Is Soaking Nuts Really Necessary?

Have you ever eaten a large serving of nuts and felt a little unsettled later? Perhaps you even saw what looked like chopped nuts in your stool. Digestion of nuts requires careful and thoughtful chewing and is aided by soaking and drying nuts before consumption to reduce phytic acid.

Phytic acid is found not only in nuts, but also legumes, oil seeds, and grains.1 When you eat foods high in phytic acid, the phytic acid binds to minerals in your gastrointestinal tract, and decreases the absorption of iron, zinc calcium, magnesium and manganese.2-5 Consuming soaked and dried nuts is one way to decrease phytic acid and unlock the many nutrients found in nuts.

While decreased absorption of these essential nutrients is an important aspect to consider if you are going to add significantly more nuts, legumes, and seeds to your diet, there is early research that suggests that consuming some phytic acid may be beneficial in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. Until we learn more about the link between phytic acid and cognitive function, consuming a variety of nuts, both soaked and raw, can provide you with healthy fats, protein, and fiber.

When you soak nuts (legumes and grains too), you are breaking down the phytic acid, which allows the nutrients in the nuts, and other foods you consumer, to be absorbed properly. Nuts also have high amounts of enzymes inhibitors, which is another reason why unsoaked nuts are hard to digest. Like with phytic acid, soaking nuts neutralizes the enzymes allowing for proper digestion.

So, here is a step-by-step guide for soaking and roasting your nuts….

Written by Marci L. Hardy, PhD

  1. Gupta RK, Gangoliya SS, Singh NK. Reduction of phytic acid and enhancement of bioavailable micronutrients in food grains. Journal of Food Science and Technology. February 2015; 52(2): 676–684.
  2. Hallberg L, Brune M, Rossander L. Iron-absorption in man—ascorbic-acid and dose-dependent inhibition by phytate. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 1989;49:140–144.
  3. Reddy MB, Hurrell RF, Juillerat MA, Cook JD. The influence of different protein sources on phytate inhibition of nonheme-iron absorption in humans. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 1996;63:203–207.
  4.  Bohn T, Davidsson L, Walczyk T, Hurrell RF. Phytic acid added to white-wheat bread inhibits fractional apparent magnesium absorption in humans. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2004;79:418–423. 
  5. Phillippy BQ. Transport of calcium across Caco-2 cells in the presence of inositol hexakisphosphate. Nutritional Research. 2006;26:146–149.

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