Understanding Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and seeds are essentially small lock boxes containing all of the ingredients necessary to create plant life.

Because of this valuable nutrient load, and in order to ensure the continual survival of their species, they have evolved with a very specific set of tools to protect themselves until it is time to sprout into a new plant. These special protective enzymes are what affords raw nuts and seeds the ability to lay dormant for years, patiently waiting for the right combination of temperature and moisture to signal to them that it is time to “wake up” and start sprouting.

In terms of human consumption, this is both good and bad news. The fact that they contain this abundant nutrient load makes them extremely nutritious when consumed. However, their advanced form of bio-protection makes it extremely difficult to digest them in their raw, unprepared form. This is due to the presence of anti-nutrients, such as phytic acid, meant to deter animals from consuming them. This makes absorption of their nutrients extremely difficult for most mammals, and—if consumed in large quantities—can actually leach minerals from our bodies.

Luckily for us, our ancestors who relied largely on seed foods—such as grains and legumes—found creative ways to break down the protective layers of these foods, increasing the digestibility and bioavailability of their nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. These methods include soaking, sprouting, fermenting, and cooking.

Unfortunately, in the name of convenience, the most common method to prepare nuts and seeds today is simply roasting them. This method does render them slightly easier to digest, but is far inferior to the more traditional methods of soaking and sprouting.

The easiest way to understand the benefits that sprouting has over other methods is to think about what is happening on a cellular level. By sprouting, we are essentially initiating the natural growing process of the seed, making it think it is time to grow into a plant. During this process, the seed breaks down those previously mentioned protective enzymes and anti-nutrients, while simultaneously boosting its nutrient profile—so instead of consuming a dormant seed you are consuming a small soon-to-be plant full of living enzymes.

The night and day difference in nutrient availability between these raw, live-enzyme, nuts and seeds and their lifeless roasted counterparts is something that should not be overlooked. Especially for individuals who consume these foods on a regular basis and want to ensure that they are fully absorbing the available nutrients. 

Science aside, the mere soaking of nuts and seeds also initiates the transformation of the compounds in the foods that result in a much better flavor.

Don’t just take my word for it, give it a try!

Simply soak a handful of almonds in water overnight, rinse, and enjoy – I promise you’ll be shocked by the delicious flavor!

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