Briefly, here’s why soaking grains, nuts, beans and seeds is beneficial
- improves digestibility
- reduces cooking time
- increases availability of vitamins and minerals
- increases absorptions of proteins
- reduces anti-nutrients
Seeds are Life
A seed holds within it the power to build a new life. Everything needed to grow and prosper is contained within it – vitamins, minerals, proteins, fats and carbohydrates. They are incredibly nutrient dense. Seeds are the foundation of living foods, and for this reason, are an important part of a healthy diet. Providing a seed with water and a suitable environment allows the seed to leave its dormant state and release the energy within it.
Grains, beans, nuts and seeds are all classified as seeds as they have the potential to sprout into a living plant. Unlocking this potential by soaking seeds in water before eating them will allow us to get more benefits than eating them in their dry, dormant state.
Reduces Enzyme Inhibitors
Enzyme inhibitors will affect how an enzyme attaches to the binding site of a molecule, therefore affecting the metabolic processes or digestive functioning of our bodies. Enzyme inhibitors can also block the active site of an enzyme, rendering the enzyme unable to function. This can be a problem when un-soaked seeds, nuts, grains and beans are consumed in excess. When a seed is soaked, natural chemical changes occur. These changes work to activate enzymes which make the seeds easier for our bodies to digest
Reduces Phytic Acid
Seeds contain a compound called phytic acid that is used by the seed for protection until it is ready to grow. The problem with phytic acid is that it is classified as an anti-nutrient. This means that in our bodies, phytic acid binds to minerals, preventing them from being able to be absorbed by our digestive system. In our digestive tract, phytic acid can bind with the minerals calcium, copper, magnesium iron and zinc, reducing their absorption in our bodies. Over the long term, this can lead to reduced bone density and other conditions.
In small doses, consuming un-soaked grains and beans is not a problem. But for people who eat a lot of grains, seeds, beans and nuts (and especially vegetarians), the phytic acid content can lower the amount of trace minerals being absorbed in the body. The reason vegetarians may encounter a greater risk to being mineral deficient is due to the typical practice of replacing meat with grains. They may have a higher proportion of grains, beans and nuts in their diet than someone who eats meat.
How to Soak
*Generally, the harder the seed, the longer it needs to soak.
Beans & Grains
- Give the beans or grains a good rinse and add to a jar or bowl.
- Soak beans and grains in filtered water to completely cover them. I usually add about 1 inch of extra water as dried beans and grains will expand while soaking
- Add an acidic compound. I usually use 1 tsp of vinegar (1 tsp of Lemon juice or a piece of kombu seaweed will also work.)
- Leave the bowl or jar uncovered (or covered with a towel) at room temperature for 8 hours or overnight.
- They are now ready to cook
- Add enough filtered water to cover
- Nuts and seeds can be soaked for a few hours or overnight
- Soaking nuts and seeds is great to do before making homemade nut milks
- After soaking, you can eat them when they are soft and wet, or dehydrate to remove the moisture without heating them
Yes, soaking your seeds, nuts, grains and beans will take some time. But, it’s very easy to do. With meal planning, you won’t even notice this simple extra step. I usually prepare beans in a large batch to use throughout the week. After soaking the beans overnight, I cook them in the slow cooker. Keeping the cooked extras in the refrigerator overnight will make meal assembly a breeze!