soaking and fermenting, gluten and other difficult-to-digest proteins are partially broken down into simpler components that are more readily available for absorption.”
What can be used to soak nuts, grains and seeds?
I have found many references to soaking nuts, grains, and seeds in water, salt water, or a warm water mixture with something acidic like yogurt, whey or lemon juice. It seems within 7 to 24 hours the enzyme inhibitors are neutralized and the anti-nutrients are broken down regardless of the method you choose. There is evidence that the process works when you see sprouting begin.
How long does the soaking process take?
“As little as seven hours of soaking in warm acidulated water will neutralize a large portion of phytic acid in grains. The simple practice of soaking cracked or rolled cereal grains overnight will vastly improve their nutritional benefits.” “Flour products should be soaked at room temperature for at least twelve hours but better results may be obtained with a twenty-four hour soaking.”
Are the nuts, grains and seeds used wet?
I have enjoyed almonds wet. If you choose to try consuming anything in the soaked state, make little batches and store them in the refrigerator. Usually everything that is soaked is dried in a dehydrator or oven on the lowest possible setting for 24 – 48 hours to remove all moisture.
Basic Recipes we have used Salt.
- 4 cups almonds, 1-tablespoon sea salt, filtered water (enough to cover nuts) Soak overnight or a minimum of 7 hours, Dehydrate for 12-24 hours or until crisp In my experience almonds take longer than the other nuts, for me around 15 hours. You really need to make sure they are very dry otherwise you will notice them going mouldy very quickly.
- 4 cups raw cashews, 1-tablespoon sea salt, filtered water (enough to cover nuts) Soak 3-6 hours. Be careful with cashews – they can go slimy if left too long so keep an eye on them. Dehydrate for 12-24 hours or until crisp (do not use temperature above 150°F)
Pecans & Walnuts
- 4 cups raw pecans or walnuts, 2-teaspoon sea salt, filtered water (enough to cover nuts)Soak overnight or a minimum of 7 hours, Dehydrate for 12-24 hours or until crisp (do not use temperature above 150°F)
Pine Nuts & Hazelnuts
- 4 cups pine nuts or hazelnuts, 1 tablespoon sea salt, filtered water (enough to cover nuts)Soak overnight or a minimum of 7 hours. Dehydrate for 12-24 hours or until crisp (do not use temperature above 150°F)
- 4 cups pumpkin seeds, 2 tablespoon sea salt, filtered water (enough to cover pumpkin seeds)Soak overnight or a minimum of 7 hours. Dehydrate for 12 hours or overnight (do not use temperature above 150°F)
Let me know your favorite recipes.
Written by Delicia Beaty and Sharon Foutch Source (pdf): wss.nourishingconnections.org