As far as nutritious foods go, nuts are pretty high on the Healthy Food List. There’s plenty to love about these nourishing nibbles! Nuts are rich in protein, healthy fats, fibre, vitamin E, minerals, plus they make an easy, portable and super-filling snack.
The trouble is, your body may not be getting the full nutritional potential of nuts or seeds. Find out why your body may not be absorbing their maximum goodness, and what you can do about it!
A Nutty Natural Mechanism
Just like any plant or animal in its natural environment, nuts have a number of in-built natural systems to promote normal growth. A developing nut stores much of its energy in the form of phytic acid. It taps into this energy when a nut undergoes rapid growth, such as during germination.
However, this sprouting process is inhibited by the presence of enzyme inhibitors, which remain in the nut after it is harvested. After all, you wouldn’t want your almonds to turn into a small tree in the pantry!
Whilst phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors naturally occur within growing nuts, they are not so compatible with the human body. Whilst a moderate intake of phytates may be associated with lowered cancer risk, an excessive intake may interfere with our bodies’ digestion and absorption.
Phytic acid binds with minerals and stops our bodies from absorbing these major nutrients properly. Enzyme inhibitors in the nuts can also interfere with our natural digestive enzymes, further reducing our ability to digest and uptake nutrients.
Because nuts have sooooo much goodness, we want to extract all their rich benefits when we eat them! However, much of this goodness is essentially ‘locked up’ by enzyme inhibitors and phytic acid, preventing our body from utilising nuts’ nutrients fully. So what can we do about it?
The Benefits Of Activating Your Nuts & Seeds
Ancient cultures have been activating nuts and seeds throughout recorded history. There are accounts of even the Aztecs using this practice! Whilst this may have been initiated as a method of preserving food stores, is it also possible that our predecessors intuited this as a healthier way of eating?
Activation stimulates the early germination and sprouting process within the nut and seed. This has a twofold benefit; firstly, enzyme inhibitors are disarmed so that the plant can begin its next stage of growth. At the same time, phytic acid levels drop as the nut taps into this energy store in preparation for its impending growth spurt.
The good news? The substances which block nutrient absorption are disabled, whilst the other beneficial nutrients remain intact. We end up with a delicious, nutritious snack that our bodies can easily digest and absorb!
How To Activate Your Nuts & Seeds
While you can buy activated nuts and seeds from health food stores, they do tend to be a bit more pricey. Alternatively, you can easily create your own at home! Here’s how:
- Pour 2 cups of your favorite nuts and seeds into a large bowl (it’s worthwhile making a larger batch in one go).
- Cover your nuts with filtered water mixed with sea salt (most nuts need approximately 2 teaspoons of salt).
- Make sure your nuts are completely submerged in the salt water, with an inch or two on top to spare. The nuts will absorb water as they soak and may grow mold if not kept under water.
- Most nuts and seeds should be soaked for 7 to 12 hours, although almonds need a little longer at 12 to 14 hours.
- After soaking, strain away the excess water.
- Place nuts on baking trays or dehydrator racks. We like using Excalibur Food Dehydrators.
- Slowly roast at very low heat (150°F/65°C) in an oven or dehydrator for 12 to 24 hours (roasting time will vary on the nut you are using).
- The nuts are ready when they are completely dried out (do they pass the Crunch Test when you bite into them?). The nuts will spoil easily and become moldy if they are not fully dry.
- Store your delicious activated nuts and seeds in an airtight container with the fridge.