Prep right to maximise your health – Nuts and seeds

Nuts and seeds contain differing amounts of important nutrients including vitamins, essential fatty acids and antioxidants. Higher consumptions of nuts and seeds has been proved to reduce cardiovascular and heart diseases (1). But is the way that we are consuming these foods aiding or disrupting our health. Soaking nuts is essential in order to be able to digest them. This is to reduce the levels of inhibitors and anti-nutrients. If you suffer from inflammation, autoimmune issues or other illness – anti-nutrients like lectins & phytic acid found in nuts and seeds can limit the amount of vitamins absorbed by binding to the minerals in the gastrointestinal tract meaning they cannot be absorbed by the intestine, leading to various nutrients deficiencies. They also contain a high amount of enzyme inhibitors which make them hard to digest.  

How to boost absorption? 

Soaking is essential! By soaking you are helping to break down the inhibitor properties and anti-nutrients so that these foods can be broken down properly by your body. As a general rule of thumb – the harder the nut the longer the soak.  

  • Hazelnuts, pistachios and almonds need 8-12 hours +.  
  • Walnuts, pecans and Brazil nuts require slightly less soaking time due to being oilier.  
  • Pine nuts, cashews and macadamias contain the highest amount of fats and require 2-4 hours soak – anything longer may break down their health promoting oils.  

Always soak with a little sprinkle of salt. Salt helps to neutralise the enzymes. Cover with a breathable dish cloth in a cool dark room. Then drain the excess water and rinse well – proceed to lightly toast in the lowest temperature that you can set your oven to until they become slightly crisp. Do not be alarmed to see murky water or food particles at the bottom – these are the anti-nutrients being removed from the nuts and seeds. If any of the nuts have floated to the top – these are most likely mouldy and not uncommon. Simply discard any that fly to the top! 

Reasons to soak your nuts and seeds: 

  1. Unlocking the nutrient potential. By soaking you are increasing the potency of vitamins like A, B and C, live enzymes are released, and more protein becomes available. 
  1. Improved digestion. By soaking nuts and seeds you are tricking nature into assuming it is safe to germinate and neutralizes enzyme inhibitors – meaning you can break down these products more easily. 
  1. Improved taste and easier for food prep. By soaking you are softening the food which makes it easier to use within cooking. This also helps to improve the consistency and texture of dishes using these products. 

Important note:  

Soaked nuts must be used the same day. Do not leave nuts soaking for days within your fridge. 

Sprouting nuts is a different method and needs planning and research prior to undergoing. 

Quick soaking using boiling water kills the digestive enzymes present in raw foods which then takes away the nutritional benefits.  

References:

  1. Blomhoff, R., Carlsen, M., Andersen, L., & Jacobs, D. (2006). Health benefits of nuts: potential role of antioxidants. British Journal Of Nutrition96(S2), S52-S60. doi: 10.1017/bjn20061864 
  2. Açar, Ö., Gökmen, V., Pellegrini, N., & Fogliano, V. (2009). Direct evaluation of the total antioxidant capacity of raw and roasted pulses, nuts and seeds. European Food Research And Technology229(6), 961-969. doi: 10.1007/s00217-009-1131-z 
  3. The Pegan Diet. (2021). Retrieved 4 May 2021, from https://books.google.co.uk/books/about/The_Pegan_Diet.html?id=FFniDwAAQBAJ&redir_esc=y

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