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Just found out one is supposed to soak them before eating, and I quote:

 

 

A porcupine has quills, opossums act dead when threatened, and newts turn their ribs into spikes when in danger.

Talk about defense mechanisms!

But, did you know? Nuts have similar mechanisms, too? No spikes or death rays… but they do have a natural component that repels predators so that they can grow to full maturity. From almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, brazil nuts and everything in between.

 

The major defense mechanism in nuts is phytic acid. When something that contains phytic acid is eaten, the acid binds to minerals like zinc, iron, magnesium, calcium, chromium, and manganese in the gastrointestinal tract, which inhibits our digestive systems’ ability to break the nut down properly. (That’s why when you eat nuts you often see undigested bits in your stool the very next day…)

 

 

When eating nuts that haven’t been soaked, the phytic acid binds to minerals in the gastrointestinal tract and can not be absorbed in the intestine and too many bound minerals can lead to mineral deficiencies. By soaking, you are breaking down the phytic acid so it can be absorbed properly.

Nuts also have high amounts of enzymes inhibitors. This is another reason why un soaked nuts are hard to digest. Soaking nuts neutralizes the enzymes allowing for proper digestion.

 

Apparently 6-12 hours will do the trick.

 

Sounds a bit over the top to me, but are you guys soaking your nuts?  :Pxyz

Edited by The Observer

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Sounds a bit over the top to me, but are you guys soaking your nuts?  :Pxyz

 

Not usually, it is not practical when taking them at work. Also, to keep the convenient property of a food which can be stored for months without trouble, you should soak them and subsequently dry them. Sometimes though I soak very briefly almonds in boiling water (30 seconds) and then peel them. I wonder if it destroys phytates and likewise enzymes.

Another aspect: some people have been eating nuts and seeds as  substantial part of their diet for decades. I, for example, have been doing it for 40 years. Does it make sense that the body develops an adaptive mechanism to phytates (within limits of course)? My usual dose of nuts is at least 3 ounces, up to 6 ounces and can feel no digestive problems. In another thread the adaptive mechanism of gut microbioma is being discussed related to legumes.

Edited by mccoy

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Folks, the issue of phytic acid is complicated, but not hard to decide on. I don't soak for a very simple reason: the studies showing benefits of nut consumption are overwhelmingly done in people who don't do any soaking. If the results are positive for them, phytic acid and all, why should I do anything to alter that behavior on the speculative mechanistic theory of how things are supposed to work? If I soak, how do I know that I am not removing part or all of the benefit of nut consumption? The soaking idea is speculation about how the benefits work - there is absolutely no guarantee that this specualtion is correct (and indeed, we've seen very often such speculation to be wrong). The studies prove benefits without soaking - that's the key to me. I am not going to risk those benefits by altering the nuts on the speculation that somehow everyone who is not soaking is doing it wrong, and that soaking will give better results. There is no proof that soaking will give better results - show me the studies. So why do it? The fact is that we are dealing with extremely complex dynamic systems and altering any variable (such as soaking vs not soaking), might have unanticipated consequences - phytic acid might be part of the benefit, through long consumption of phytic acid we might have adaptations in our microbiome, and a thousand other variables interacting dynamically. Isolating some effect such as "phytic acid binds to minerals" in vitro guarantees nothing. The best way for us laypersons to approach this is to treat our bodies as black boxes - food goes in and we obtain results through all cause mortality. If UNsoaked nuts show good results in all cause mortality by going into the black box, that's enough for me, and I leave the exact workings of the black box to the scientists (as I'm not one) - and how the black box works inside is a work in progress with many red herrings and wrong turns. I'm not going to stake my health on unproven speculation about the insides of the black box - unless I have absolutely no choice. In the case of nuts we do have a choice - to consume them unsoaked based on proven benefits; for kidney beans, we have evidence that soaking is beneficial. So I act accordingly. YMMV.

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So why do it?

Maybe you've come across this one about Brazil nuts (which I avoid):

 

Arrus, K, Blank, et al. Microbiological and Aflatoxin Evaluation of Brazil NuPods and the Effects of Unit Processing Operations. J Food Prot. 2005;68(5): 1060-5

 

Like you and your stated reasons, I mostly don't soak them either. But I sometimes will if for no other reason than the rancid nuts and seeds tend to rise to the surface, so I toss those. Who wants an unnecessary battle between my chemicals versus rancidity?

 

Also the observation that soaked nuts begin to sprout is a beautiful reminder of the miracle of life, that sounds woo, but wouldn't it seem that certain chemicals within the soaked ones come alive and these may be beneficial? Or not, haha.... Finally, soaking the things makes them softer and perhaps easier on my teeth. Ever experienced tooth pain from eating soft rocklike almonds? Then again, chewing hard nuts might strengthen jaw muscles, so.... But, like you say, it seems like soaking benefits are speculations since the nut industry is doing just fine financially, thank you, so why soak the crop with nabobs of nutty negativity?

Edited by Sthira

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Well, the context in which soaking was discussed was phytic acid. I continue to regard that as a fraught issue when it comes to nuts. Who knows, maybe there are contexts in which phytic acid is a net positive for health rather than net negative. Studies on health outcomes seem to indicate that unsoaked nuts are just fine. But does that mean that there aren't different contexts where soaking might be beneficial - apart from impact on phytic acid - of course not. A friend of mine had his dentist recommend that he soak his almonds (which my friend consumes daily), because it would lessen the stress on his teeth. That might be a legitimate issue for my friend - I am not 100% sure it applies to everyone, as it might be benficial for teeth roots and the ridge bones to experience stress (from chewing non-soaked almonds). Then again, it might - perhaps - be beneficial to lessen the stress through soaking if you have a lot of tooth wear from eating tons of F&V (like many of us here do). It's a balancing act. Perhaps for some soaking might be just the ticket, for others less so. It comes down to the individual and their needs. I tend to buy my nuts from reliable places like Trader Joe's almonds that I can be reasonably sure of the provenance of their products, storage and transportation practices and high turnover - so I don't need to soak in order to get rid of rancid nuts/seeds. But if you have an issue with that, and soaking solves it - more power to you. Ultimately, YMMV. But in these posts my concern was more with the phytic acid claims.

 

For those who strongly believe in the benefits of soaking, you can always use the old Dean trick: split the difference. Eat some of each: soaked and non-soaked! That way you cover your bases (assuming one does not interfere with the other!).

Edited by TomBAvoider

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Hi Tom and ALL!

 

I agree pretty with Tom. 

 

Perhaps also noteworthy:  Al posted a brief note, on a (very small, in vitro) study, that suggested that those eating a plant based diet (which we all do, whether we eat a small amount of animal food as well), develop a gut microbiota that contains bacteria (or other microorganisms) that thoroughly digest phytic acid.  More research in that directions would be interesting.

 

But, no way will I soak my nuts.  In fact, I keep them raw, in my freezer -- most of my nuts are eaten very hard, and cold, directly from the freezer.

 

Good for my teeth!

 

  :)xyz

 

      --  Saul

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