You know that nuts are full of healthy fats and nutrients, but what you probably don’t know is that your body isn’t actually able to absorb most of them and that nuts can actually cause digestive problems. My guess is that there are millions and millions of dollars and lots of lobbying being done put into the effort of shielding us from this fact and further brainwash us into thinking that something we’re consuming is healthier than it actually is. Even more disturbing is that though they can legally be branded ‘raw,’ 99% of almonds (and most nuts in general) are not actually raw!!
“Truly raw means that the nuts do not undergo pasteurization, which requires heat if they are organic, or chemical treatment, if they are inorganic,” explains Bruce Namenson, founder of Organic Living Superfoods. “For example, in the US, truly raw almonds cannot be sold due to FDA rules that require pasteurization, however, they can be acquired mostly from Valencia in Spain or Italy.”
Unfortunately that means that the benefits you always hear about have definitely been way over hyped. “Most ‘raw’ nuts that you buy contain anti-nutrients such as phytic acid to protect the nuts in nature from germinating too quickly and spoiling. Since the human body does not produce the enzyme phytase, it cannot break down the phytic acid,” says Namenson. This is why our bodies won’t absorb all the good stuff and we might even have digestive upset.
Before you start thinking about cutting out nuts from your diet, there’s a simple answer to get all the benefits. Soaking your nuts in water! You literally just need to put your nuts in a glass bowl and pour water over them (see this post from celebrity nutritionist Kimberly Snyder to get more information and for how long you need to soak them). I soak mine overnight so I don’t need to “check up on them.”
“Soaking nuts allows for the activation of living enzymes, transforms the fats into healthier fats, and makes the nuts/seeds more bioavailable and assimilable to the human body. It is basically food in its most nutrient dense state,” explains Namenson. Some experts also say it cuts calories. After removing the nuts from water, triple rinse them and if you have a dehydrator you can dehydrate them at low temperatures. Otherwise just let them dry naturally. Be careful about storage, however, as the wet nuts are prone to molding and like all good, natural things won’t last as long. If you don’t have a dehydrator Namenson suggests putting the nuts in a jar with a breathable cheese cloth cover with an elastic and letting them dry for 24 hours.
Often people suggest pealing the “shells” of nuts like almonds after soaking, but according to Namenson it’s not necessary as long as they’re soaked for enough time; if not soaked, the skin can cause intestinal irritation.
It’s also worth noting that buying organic isn’t always worth the premium – if you’re trying to save money, buy from your local farmers! And again, you’re a lot better off buying soaked nuts from brands like Organic Living Superfoods or Shoresheitzion or buying whatever nuts you can afford and soaking them yourself than needlessly wasting money on an organic stamp. The aforementioned brands also make the most amazing sweets and crackers all using raw nuts, seeds, grains, and beans (all of those should be soaked too!).
“Today, organic certifications have become a huge bureaucracy and companies, such as ours, have to basically employ a part or full time individual to maintain the paperwork required for the annual certification. Many times, we can buy nuts/seeds that are pesticide free which for all intents and purposes are organic within the meaning of organic but since they are not “Certified” by a body of the USDA, I cannot use them in our organic product offerings. Some small farms that produce high quality pesticide free products cannot possibly maintain their costly certifications so have to label their products conventional despite the quality and lack of pesticides.”
Another bonus? When you soak your nuts they grow!