Most of us eat nuts and seeds on a daily basis – whether it is in the form of nut/seed butter, nut milk, or just plain old nuts and seeds. This tiny little nutrient packed superfood has found its way into many diets, however, to truly gain all of the benefits they require an extra step prior to your enjoyment!
Why not eat raw nuts and seeds?
Raw nuts (and seeds) contain phytic acid – the storage form of phosphorus in plant tissues. So why is this a problem? Phytates binds to minerals in your GI tract which can cause irritation and contribute to potential nutrient deficiencies. Of course you could take phytase in the form of a supplement – like Pure Encapsulations Digestive Enzyme Ultra – every time that you eat nuts and seeds but I think there is a simpler (and cheaper) answer! Before we get to that there is one more big reason to soak and dehydrate your nuts and seeds. Raw nuts also contain enzyme inhibitors, which prevent the nut or seed from sprouting prematurely in nature. This is great for the nuts in nature but when they have been gathered for consumption something has to change. Eating too many raw nuts that still contain enzyme inhibitors can contribute to the binding of minerals and again lead to digestive strain.
How does soaking and dehydrating help?
Soaking raw nuts and seeds in salt water and then dehydrating at a low temperature (around 105-115F) tricks the phytates and enzyme inhibitors into a neutral state. The combination of minerals and low heat helps break down irritating compounds, while preserving beneficial fats and proteins. This process increases the bioavailability of important nutrients (notably the treasured B vitamins) and activates helpful digestive enzymes that increase nutrient absorption. If you do not want to complete this process yourself it is possible to purchase, however, the cost can be significant in comparison to purchasing raw nuts and soaking/dehydrating them yourself.
If you look to purchase these nuts, they are different from sprouted nuts as sprouting is a much lengthier process.
If you’re not sure if you need to soak/dehydrate your nuts, here are a few questions that might be able to help direct you:
- Do you ever experience low belly pain after eating nuts, seeds or foods that contain them?
- Do you ever notice pieces of nuts in your stool the day after eating them?
- Do you eat a significant amount of phytate containing foods- such as grains, beans, nuts and seeds?
- Do you struggle to consume enough minerals and B-vitamins in your diet?
- Do you eat a lot of phytate-containing foods and your micronutrient test came back showing a deficiency in B-vitamins and minerals?
If you answered yes to any of the above questions, you will likely benefit from soaking and drying nuts prior to snacking on them.
Below is a great graphic that indicates the time that nuts/seeds should be soaked – and if you feel like going the extra mile you can try sprouting!
To prepare your nuts/seeds for soaking, first measure out 4 cups of raw nuts into a bowl. Cover with filtered water and mix in 1 TBSP of sea salt. After soaking, place nuts/seeds in your dehydrator at 105-115F for 12-24 hours. Throughout this process I find myself snacking! Turn off the dehydrator when your nuts/seeds have achieved a crunchy texture and no longer seem water-logged 🙂
Keeping the temperature under 118F maintains its “raw” status and does not comprising any of the nutrients. If you do not have a dehydrator you can dehydrate nuts in your oven at its lowest temperature – preferably at least close to 150F. Continue to watch your nuts as time will vary based on method of dehydrating.
Let us know which nuts/seeds you dehydrate!