Almond fans around the world will tell you that the best way to eat almonds is after soaking them, preferably overnight. Once the skin is flexible and detaches, the almonds are softer and easy to chew. From the point of view of health benefits, soaking almonds can also make a big difference. Let’s find out.
Ayurveda Suggests that you can Soak Almonds Before Eating Them:
Ancient health care traditions such as Ayurveda believe that it is not enough to just eat a certain food for benefits. You also have to prepare it well. When it comes to almonds, the standard practice in Ayurveda and traditional Chinese medicine is to soak them overnight and take them the next morning. Ayurvedic doctors believe that eating almonds soaked early in the morning can help regulate heartburn. This helps digestion of proteins throughout the day, protecting it from heartburn and other gastric symptoms.
Soaking Increases Nutrient Absorption:
Almonds are a source of nutrients such as protein, fiber, vitamin E, calcium, zinc, phosphorus and magnesium. Only 30 grams of almonds, which is equivalent to about 20/23 units, can produce:
- 164 Calories
- 6 g protein
- 5 g of fiber, which represents approximately 10% of daily fiber needs
- 6 g of fat, most of which comes from healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats
- 76 mg calcium
- 77 mg of magnesium
- 136 mg of phosphorus, which represents approximately 19% of daily needs
- 12 mcg folate
- 27 mg of 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, both for the mother and the baby”.
However, nutrients, especially minerals, are not absorbed effectively in the body if raw almonds are eaten due to two types of chemical inhibitors or antinutrients in the skin of almonds. Antinutrients can also delay digestion.
- Tannin:Dried almonds contain a phenolic enzyme inhibitor in the skin, which actually protects the almond before germination. While tannin is a natural antioxidant, recent research suggests that this chemical, known as tannin, is related to a “lower efficiency in the conversion of absorbed nutrients into new body substances.” What that means is that the nutrients absorbed in your body cannot be used properly. Tannin can also bind to proteins and hinder their digestion.
- Phytates:Like most nuts, almonds also contain phytic acid, another antioxidant, and phytates or salts of phytic acid. These have an inhibitory effect on enzymes such as lipase, pepsin and amylase, which break down fat, proteins and starch (carbohydrates), respectively. Phytic acid also binds (chelate) with essential mineral ions such as calcium, iron and zinc, forms insoluble salts and hinders their absorption in the body. The phytate content increases further when almonds are fertilized with phosphate-based fertilizers.
Fortunately, both tannin and phytic acid are soluble in water. So, once soaked, these chemicals seep into the water. This allows the release of nutrients. Stomach enzymes can also work freely and nutrients can be absorbed. In fact, one 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 only almonds, it is better to soak all nuts and seeds before eating them. However, remember that soaking can also drain some of the water-soluble B vitamins.
Soak the Almonds Overnight:
Soak a handful of almonds in drinking water. The ratio should be 2: 1, with 2 cups of water per cup of almonds. Let it stay overnight or at least 8 hours. You may or may not peel the skin the next morning. The antinutrients would have leaked by then. You may or may not add a splash of salt while soaking. If you want to peel the skin, put the soaked almonds in warm water to facilitate peeling. If you want almond sprouts, which are considered healthier, dry the almonds and store them in the fridge for a couple of days.
Do not Take More Than 50 Grams of Almonds:
If you are eating raw almonds, the standard daily serving size, according to the FDA is not more than 50 grams, which is about 1/3 of a cup. Excessive consumption can produce unpleasant side effects such as digestive problems and weight gain. You can take raw almonds, chop them and mix them with your salad, or even use them as a side dish for your porridge. They can also be ground and mixed with fresh milk, sugar, cardamom powder and a few strands of saffron. This nutritious almond milk is considered an excellent snack. If you follow a specific carbohydrate diet, where some carbohydrates (for example, those that contain gluten) are banned, you would probably opt for almond flour or any nut flour. Since that means consuming more in one day, you must soak or toast your almonds to get rid of the phytate load and avoid lack of nutrition. Some experts recommend submerging almonds for 18 hours in such scenarios. The same applies to people who have mineral deficiencies.