What are the health benefits of soaked almonds and how to soak almonds? Is it more healthy or not we will try to explain in this article.
Almond fanatics across the world will tell you that the best way to eat almonds is after soaking it, preferably overnight. Once the skin is pliable and slips off, the almonds are soft and easy to chew. From a health benefits perspective also, soaking these nuts can make a big difference. Let’s find out.
Ancient healthcare traditions believe that it’s not enough to just eat a certain food to get benefits. It needs to be prepared right too.
When it comes to almonds, the standard practice in Ayurveda and traditional Chinese medicine is soaking them overnight and having them the next morning.
Ayurvedic practitioners believe that eating soaked almonds first thing in the morning can help regulate your stomach acidity. This aids protein digestion throughout the day, protecting you from heartburn and other gastric symptoms.
Read more: What Happens When You Eat 20 Almonds A Day
Health Benefits Of Soaked Almonds
Research suggests that soaked almonds may offer some health benefits.
May ease their digestion
Almonds have a tough, hard texture that can make them difficult to digest.
However, soaking softens them, potentially making them easier for your body to break down.
Almonds also harbor antinutrients, which can impair the digestion and absorption of certain nutrients, such as calcium, iron, zinc, and magnesium.
While research shows that soaking can significantly reduce anti-nutrient levels in grains and legumes, there’s limited evidence of the effectiveness of soaking almonds or other tree nuts.
In one study, soaking almonds at room temperature for 24 hours decreased phytic acid levels — but by less than 5%.
Another study found that soaking chopped almonds in salt water for 12 hours resulted in a small — yet significant — 4% reduction in phytic acid levels.
May increase your absorption of certain nutrients
Soaking may make almonds easier to chew, increasing nutrient availability.
Research shows that breaking down almonds into smaller pieces through chewing or cutting allows more nutrients to be released and absorbed — especially fats.
Additionally, digestive enzymes may be able to break down and absorb the nutrients more efficiently.
Nonetheless, one study indicated that soaking whole almonds had little or no effect on the availability of some minerals, including iron, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc.
When the almonds were chopped before soaking, the concentrations of these minerals decreased — despite phytic acid levels also going down.
Thus, soaking may aid fat absorption but, conversely, decrease mineral availability.
Some people may prefer the taste and texture
Soaking also affects the texture and taste of almonds.
Raw almonds are hard and crunchy, with a slightly bitter flavor due to their tannins.
When soaked, they become softer, less bitter, and more buttery-tasting, which may be more appealing to some individuals.
Soaking Increases Nutrient Absorption
Almonds are a powerhouse of nutrients such as protein, fiber, vitamin E, calcium, zinc, phosphorus, and magnesium.
- 164 Calories
- 6 g protein
- 3.5 g fiber, making up about 10% of the daily fiber requirement
- 14.6 g fat, of which the bulk comes from the healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats
- 76 mg of calcium
- 77 mg magnesium
- 136 mg phosphorus, making up about 19% of the daily requirement
- 12 mcg folate
- 7.27 mg vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol)
These nutrients are what give almonds their many health benefits from heart health to brain health. Almonds are also good during pregnancy, for both the mom and the baby. The nutrients, especially the minerals, however, are not absorbed effectively in the body if you eat raw almonds because of two types of inhibitory chemicals or anti-nutrients in almond skin. The anti-nutrients can also delay digestion.
- Tannin: Dry almonds contain a phenolic enzyme inhibitor in the skin, which protects the nut before germination. While tannin is a natural antioxidant, recent research suggests that this chemical, known as tannin, is linked with “decreased efficiency in converting the absorbed nutrients to new body substances.” What that means is that the absorbed nutrients in your body cannot be used properly. Tannin can also bind with proteins and make it difficult to digest them.
- Phytates: Like most nuts, almonds also contain phytic acid, yet another antioxidant, and phytates or salts of phytic acid. These have an inhibitory effect on enzymes like lipase, pepsin, and amylase, which break down fat, protein, and starch (carbohydrates), respectively. Phytic acid also binds (chelates) with essential mineral ions like calcium, iron, and zinc forms insoluble salts and hinders their absorption into the body. The phytate content is further increased when the almonds are fertilized with phosphate-based fertilizers.
Thankfully, both tannin and phytic acid are water-soluble. So, once soaked, these chemicals leach into the water. This enables the release of nutrients. The stomach enzymes can also now work freely and the nutrients can be absorbed.
A study found that the body can absorb 60% more magnesium and 20% more zinc when phytic acid is removed. Soaking also makes almonds easier to digest, even for people with a sensitive digestive system.
Not just almonds, it’s best to soak all nuts and seeds before eating them. However, remember that soaking can also drain off some of the water-soluble B vitamins.
How to soak almonds
Soaking almonds is simple — and much cheaper than buying pre-soaked ones at the store.
Here’s a simple way to soak them overnight:
-Place almonds in a bowl, add enough warm tap water to fully cover them, and sprinkle about 1 teaspoon of salt for every 1 cup (140 grams) of nuts.
-Cover the bowl and let it sit on your countertop overnight, or for 8–12 hours.
-Drain and rinse. If you choose, you can remove the skins for a smoother texture.
-Pat the almonds dry using a clean paper towel.
-The soaked nuts can be eaten immediately.
For a crunchier twist, you can dry them via a few methods:
Roasting. Preheat your oven to 175oF (79oC) and place the almonds on a baking sheet. Roast for 12–24 hours, or until dried out.
Dehydrating. Spread the soaked nuts in an even layer on one or two trays. Set your dehydrator to 155oF (68oC) and run for 12 hours, or until crunchy.
It’s best to store soaked almonds in an airtight container in your fridge.
Should you soak almonds?
While soaking may lead to some improvements in digestion and nutrient availability, unsoaked almonds are still a healthy addition to your diet.
These nuts are a good source of fiber, protein, and healthy fats, as well as an excellent source of vitamin E, manganese, and magnesium.
In particular, the skins are rich in antioxidants, especially polyphenols, which may protect against several chronic illnesses, including heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Regular almond intake is associated with weight loss, reduced LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, and increased HDL (good) cholesterol levels, blood sugar control, and fullness.
Additionally, consuming tannins and phytic acid is not necessarily harmful, as both antinutrients have been shown to exhibit antioxidant effects and may protect against heart disease and some forms of cancer.
Don’t Have More Than 1.5 Oz Almonds
If you are eating the almonds raw, the standard daily serving size, as per the FDA is no more than 1.5 oz, which is about 1/3 of a cup. Overindulging can give you unpleasant side effects like digestive issues and weight gain.
You can have the almonds raw, chop them and mix with your salad, or even use them as a garnish for your oatmeal porridge. You could also grind them and mix them with fresh milk, sugar, cardamom powder, and a few strands of saffron. This nutritious almond milk is considered an excellent coolant.
If you follow a specific carbohydrate diet, where some carbs (say those with gluten) are forbidden, you would probably opt for almond flour or any nut flour. As that means consuming a larger amount in a day, you should soak or roast your almonds to get rid of the phytate load and avoid lack of nutrition. Some experts recommend soaking the almonds for 18 hours in such scenarios. The same goes for people who have mineral deficiencies.
Conclusion: Health benefits of soaked almonds are numerous. You should try to soak them overnight the way it was explained here and try that with other nuts too.