In its most basic sense activating nuts is essentially soaking and re-drying nuts and seeds to make them more easily digestible and make more of their nutrients available.
It is not a new idea and many traditional cultures either soak or sprout their nuts and seeds before eating them. The idea is that the soaking or germinating neutralizes that natural enzyme inhibitors that occur in nuts. During the soaking process the nut converts some of the starch to simple sugars, and some of the protein as the emerging sprout breaks it down as a fuel for growth.
Many foods are recommended to be soaked prior to cooking or consumption to reduce the level of phytic acid or other anti-nutrients . Some examples are:
- pytates – found in grains, nuts, seeds, legumes
- oxalates – found in beans, rhubarb, spinach
- saponins (punch holes in your microvilli contributing to leaky gut) – found in quinoa, chickpeas, alfalfa, oats
- lectins – found in soy, kidney beans, nuts and grains
- enzyme inhibitors – like protease inhibitors found in soy, grains, nuts, Nightshade vegetables
So why is phytic acid bad? Well it is believed that phytic acid (which is not easily digested by humans) can inhibit the absorption of minerals such as iron, magnesium and zinc. It can also cause digestive upsets and discomfort.
Different nuts and seeds require different soaking times and you can find a good guide here.
Now that we have cut sugar out of our diets we have been eating more nuts and seeds in a variety of forms including granola (recipe tomorrow), bread and pestos. For me activating nuts and seeds is a bit like fermenting vegetables, it is a way of ensuring we are getting the most goodness from our foods. It is something that I try to do in big batches so that my dehydrator is on for the least amount of time and then I store the activated nuts in the freezer as it is very warm here in Queensland and nuts can go rancid or at least start to taste a bit stale.
Do you activate your nuts and/or seeds?