Why should we soak our nuts?
by Harlan Sparer, DC
Did you ever notice that when you eat more than a few raw nuts or seeds that your digestion is affected? The reason is that nuts and seeds are ultimately baby potential plants and trees. Given the right moisture and nutrient conditions, that is their planned design goal. The guts of an herbivore or omnivore, however are less than ideal for plant growth. As a result, their coating contains substances designed to thwart digestion.
Once a seed or nut is roasted or pasteurized, the fatty, protein, and carbohydrate substances that are potential nutrients are altered, along with the enzyme inhibitors. While this helps indigestion, it is deleterious to the nutrition quality of the seeds and nuts many people love to eat.
Many people prefer to maximize the nutrients they can obtain from seeds and nuts. Immersing them in water begins to break down the enzyme inhibitors. The time required varies by the variety of nut or seed (see my chart). While this is an excellent place to begin conscious seed and nut munching, this can be taken further with better results.
Sprouting a nut or seed simply requires soaking it for a longer period of time than soaking and includes periodically washing them and changing the soak water. The dormant seed or nut becomes alive and is a healthy nutrient factory full of substances that aren’t present in the sleepy stage of “waiting for water.” Sprouting is how many Vegans get powerful nutrients and proteins not present when the nut or seed is in its dormant stage.
Many native cultures near the sea traditionally soak their seeds and nuts in brine. This not only helps to flavor them, but also helps them to wake up and sprout. Adding a touch of salt facilitates sprouting biochemically.
Dried beans are in this category as well. Soaking beans before cooking helps digestion. What really makes them nutritionally valuable is sprouting them and eating them without heating them excessively. They can be prepared in a tasty manner without cooking them, with the proper tools and spices.
There is a vast potential for great healthy food in the live vegetable kingdom. Now go soak your nuts!
Soaking and Sprouting Chart
Seed, Nut or Grain
2-2 ½ hours
Do not soak
Nuts (all others)
Pumpkin Seeds (hulled)
Sunflower Seeds (hulled)