Over the last couple of years, my family has made diet changes based on our health issues. I have been struggling with my gut issues for awhile. So, my family is eating fewer grains and more nuts from almond milk, almond flour, and raw nuts. While investigating my issues, I learned that their nut consumption might be causing more harm than good. Seeds, nuts, beans, and grains all contain phytic acid, which could have detrimental health effects. Read on to learn why soak nuts.
Before I begin. I am not a doctor, nor am I dispensing medical advice. I just want to share with you what I have learned. Then, you make up your mind.
Back to the family.
Some Historical Health Background.
The older boys are now following Tim Ferris’ 4 Hour Body, which is a low-carbohydrate, no grains, and no fruit diet. (I call it the “I want a six pack” diet since it focuses on burning fat as fuel for your body.) He does allow some nuts, but not too many.
Oldest boy is gluten-free since he is sensitive. (He breaks out in rashes when he eats gluten.)
Hubs is following more of an Atkins diet which is a no carbohydrate diet with good fats to get his blood sugars under control. Last child dislikes most foods and follows the “I love meat” diet.
I have to cook for their variety of diets and look for common ground. (Yes. I have become a short order cook.)
So our household is now consuming almond milk, nuts, almond flour, and occasionally gluten-free grains. (You get one cheat day on Ferris’ program.)
As you know, I have been struggling with my gut health and started to soak my nuts to make them more digestible. I am not a nut lover because I find that I can’t eat just a few. The rest of the few wind up on my hips.
You probably are asking why don’t they drink coconut milk in lieu of almond milk? The older boys simply don’t like the taste of coconut milk. I prefer coconut milk.
Learn Why Soak Nuts
Okay, back to the problem at hand–phytic acid. There seem to be two camps on this theory. Some think that as long as you eat a diet rich in leafy greens, meat, and seafood, phytic acid isn’t a problem. Others think phytic acid can cause mineral absorption problems.
What is Phytic Acid?
According to a study by Enrico Doria, Luciano Galleschi, et al.,
“[p]hytic acid is the primary storage form of phosphorus in seeds, representing 50% to over 80% of total phosphorus in mature seeds and accounting for one to several percent of the dry weight.”
The primary function of phosphorus in seeds is an antioxidant for germinating seeds, as well as the storage of phosphates for energy. So, the seed uses the phytic acid to protect itself.
What is the Problem with Phytic acid?
Here’s my research:
Seeds such as beans, grains, and nuts contain phytic acid.
New York Times best-selling author Chris Kessler, M.S. L.Ac, states in his article, “Another reason you shouldn’t go nuts on nuts,” that nuts contain more phytic acid than grains. He warns people who opted for a Paleo lifestyle, not to go overboard with eating nuts on lieu of grains.
We use almond flour in many bread or dessert recipes. In fact, I add almond meal to a zucchini recipe to give it body. The boys drink almond milk. We have become an almond joy family.
Kressler provides an excellent chart on the breakdown of foods that contain certain phytic acid levels.
Just to give you some nut examples, according to Kressler’s chart based on milligrams per 100 grams of dry weight, certain nuts contain the following levels of phytic acid levels:
Peanuts ungerminated –821
On the other hand, coconut meat (357) corn (367) and polished rice (11.5) contain significantly less phytic acid.
Studies have shown phytic acid can:
On the other hand, according to Dr. Michael Roussell, Ph.D., a nutritional consultant argues in Shape Magazine‘s article that we shouldn’t worry about phytic acid if we are eating a healthy diet. He states:
“However, nuts, seeds, and cereal grains are not the only sources of these nutrients, and most often they aren’t even a key contributor in your diet. The major sources of iron, calcium, magnesium, and zinc for most Americans are:
Iron: Red meat, seafood, nuts, dark green vegetables
Calcium: Dairy, dark green vegetables, beans
Magnesium: Spinach, nuts, and seeds (I recommend supplementing with extra magnesium anyway)
Zinc: Seafood (shellfish), meat, nuts”
The question is, do we eat a healthy diet?
In the meantime, I am soaking my nuts. Plus, I like the taste of dehydrated nuts.
Learn How to Soak Nuts.
I use the authors, Sally Fallon and Mary Enig’s Nourishing Traditions method of soaking. Most nuts are very similar with some variation based on their density.
1. Use chlorine-free water in a 2:1 ratio of water to seed.
2. Add salt to the water before adding the nuts. Dissolve the salt. (I buy this unrefined salt.)
3. Add the nuts.
4. Let it stand for in a warm place for 7 hours or more. Put a pot lid on top. I tend to soak overnight. Note, soak cashews no more than 6 hours. They can get really slimy otherwise.
5. See how much salt to add to each batch below.
6. After the nuts soak, pour out the water and rinse the nuts.
7. Dehydrate them for 12 to 24 hours in a dehydrator or your oven. I set my oven at 135 degrees. In my dehydrator, I set the temperature at 105 degrees. (I have this dehydrator.)
It takes 24 hours for the seeds to dry. I err on the side of more time since I don’t want the nuts to mold.
(You don’t have to dehydrate them if you are using it for something like nut milk or a recipe that uses wet ingredients like a dessert. Be sure to use your soaked nuts for nut butters too.)
8. Store in the refrigerator or air-tight container. I use the nuts right away.
Salt per Nut:
Almonds, Peanuts, Pine Nuts, Cashews, Macadamia, and Hazelnuts: 1 Tablespoon of salt per 4 cups of nuts.
Remember to only soak Cashews no more than 6 hours and be sure the cashews are raw, not the salty kind.
Pecans and Walnuts: 2 tablespoons of salt per 4 cups of nuts
Pumpkin: 2 Tablespoons per 4 cups of nuts.
As I mentioned above, I happen to like the taste of dehydrated nuts. Walnuts aren’t as bitter when dehydrated.
So this may be a bad thing or a good thing. I do find my hands reaching for the dehydrated nuts until my hips start to scream, “walk away from the nuts. Just simply walk away.”
Join the Conversation.
Do you soak nuts and if so, do you find that you digest them better?
PS I am thinking of growing an almond tree. Am I nuts?
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