Many of us decide to eat raw seeds and nuts, because they’re highly regarded as super-food, as they’re a healthy source of beneficial fats, proteins, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and also because they’re a great healthy snack to munch on at any time. But do we know the right and best way to consume them, so we can have as much profit from them as possible and avoid potential unwanted effects?
First, let’s say a few words about roasted nuts and seeds. When we roast them, the healthy fats that are found in it, change their structure and can’t connect and combine with water, making them much harder for absorption. Even more, some nuts and seeds lose part of their essential nutrients by thermal processing and become rather useless or less nutritious. Namely, that is the reason why we should consider eating raw seeds and nuts instead of roasted – because we get to draw the full benefit from them.
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Most nuts and seeds contain nutrients such as enzyme inhibitors, which are essential for the nuts and seeds, but not for the human organism. Inhibitors are something like a defensive mechanism for the nuts. When they get into the soil, the inhibitors protect them from rotting, until the surrounding conditions become suitable for the nuts to sprout. On the other hand, our own enzymes are digestive enzymes (they help digest and process the food) and metabolic enzymes (they facilitate all the processes going on in the body). The enzyme inhibitors impede our own enzymes by interacting with them or deforming them.
Also, nuts and seeds contain Phytic acid in their shells and husks. When this acid gets into our constitution, it connects with the calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and the zinc and doesn’t permit us to absorb them. What’s even worse, when consumed in larger amounts, phytic acid can lead to mineral deficit, severely irritate the stomach and even cause more serious health problems.
That doesn’t sound good, right? But there is a simple solution – soak nuts and seeds in water. When you steep them, the enzyme inhibitors become neutralized hence the phytic acid is also removed. The nut kind of “awakens”, it initiates a germinating process and becomes “alive”. Moreover, there’s a stimulation of beneficial enzymes and vitamins (especially B complex vitamins), the gluten get shattered and the proteins become a lot easier for absorption. By soaking the raw seeds and nuts, you also prevent mineral loss and toxins get nullified. Seeds and nuts should be steeped in cool water for certain hours that we will list further below. After the nuts have been soaked, they have to be carefully rinsed and the water in which they’ve been soaked in must be cast away. Usually it becomes darker and turbid, because of the harmful elements that have been released in it. When it’s all done, they can be stored in a fridge, as their freshness is best up until 24 hours upon refrigeration. Some types of nuts/seeds can last even a bit longer. Should you happen to have a dehydrator, you can dry them a lot faster and preserve them for a longer period of time. If you really can’t afford the full time to soak these superfoods properly, you can steep them for like 20-30 minutes, so at least part of the harmful matters can be removed.
Some seed types like chia or flax don’t necessarily require rinsing after steeping, so don’t feel obliged to wash them up before consumption. They can be added to salads, smoothies, juices or other dishes.
Picture credit: Andrea Drugay
Chia seeds are particularly delicious when soaked in almond milk with cinnamon and natural honey or in nut milk with organic cacao and maple syrup. By soaking, chia enlarges its sizes up to 9 times, thus releasing all its essential nutrients. The minimum time chia seeds should be soaked is 15-30 minutes, but the longer you let them stay in water, the more wholesome they will become, it’s best if you let them stay soaked for an entire night. Furthermore, chia seed can be used as an egg substitute in many recipes. Just replace 1 egg with 1tbsp of chia steeped in 3tbsp of water.
Watch Genevieve talk about How and Why to soak raw nuts and seeds
Nuts and seeds and the recommended soaking/germination time for each of them:
- Alfalfa: 8 hours / 2-5 days for germination
- Almonds: 8-12 hours / over 12 hours for germination
- Brazil nuts: shouldn’t be soaked / don’t germinate
- Beans: 8-12 hours / 3-5 days for germination
- Barley: 6-8 hours / 2 days for germination
- Buck wheat: 15 minutes / 1-2 days for germination
- Cashew: 2-3 hours / doesn’t germinate
- Quinoa: 2 hours / 1-2 days for germination
- Cedar nuts: shouldn’t be soaked / don’t germinate
- Hemp seed: shouldn’t be soaked / doesn’t germinate
- Chick peas: 12 hours / over 12 hours for germination
- Flax seed: 8 hours / doesn’t germinate
- Lentils: 8 hours / over 12 hours for germination
- Hazelnuts: 6-8 hours / don’t germinate
- Macadamia: shouldn’t be soaked / doesn’t germinate
- Wheat: 7 hours / 2-3 days for germination
- Rice: 9 hours / 3-5 days for germination
- Walnuts: 4 hours / don’t germinate
- Oats: 6 hours / 2-3 days for germination
- Millet: 8 hours / 2-3 days for germination
- Rye: 6 hours / 2-3 days for germination
- Sunflower seeds: 2 hours / 2-3 days for germination
- Sesame seeds: 8 hours / 1-2 days for germination
- Spelt: 6 hours / 2-3 days for germination
- Pumpkin seeds: 8 hours / 1-2 days for germination
- Corn: 12 hours / 2-3 days for germination
- Chia: 30 minutes: 2-3 days for germination
- Pistachio nuts: shouldn’t be soaked / don’t germinate
Featured image via: loseweightandgainhealth.com