It’s the popular food trend that has many people going nuts. Activated nuts are nuts that have been soaked in a salt water solution for 12-24 hours to stimulate the germination process which causes the nut to change – breakdowns some stored proteins, starches (carbohydrates) and oils. Other plant chemicals like phytates also begin to change.
Phytates generally get a bad rap. Nuts naturally contain phytates, which bind together minerals like iron, calcium, magnesium and phosphate making them less available for absorption. Supporters of activated nuts believe soaking breaks down the phytates and improves bioavailability of minerals, making it easier for our bodies to absorb the minerals nuts contain.
However, a recent New Zealand study has found no evidence that activating nuts reduces phytates and in fact, the soaking process actually leaches important nutrients out of the nuts. The study assessed common methods for activating both whole and chopped almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts and peanuts. Three methods were used for soaking: soaking for 12 hours in water, soaking for 12 hours in salted water and soaking for four hours in salted water. After drying, the researchers then tested the phytate and mineral content.
According to study author Professor Rachel Brown from the Department of Human Nutrition at University of Otago, activating nuts are ineffective and the soaking process actually leaches out important nutrients.
“Our research shows common methods used to activate nuts do not reduce phytate levels. However, important minerals in nuts specifically iron, calcium and zinc, were leached out during the soaking process, which suggests activating nuts probably does more harm than good.”
“We also found many common activating methods used salted water, turning nuts from naturally low-sodium snack into a less desirable, high-sodium snack food,” adds Prof Brown.
These results support earlier findings by the same researchers who studied the impact of activating almonds on digestion. Their research found that soaking almonds did not reduce phytates or improve gastrointestinal symptoms.
This means you don’t need to waste time soaking your nuts and no longer do you need to shell out on expensive, activated nuts either. You can enjoy all the health benefits that come with eating a handful of nut each day, simply by enjoying raw or roasted nuts in the form you purchase them in.
For delicious nut recipes visit the Nuts For Life website.