Nuts. An interesting, yet slightly confusing topic.
If I sent you to the store to purchase some nuts, what would you buy?
Roasted, Salted Peanuts?
There are many options in the grocery store, and many different brands to choose from. There are also several important things I’ve learned about nuts in the past couple years.
1. Roasted nuts are NOT good for you. They contain oils that, when heated, can become rancid…but the problem is that you can’t tell when they’re rancid. So munching on roasted nuts is like eating handfuls of free radicals (you know, those terrible things that cause cancer and cell damage?).
2. Raw nuts are better for you. They contain intact oils, so you would actually be able to taste the rancidity of the nut if it had gone bad.
3. The problem with raw nuts is that although they contain the enzymes needed to digest themselves in your body, they also contain enzyme inhibitors.
The solution to the roasted nut dilemma is easy—-stop eating them! So, let’s just focus on how to deal with the dilemma of enzyme inhibitors in raw nuts.
Enzymes are important for digestion and metabolism, so if a food comes ready with its own enzymes, this is great for you! Plant-based foods (veg, fruit, seeds, nuts, etc) have their own enzymes—but when they are cooked (above about 115 degrees) or otherwise processed, the enzymes are destroyed. When this happens, your body has to provide the enzymes (read: digestion is harder and metabolism slows down—you gain weight or can’t lose it, and you feel blah).
When considering nuts, there is another important step in benefitting from the enzymes besides just eating them raw, because the enzyme inhibitors prevent the enzymes from doing their jobs. You have to deactivate the enzyme inhibitors (doesn’t this sound sort of like a video game?).
Soak the raw nuts in filtered water (purified would be best, but filtered is realistic!).
Different types of nuts and seeds require different lengths of soaking time. A rule of thumb is that the harder the nut, the longer the time needed. For the most part, if you soak a hard nut overnight, you have deactivated the enzyme inhibitors. Softer nuts and seeds just take a few hours.
After your nuts are soaked, keep them in a covered dish in the fridge for a few days. Because they don’t stay fresh for a long period of time after you soak them, make sure you plan out how many you’re really going to eat/use within a few days. If you have a food dehydrator, you can dehydrate them after soaking and they’ll last much longer.
In the end, it may sound easier to just cut nuts out of your diet 🙂 I put off trying to soak and dry nuts for a few years, just because I felt like it would be a pain. It’s really not so bad, and how great that we can get all those wonderful benefits that nuts and seeds have to offer, while eliminating the bad effects of roasted and unsoaked nuts!
If you’re skeptical, try it on a very small batch. Let me know how it goes. I think I’ll share the recipe I used all those nuts and seeds for next 🙂