What’s The Deal With Soaking Your Nuts? Phytic Acid – That’s What!
Unless you suffer from a nut or seed allergy most of us have enjoyed the crunchy sensation when biting into our favorite nuts or seeds. What you might not have known until reading this blog is that you need to take an extra step before biting into those delicious snacks to optimize the nutritional potential they hold. And you might ask what is that step! That’s right soaking your nuts. I must admit I do not always soak my nuts but each day strive to make healthier decisions for me and my family and you can often find soaked nuts in my refrigerator as a healthy snack. I was first exposed to so many things in Chiropractic school and soaking my nuts and seeds was one of those memorable experiences. I remember a long bus ride to Texas with a bunch of my rugby mates to play a match and one of the Australians passing a bag of seasoned and soaked almonds. The consistency was so different in anything I had ever tried that it will be one of those things that I may remember forever.
If you have never tried soaking your nuts and seeds, then you should try it!! How else are you going to stimulate new neurons in the brain if you do not try something new? You’ll notice that soaked walnuts do not have that astringent, mouth-puckering taste to them. This is because when soaking walnuts, the tannins rinse away, leaving behind a softer, more buttery nut. The soak water from nuts and seeds should always be discarded and never used as water in a recipe.
The website Whole Lifestyle Nutrition asks the question, “Is it necessary to soak your nuts?” The answer is “absolutely” they go on to explain. Nuts have phytic acid. Phytic acid is also found in grains and legumes. Just as with grains and legumes, soaking nuts is essential for proper digestions. When eating nuts that haven’t been soaked, the phytic acid binds to minerals in the gastrointestinal tract and cannot be absorbed in the intestine. [Click to Tweet] To many, bound minerals can lead to mineral deficiencies. By soaking, you are breaking down the phytic acid so it is absorbed properly. Nuts also have high amounts of enzymes inhibitors. This is another reason why un-soaked nuts are hard to digest. Soaking nuts neutralizes the enzymes allowing for proper digestion.
As a functional medicine doctor, I often discuss nuts with my patients in relation to digestive health. I have heard many explanations of why not to eat nuts and seeds that state they are bad for the gut. None of the arguments have convinced me at this point. I will recommend those who come into the office with gastrointestinal inflammation, that soaking their nuts is a piece in the puzzle that helps allow their digestive system to recover to optimal function. I might even have some people avoid nuts completely for a period as I have seen gastrointestinal markers improve when people do avoid nuts temporarily. The Paleo Mom has a great article on her investigation into the topic of nuts and why they are or are not good for your gut. She says “the science is lacking,” which I agree and will continue to investigate further as the subject is addressed further.
Hopefully at this point, the idea of soaking your nuts not only makes you think differently about the foods you are eating but also may inspire you to try new ideas with nuts such as making your own nut milk. I recently tried making almond milk and what a hit!! So next time you’re munching on some crunchy nuts, save some and soak a handful if you’ve never tried it!
Dr. Andrew Kender, D.C.
October 7, 2015
Functional Endocrinology of Ohio
Akron: 2800 S. Arlington Road, Akron, Ohio 44312 (330) 644-5488
Cleveland: 6200 Rockside Woods Blvd., Ste. 100, Independence, Ohio 44131 (216) 236-0060
Dr. Keith S. Ungar and Dr. Andrew Kender, Chiropractic Physicians