The Press

Soak your nuts for ex­tra good­ness

- Food · Health · Health Tips · Medications · Lifestyle · Healthy Living · Healthy Food · Pharmacology · Medicine

Nuts and seeds can be a great nu­tri­ent-dense snack or ad­di­tion to a meal, but they can also con­tain sub­stances that in­ter­fere with the body’s abil­ity to ab­sorb nu­tri­ents.

Grains and legumes have the same prob­lem, and just as soak­ing, sprout­ing or fer­ment­ing grains re­duces their anti-nu­tri­ent content and makes them more ben­e­fi­cial to the body, so too can the sim­ple process of soak­ing nuts im­prove their nu­tri­tion.

Raw nuts, and es­pe­cially raw seeds, have mod­er­ate lev­els of phytic acid and en­zyme in­hibitors. Phytic acid is nec­es­sary for the plant’s life cy­cle be­cause it helps safe­guard the nut or seed un­til it has the nec­es­sary grow­ing con­di­tions and it can ger­mi­nate.

But while the en­zyme in­hibitors keep seeds from sprout­ing too soon, they aren’t help­ful for peo­ple eat­ing them, as they can bind to nu­tri­ents in the body, con­tribut­ing to nu­tri­ent de­fi­cien­cies and ir­ri­ta­tion in the di­ges­tive sys­tem.

Phos­pho­rus is vi­tal for cell en­ergy and it is stored by seeds and nuts as phytic acid, which be­comes a phy­tate when it binds to a min­eral. If this process hap­pens in the body, it can stop nu­tri­ents from be­ing ab­sorbed and re­duce di­gestibil­ity.

All plants con­tain phytic acid but grains, legumes, nuts and seeds typ­i­cally con­tain the high­est lev­els.

Phytic acid isn’t all bad and there is re­search sug­gest­ing it may have a pro­tec­tive ef­fect in the body, al­though re­search also sug­gests that to ac­cess the ben­e­fits of phytic acid, it needs to be bal­anced by cer­tain fat­sol­u­ble vi­ta­mins and other nu­tri­ents. Modern di­ets are of­ten high in pro­cessed grains and low in nu­tri­ent-dense fats and min­er­als.

To re­duce the phytic acid and in­crease avail­abil­ity of nu­tri­ents, seeds and nuts can be treated by soak­ing and de­hy­drat­ing. This is most im­por­tant for young chil­dren, who are still de­vel­op­ing the en­zymes needed to break down these plant foods.

Treat­ment re­quires only warm wa­ter and salt – about 1-2 ta­ble­spoon of salt for four cups of wa­ter.

The warm wa­ter neu­tralises many of the en­zyme in­hibitors and in­creases the bioavail­abil­ity of many nu­tri­ents, es­pe­cially B vi­ta­mins. The salt helps ac­ti­vate those en­zymes that de­ac­ti­vate the en­zyme in­hibitors in nuts.

Grains and beans may re­quire a more acidic so­lu­tion, but since nuts and seeds con­tain less phytic acid than legumes and more en­zyme in­hibitors, salt is rec­om­mended.

Within about seven hours, many of the en­zyme in­hibitors will be bro­ken down.

A de­hy­dra­tor can then be used to bring back a crisp tex­ture. This may take up to 24 hours. Be sure to dry the nuts well, to avoid mould.

If you plan to make ‘‘milk’’ with the nuts, you can do it while they are al­ready soft­ened.

Sprout­ing takes the process a step fur­ther by re­duc­ing en­zyme in­hibitors even more. Raw pump­kin and sun­flower seeds are con­sid­ered the best can­di­dates for sprout­ing; sim­ply rinse af­ter a soak and put in nor­mal sprout­ing con­di­tions.

Not all nuts and seeds soak well, though; flax and chia seeds tend­ing to gel.

How­ever, there is an ad­di­tional bonus: many say nuts and seeds be­come even tastier.

 ??  ?? Nuts can be soaked in a warm salt­wa­ter so­lu­tion to make their nu­tri­ents more avail­able when eat­ing.
Nuts can be soaked in a warm salt­wa­ter so­lu­tion to make their nu­tri­ents more avail­able when eat­ing.

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