One of the first books about the raw food diet I read was a book called ‘Soak Your Nuts’ by Karin Calabrese. I found it extremely informative – I had no idea just how important it was to soak your nuts!
Yes, you read me right!
Raw nuts and raw seeds have notable levels of phytic acid. This is a form of bound phosphorous, which serves as a physiological protectant for plants.
Think about it: you can store nuts and seeds for years and years if you keep them in a cool, dry place. They don’t go bad like apples or strawberries because nature coated them with a special lining, which serves as a natural preservative.
While phytic acid is useful to safeguard the seeds until germination, we don’t want it! When eaten by humans it binds to minerals in the digestive tract, causing irritation and leading to potential nutrient deficiencies.
What’s more, nuts also contain a significant amount of enzyme inhibitors, which act to prevent the nut or seed from sprouting prematurely in nature. These enzyme inhibitors can also bind up minerals and cause digestive strain for us humans… remember any toilet troubles after indulging in too many un-soaked nuts?
Soaking your nuts in filtered water will remove the phytic acid and de-activate enzyme inhibitors.
More benefits of soaking your nuts:
- To remove or reduce tannins.
- 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 help neutralize toxins in the colon and keep the colon clean.
How to soak your nuts?
Use clean, filtered water only as the water will be absorbed into the nut or seed, i.e. not tap water. Make sure the water completely covers the nuts or seeds. More water is better than less!
Always store nuts and seeds away from light as it damages the beneficial oils over time. The harder the nut, the longer you need to soak.
Some approximate soaking times:
- Almonds: 8–12 hours
- Hazelnuts: 8 hours
- Pecans: 8 hours
- Pistachios: 4 hours
- Brazil Nuts: 2 hours
- Cashews: 2 hours
- Macadamia Nuts: 2 hours
- Pine Nuts: 2 hours
- Walnuts: 2 hours
- Pumpkin Seeds: 6 hours
- Sesame Seeds: 6 hours
- Sunflower Seeds: 4 hours
- Chia Seeds: 2–8 hours
- Flax Seeds: 2 hours
Discard the water and do not use it! Here’s the fascinating thing: you will now see that the water is brown. It’s actually pretty gross! That’s the enzyme inhibitors that hinder your digestion and absorption.
Use the nuts or seeds as needed, and remember it is now a living food so store it in the fridge.
Our favourite nutty uses!
- Put on top of salads for protein and in raw food desserts
- Make almond milk or any other nut or seed milk
- Put in smoothies as a creamy protein source instead of milk. Or why not try a nut pate?
- You could even dehydrate them to make them crispy again and it would still be considered raw as it is cooked at very low temperatures. (A little tamari and cayenne pepper before you dehydrate is delicious.)
Nuts are a great way to increase natural nutrition, plant protein and fibre. With a little bit of soaking, you are taking their nutrition – and your digestion – to the next level.
Remember to mix it up so you get a varied source of nutrients and proteins and so you don’t get bored either!