Soak Your Nuts & Seeds!

by — Jan 24, 2011

Nuts and seeds are important parts of a raw food diet.  They are the foundation of many desserts, salad dressings, “cheeses,” and “meats.”  But in the realm of nuts and seeds, “raw” just isn’t enough. You’ve probably heard about soaking nuts and seeds, but have you ever wondered why this process is so crucial in their transformation from dense, burdensome foods to those that are easy to digest and healthier?  It may be a loathed extra step in food preparation, but soaking nuts is worth the trouble.

Here’s why:

Nuts contain enzyme inhibitors, which are molecules that attach to enzymes and decrease their activity. Enzyme inhibitors protect nuts and seeds as they grow, and they help prevent premature sprouting. Your body, however, does not benefit from enzyme inhibitors in the least. Soaking nuts/seeds in water will release these difficult to digest enzymes; subsequently, your digestive system assimilates the enzyme inhibitors and makes the nuts/seeds significantly more nutritious. Even though soaking may require time, it’s so easy.

Here’s how it works:

  • Place nuts in a bowl or jar with enough water to cover them completely.  You can add salt to expedite the soaking process, which measures about 1 tsp sea salt per 2 cups water.
  • Each nut has its respective soaking time, and it’s important to drain and refill the soaking water several times throughout the process.  This removes enzyme inhibitors that have been released and are now floating in the water.
  • After the nuts have soaked for enough time, rinse them thoroughly to wash off all the excess enzyme inhibitors.  You can use the nuts or seeds right away in certain raw food desserts, creams, and sauces or dehydrate them at 105 degrees Fahrenheit until they are no longer moist and soggy. Be careful not to overcook them, as doing so will no longer render them “raw”.

Below are the soaking times for the most popular nuts:

  • Almonds: 8-12 hours
  • Brazil Nuts: Do not soak!
  • Cashews: 2-3 hours
  • Flax Seeds: 8 hours
  • Hemp Seeds: Do not soak!
  • Macadamia Nuts: Do not soak!
  • Pecans: 4-6 hours
  • Pine Nuts: Do not soak!
  • Pistachio Nuts: Do not soak!
  • Pumpkin Seeds: 8 hours
  • Sesame Seeds: 8 hours
  • Sunflower Seeds: 2 hours
  • Walnuts: 4 hours

Make note of the nuts/seeds that do not require soaking. If you are dining out at a raw food establishment, ask your waiter whether dishes contain nuts that are soaked.  Conversely, if you buy your own nuts, soak them yourself because the time needed for soaking, you must plan ahead accordingly.  If you are making a raw food dessert that requires nuts, soak them overnight in anticipation for the next day, keeping in mind, whether or not, they’ll require dehydration afterward.

Yes, soaking nuts can be a bothersome addition to food preparation, but it’s all in the name of health. It also puts more love and intention into your meals.  Your body will thank you.

So toughen up and soak your nuts!


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  1. Very informative! I have been trying to incorporate more nuts and seeds into my diet so this is a awesome article.

  2. @Maxine: Can you please explain why Brazil, Macadamia and Pistachio nuts don’t need soaking? I have been soaking all my nuts, including Brazil, Macadamia and Pistachio nuts, because most of the time they are listed with soaking times, but occasionally I see that they shouldn’t be soaked. Can you please explain why they shouldn’t be soaked?

  3. Very efficiently written story. It will be useful to everyone who employess it, as well as myself. Keep doing what you are doing – looking forward to more posts.

  4. Could you please tell me why hemp seeds shouldn’t be soaked? Is it ok to do it anyhow?

  5. PLEASE do answer why certain nuts shouldn’t be soaked! Especially since you have that exclamation point. Tha makes it sound like it’s particularly bad to do so. Explanation please!

  6. Why do you specify not to soak some nuts?

  7. Looks to to like Aylin doesn’t actually know why some nuts should not be soaked, otherwise why no reply with cited science?

  8. Hi 🙂 I am interested to find out if it is bad to soak the nuts for longer than their ‘recommended soaking time’. For example if I leave them overnight for +-12 hours would that take away some of the nutrients or is it more a case of dont go less than the recommended soaking time?

  9. There is no phytic acid in hemp seeds, therefore you don’t need to soak them 🙂 Not sure about the other nuts.

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