April 3, 2008

You Ask, I Answer: Soaking Almonds/Raw Foods

My sister-in-law buys only raw nuts and then soaks them for 24 hours and dehydrates them before eating them.

This apparently helps them to germinate and then consequently helps us to digest them better (or at least absorb more nutrients)??

Is there any validity to this?

Am I getting the same nutritional benefit from a nut whether it has been soaked/dehydrated or not?

While the soaking philosophy makes sense to me - I'm not sure I have the time/energy for this added step.


-- Katie Bandelin

El Paso, TX

Raw food advocates claim that almonds – and other nuts – should be soaked for approximately 12 to 24 hours before being consumed so as to "neutralize enzyme inhibitors".

Many followers of a raw diet go as far as believing that non-soaked almonds are “empty calories” since, without the enzyme inhibitors removed, our bodies do not absorb vitamins or minerals from them.

Soaking almonds, they say, makes digestive enzymes, amino acids, and vitamins B, C (which, by the way, almonds do not contain) more readily available.

In case you haven't caught on yet, a large component of the raw food movement surrounds enzymes.

Followers claim that heating foods to high temperatures – and, in this case, not soaking beans and legumes prior to eating them – renders naturally occurring enzymes in these foods useless.

A lack of enzymes in our diet, they claim, causes us to accumulate toxins in our systems and become sick.

From a nutritional biochemistry standpoint, enzymes are necessary for many metabolic processes.

And, raw food advocates are right -- heat does kill some enzymes. Plant enzymes, which our stomach acids destroy anyway.

So, roasting a potato kills some enzymes – the same ones that would be destroyed once they encountered our acidic gastric juices.

Plant enzymes are very important – for plants!

We need human enzymes. Fortunately, our bodies produce them. We do not need to seek them out in food.

In the specific case of almonds, there is no reason to believe that soaking them enhances nutrient absorption.

Keep in mind that the research on almonds does not utilize soaked almonds.

Recent research at Tufts’ Antioxidants Research Laboratory, for instance, determined, via blood testing, that daily almond consumption (of non-soaked almonds) increased vitamin E in the body.

In short, almonds (and other nuts and seeds) are healthy, whole foods that offer plenty of nutrition without human intervention.


Anonymous said...

I agree that an almond is an almond is an almond -- but just for fun (I did it as a "science experiment"): try soaking them once, they taste like a whole different food, like young walnuts straight from the shell, crunchy in a different, fresh way.

Anonymous said...

In the answer above it is claimed that almonds do not contain B and C vitamins.I would like to see the evidence this claim is based on before believing it.Almonds do contain B6 and B2 vitamins but do not contain C vitamin.If it was meant that almonds do not contain C vitamin it should have been expressed more accurately instead of posting confusing and false information on a public forum.

Andy Bellatti said...

The parenthetical comment only applies to Vitamin C.

The comma between "Vitamins B" and "C" makes that clear.

Otherwise, the phrasing would be "Vitamins B and C (neither of which almonds contain."

Lyle said...

Try soaking your almonds and be your own judge. Do they taste better? Not all studies are valid. How do you feel after eating soaked almonds vs non-soaked?
Soaked almonds taste better to me, and work better with my body. How can I know that without a PH D?
I just let my body be the judge.

RawFoodGuy said...

When you soak almonds they act like any "seed" or nut, they start to "grow" when they get wet. This starts enzymatic reactions within the nut breaking down complex carbohydrates, fats and proteins into simple starches, fatty acids and amino acids in order for the new plant to better utilize them. This also makes the nutrients in the soaks nuts easier to digest and absorb by people, too.
- RawFoodGuy (www.RawFoodLife.com)

Andy Bellatti said...


I understand that soaking can help make a food easier to digest for some people, but an unsoaked nut is just as nutritious as one that has been soaked.

There is no difference; one is not healthier than the other.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to jump in late. But the line about vitamins in almonds is unclear:
"Soaking almonds, they say, makes digestive enzymes, amino acids, and vitamins B, C (which, by the way, almonds do not contain) more readily available." Even with the comma between B ad C, the parenthetical phrase could be applied to whole list (enzymes, amino acids, and vitamins) and clearly almonds do contain these. It would be much clearer to have said,
"....makes digestive enzymes, amino acids, and vitamins like B and C (though almonds do not contain C)....

Making sure the wide world of readers get the accurate info.