Whether you are vegan, vegetarian, Paleo, or someone who eats the standard American diet of burgers and fries, raw nuts are one food that all acknowledge is a good addition to the diet. Here’s where the agreement about raw nuts ends.
The problem is that most people don’t know that soaking raw nuts first before eating them is very important. Soaked raw nuts are far more digestible than plain raw nuts. The soaking process eliminates anti-nutrients and improves nutrition while still maintaining rawness. Note that soaking does not eliminate the high amount of oxalates in nuts, however.
Raw Nuts are Seeds
While raw nuts are an extremely nutritious food, preparation is key in order to unlock maximum nutrient potential. Careful soaking deactivates any substances that could be irritating to the gut. The soaking process followed is in accordance with the wisdom of Traditional Cultures.
This is because raw nuts are seeds. As such, they contain anti-nutrients such as phytic acid and lectins that can prevent all that wonderful nutrition from being digested thoroughly. These inhibitors can also cause digestive distress if many raw nuts are consumed. For some people, even a few raw nuts cause digestive distress. Sometimes, eating plain raw nuts can cause a rash around the mouth.
Benefits of Soaking Nuts
Deactivation of the anti-nutrients in all nuts is accomplished through sprouting or soaking. Soaking raw nuts in salt water for a few hours and then drying in a warm (not hot) oven or dehydrator is all that is required. According to Nourishing Traditions Cookbook, soaking and drying of raw nuts mimics the wise practice of the Aztecs. This culture soaked seeds in salt water and then dried them in the sun before grinding into flour or eating them whole.
Soaking nuts is a particularly helpful practice if you find raw nuts irritating to your stomach or mouth. My husband can eat soaked raw nuts with no problem. If he eats unsoaked raw nuts, however, he frequently experiences digestive issues and sometimes irritation around the mouth.
The anti-nutrients in raw nuts really bother some people. Even if you have no symptoms, you are likely not absorbing their wonderful nutrition as well as you could.
How Many Soaked Nuts per Day to Eat?
While extremely nutritious, it is best to keep the amount of soaked raw nuts consumed each day to a closed handful at most. This is in keeping with the recommendation of Dr. Kellyann Petrucci ND, author of the Bone Broth Diet. The reason is that most nuts contain an abundance of polyunsaturated fats, which are easily overconsumed. Too many polyunsaturates in the diet can contribute to inflammation and weight issues.
The one exception to this is macademias. These nuts that are native to Australia contain mostly saturated and monounsaturated fats and an extremely small amount of polyunsaturated fats per serving.
Where to Buy Quality Soaked Raw Nuts and Nut Butters
Don’t have time to soak and dry raw nuts yourself?
Yes, it is a bit time consuming!
Check out my shopping guide for quality suppliers of soaked nuts and nut butters. We use 4-5 jars of soaked nut butters in our home every single month. Our family favorites are soaked pecan butter, soaked macadamia nut butter, soaked hazelnut butter, soaked almond butter, and soaked 4 nut blend.
How to Soak Raw Nuts
If you like to eat raw nuts whole, soaking them yourself first is very easy! Below is a recipe on how to soak the 10 most popular raw nuts followed by a video demonstrating the basic process.
Note that the process described below does not apply to a foraged superfood such as acorns. This type of nut requires an extended soaking of up to a week as practiced by Native Americans to properly remove the bitter tannins before drying and eating.
Soaked Raw Nuts Recipe
The process of soaking raw nuts to improve digestibility and eliminate anti-nutrients.
Place raw nuts in a large glass bowl (I use this one).
Add enough filtered water to cover.
Stir in sea salt.
Leave uncovered on the counter for 8 hours or overnight for almonds, European almonds, pecans, hazelnuts, and macadamias.
No more than 4-6 hours for cashews, walnuts, peanuts, pistachios and brazil nuts (else they will get moldy and/or slimy).
Do not mix raw nuts while soaking. You may mix while dehydrating.
Drain water completely.
Dry in a warm oven no hotter than 150 F/ 66 C until dry. If your oven can't be set that low, use a food dehydrator (I like this one).
Store crispy nuts in airtight containers in the refrigerator or cool, dark pantry.
Do not mix different types of raw nuts together when soaking. Soak almonds separate from cashews, for example. This minimizes chances for mold developing. Also, the soaking times for various nuts are different.
Instead of soaking peanuts, this traditional boiled peanuts recipe is an option too.
Soaking Raw Nuts Demonstration Video
In the video below, I demonstrate how to soak raw almonds and dry them in your oven to greatly improve nutrient absorption, reduce gastric distress. You will be amazed at how soaked raw nuts taste far better than unsoaked raw nuts!
The same process can be followed for cashews, macadamia nuts, pecans, brazil nuts, peanuts etc.
Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
Sarah Pope has been a Health and Nutrition Educator since 2002. Her work is dedicated to helping families effectively incorporate the principles of ancestral diets within the modern household. She is a sought after lecturer around the world for conferences, summits, and podcasts.
Her work has been covered by major media including USA Today, ABC, NBC, and many others.