Posted on Mar 13, 2020, 6 p.m.
Nuts are some of the most nutritious foods to be found on the planet, they are rich sources of vitamins and minerals as well as fiber, healthy fats and antioxidants.
While nuts are good sources of healthy nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, some of these nutrient dense heart friendly choices also contain phytic acid which a problematic substance unique to plant seeds. Used commercially as a preservative for its antioxidants properties, phytic acid is also known as an anti-nutrient because it disrupts the absorption of minerals within the body specifically binding to calcium, iron, and zinc, thus consuming too much may cause mineral deficiencies.
Many healthy plant based foods contain phytic acid, removing them all from these foods is pretty much impossible, and just because a food may contain it doesn’t mean you need to exclude it from your diet. But there are ways to reduce its amount such as sprouting, soaking and fermenting.
Sprouting by soaking them in clean water will help them to germinate and degrade most of the phytic acid content as well as tannins and enzyme inhibitors. Just soaking them in water overnight will also reduce the phytic acid content and make them easier to digest. Fermentation produces acids that promote degradation of phytate which is the form phytic acid takes once seeds germinate; combination of sprouting and fermentation is said to be the most effective way of decreasing the amount of phytic acid in nuts.
Sprouting may be time consuming but it offers several benefits, such as in addition to removing phytic acid it helps to release the full flavor to make the nuts taste even better and be more crunchy. Removing the phytic acid, tannis, and enzyme inhibitors makes the nuts easier for the digestive system to break them down and absorb the nutrient content, and the easier digestion means the nuts will pass through the gut more smoothly.
Sprouting also reduces the amount of starch in the nuts while helping the body to absorb more of the nutrients. While sprouting may seem easy it requires knowledge of how long different types of nuts need to be soaked and the dehydration method that will best suit each type of nut. To increase the shelf life of the nuts after they have been sprouted and germinated it is recommended to dehydrate them. Avoid dehydrating them above 120 degrees to best preserve sprouted nuts as this can cause them to oxidize and turn rancid.
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This article is not intended to provide medical diagnosis, advice, treatment, or endorsement