Soaking Seeds and Nuts: Why and How

August 03 2012

Seeds and nuts, like chia and almonds, are convenient little energy powerhouses. They contain the perfect ratio of protein, fats, and carbohydrates, and are incredibly versatile. One commonly forgotten fact is that ancient cultures soaked their nuts, seeds, and grains. Want to know more? Here’s the scoop.

Seeds and nuts are covered in something called an enzyme inhibitor. This is a protective barrier, preventing germination until prime weather conditions are met (rain and lots of sun). In the wild, enzyme inhibitors ensure that the nut or seed doesn’t sprout prematurely, before reproduction occurs. In the kitchen, these enzyme inhibitors prevent our bodies from absorbing and digesting all the minerals, vitamins, and proteins packed inside. The breakdown of the enzyme inhibitors is achieved simply by soaking.

Just like many health practices, soaking and dehydrating nuts/seeds takes a little extra forethought and effort, but it is a simple practice to adopt. Most nuts and seeds will shed their enzymes within 12-24 hours.

Almonds should soak the longest, and their water should be switched at 12 hours. This is because almonds are pasteurized using steam or chemicals, due to an e-coli scare a few years ago. Seeds, like flax and chia, are hydrophilic, which means they will absorb their weight (and more) in whatever liquid they are soaked in and form a gel like consistency. The best way to soak chia seeds can be found here.

While soaking and sprouting nuts/seeds can help you digest and absorb more nutrients, it is not essential. They have numerous health benefits either way. In fact, if you are seeking a simple, convenient snack, you will be hard pressed to find a better option. A handful of walnuts here, some chia on your salad there – all delicious and nutritious! 

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