People often ask me if it’s healthy to eat nuts and seeds. My answer?
When nuts and seeds are raw or roasted, they are less digestible and absorbable. I’ll explain why.
Nuts and seeds have high amounts of enzyme inhibitors–enzymes are what your body uses to digest foods. When you soak nuts in warm salt water, there are digestive and health benefits. The water helps neutralize many of the enzyme inhibitors that interfere with digestion as well as increase the bioavailability of many nutrients, especially b-vitamins and protein. The salt helps activate enzymes that deactivate the enzyme inhibitors present in nuts.
Within 7-24 hours (depending on the seed or nut), many of the enzyme inhibitors are broken down. Then you can use the oven or dehydrator to make the nuts or seeds nice and crispy (and shelf stable).
The harder the nut or seed, the longer it needs to soak. Here are some good guidelines:
Long-soak nuts (almonds, pistachios, and hazelnuts) need at least 8 hours.
Medium-soak nuts and seeds (pecans, walnuts, Brazil nuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds), 6-7 hours
Short-soak nuts (cashews, macadamias, and pine nuts) have the highest fat content and require only 2 to 4 hours soaking. I recommend not soaking these nuts for longer than 4 hours as it breaks down their healthy oils.
- 2 cups of raw, organic nuts or seeds (it is better to soak one kind per container, not mixed nuts, for example in case of varying soaking time)
- 3-4 cups of warm filtered water (to cover nuts)
- 1 tablespoon of salt
What to Do:
- Place the warm water in a large bowl or jar (half gallon or larger). Add the salt and let dissolve.
- Add the nuts or seeds, making sure they are completely submerged in the water.
- Leave uncovered on the counter or other warm place (not the refrigerator) for at least 7 hours, preferably overnight.
- Rinse in a colander and spread on a baking sheet or dehydrator sheet and add some sea salt if desired. Bake in the oven at the lowest temperature (150-170 F if your oven goes that low) or dehydrate until completely dry. This step is important, as any remaining moisture in the nuts or seeds can cause them to mold. Dehydrating time can often be up to 24 hours. You’ll know they are done when you eat one and it’s nice and crispy (no chewiness).
- NOTE: If you plan to use nuts or seeds to make homemade almond milk or any other variety, this is the best time, as they are already softened.