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Why should you be soaking your Nuts, Seeds and Legumes?

25 January 2016

Why should we soak our seeds and nuts before we eat them? You may have noticed that there are an increasing number of articles on soaking and available health foods that have been “sprouted” or “activated”. So what does this mean and why should you also be doing this?

Without getting too sciency you can think of it like this: until the seed/nut is ready to be planted it protects itself with a mechanism that produces nutritional inhibitors that are removed naturally when soaked. In nature this would occur when the seed/nut is watered or rained on which will then encourage its germination and growth. So in a way we are copying natures natural processed by soaking the seeds, nuts and legumes first.

These enzyme inhibitors are called phytates (phytic acid), polyphenols and goitrogens and they basically inhibit the breakdown of food. So on a basic level, digestion when eating these foods will be challenging for the body.

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 another reason why some grains may cause irritable bowel or trapped wind.

Here are the main reasons why you should soak or sprout your grains and seeds:

  • To remove or reduce phytic acid.
  • To neutralize the enzyme inhibitors.
  • 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.

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.

How long do I soak for?

Have a look at the chart provided as each grain and seed will be different. 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.

As far as legumes are concerned, soaking also promotes faster cooking and improved digestibility, because the gas-causing enzymes in legumes are released into the soaking water. Be sure to discard this water. After bringing legumes to a boil, scoop off and discard foam. Continue to boil for twenty minutes without the lid at beginning of cooking to let steam rise.

Nuts like almonds have a sweeter juicier taste when served wet – however you can also leave them to dry once soaked if you prefer more of a crunchy sensation.

Give it a try and feel the benefits!


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