Soaking and dehydrating nuts is my favorite way to eat them, but why would I go to all that trouble if I could just eat them raw or toast them in the oven? The answer, my friends, is phytic acid.
Read on to learn what phytic acid is, how to reduce it in our diets, and how it applies to nuts. Check out the recipes at the end that use nuts, and don’t forget to comment below if you have try this recipe.Jump to Recipe
What is Phytic Acid?
According to an article from Chris Kesser, a functional medicine practitioner, phytic acid is a compound in plants (especially nuts and seeds) that can:
- Prevent our bodies from absorbing certain nutrients
- Interfere with enzymes needed to digest our food
If we want to be living vibrantly healthy lives, this is not good. We want our bodies to digest all the nutrients we are feeding them and we want to avoid bloating and nutrient deficiencies by properly preparing our foods.
How Can We Reduce Phytic Acid in our Diets?
While it’s impossible to remove all phytic acid from our diets, we can significantly reduce them. These means soaking, sprouting, and/or fermenting grains, nuts, and beans; eating them less; or eliminating some of them from our diet completely. For example, I feel better when I don’t eat wheat (regardless of whether it’s fermented or sprouted) and I eat beans only once or twice a week (always soaked first and then pressure cooked). For nuts, I eat no more than a handful a day of soaked and dehydrated nuts.
Ramiel Nagel wrote an article called “Living With Phytic Acid.” He goes into detail about how to reduce phytic acid levels found in certain foods, as well as how to mitigate the effects of phytic acid by consuming diets rich in calcium (bone broth and raw dairy) and vitamin D (fish, fish eggs, offal, butter, and egg yolks).
In the context of a diet rich in calcium, vitamin D, vitamin A, vitamin C, good fats and lacto-fermented foods, most people will do fine on an estimated 400-800 mg per day. For those suffering from tooth decay, bone loss or mineral deficiencies, total estimated phytate content of 150-400 mg would be advised. For children under age six, pregnant women or those with serious illnesses, it is best to consume a diet as low in phytic acid as possible.https://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/vegetarianism-and-plant-foods/living-with-phytic-acid/
So it seems most of us can get by with 400-800 mg per day of phytic acid. Those with other conditions, including pregnant women and children under six, should aim for under 400 mg is best.
How can we know how much phytic acid we are getting? This chart shows phytic acid levels in nuts, and this chart shows levels in various other foods. Note that the numbers are based on 100 g (3.5 oz) of the foods before soaking, sprouting, fermenting, or cooking. So we can make estimated guesses based on the quantities of these foods that we eat and whether or not we are adequately preparing them through soaking, sprouting, and fermenting.
I found this handy chart that breaks down the soaking times for various nuts, seeds, grains, and beans, as well as whether you can sprout them or not.
Unfortunately, I could not find numbers regarding how much the phytic acid in nuts is reduced after soaking. However, here are the takeaways for phytic acid:
- Soak, ferment, sprout, and/or cook nuts, seeds, beans, and grains as often as you can
- Eat a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D to balance out the harmful effects of phytic acid
- Eat a varied diet that includes healthy fats (avocados and avocado oil, animal fats, olives and olive oil, coconut and coconut oil), protein (animal proteins, fish, eggs), and healthy carbs (leafy green vegetables, root vegetables, rice, and some properly prepared grains and beans). By eating in this way you will avoid the risk of over consuming phytic acid.
How to Soak and Dehydrate Nuts
Nuts should be soaked in filtered water with a good bit of sea salt or Real Salt (about 1 tablespoon of salt per pound of nuts). Walnuts and pecans can be soaked up to six hours; almonds can be soaked eight hours. Refer to this chart for soaking times on other nuts.
I have read that some people encourage longer soaking times to further reduce the levels of phytic acid. If you give this a try, be sure to change the water (and add more salt) once or twice to prevent the nuts from getting slimy and off-smelling.
After the nuts have soaked, you can rinse them if you like. I choose not to because I like the slightly salty taste that remains after dehydrating.
Nuts can be dehydrated between temperatures of 100-115 degrees Fahrenheit for about twelve hours. If you have a dehydrator, this is easy to do. If you don’t have a dehydrator, I have read that you can slow roast them at 150-175 degrees Fahrenheit for 24 hours. I haven’t tried this before, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work.
I like to start soaking nuts in the afternoon, around 2 pm (I literally set an alarm on my phone). Then I can lay them on trays in the dehydrator before going to bed. Soon after I get up in the morning, they are done.
You will know nuts are done when they are completely dry and crisp. Test one. There should be no give or chew when you bite into it, but instead it will shatter crisply, like a roasted nut. If they are not completely dry before you store them, they will get moldy.
Favorite Recipes that Call for Nuts
- Basil Walnut Pesto: This classic pesto recipe uses walnuts instead of more expensive (and harder to find) pine nuts. Soaking and dehydrating the walnuts first makes this pesto more nutritious and more digestible.
- Stick With You Trail Mix: Trail mix is wonderful because it is portable, filling, and tasty. Avoid the stomach bloat by reducing the phytic acid levels by soaking the nuts.
- Sweet Potato Pancakes: I love to top these sweet potato pancakes with crispy dehydrated pecans. Sometimes I even stir them into the batter.
How about you? Do you plan to soak nuts the next time you buy them?
Thanks for reading. I’ll see you next time!
How to Dehydrate Nuts…And Why You Should
- Food dehydrator works best; an oven is second best
- 1 lb walnuts, pecans, and/or almonds raw
- seal salt or Real Salt
- filtered water
- Pour raw nuts into large bowl. (If soaking more than one variety, keep them in separate bowls). Sprinkle sea salt on top (use 1 tablespoon per pound of nuts). Pour enough filtered water over the nuts to completely submerge. Cover bowl with a large plate or plastic wrap and let soak: 6 hours for walnuts and pecans, 8-12 hours for almonds.
- After soaking time is finished, drain soaking water from nuts. Rinsing is optional; if you rinse, the final nuts will not taste salty, if you don't rinse, they will have a lightly salted flavor. Spread the nuts in a single layer on dehydrator trays. Dehydrate for 12 hours at 100-115 degrees Fahrenheit. Alternately, you could roast them at 150-175 degrees in an oven for about 12 hours, stirring occasionally.
There is a study on phytic acid levels when soaking nuts. The results were around 10% less.