Remember when nani would soak dal and pulses overnight before cooking? Turns out it wasn’t just to help the dish cook faster. This seemingly mundane act comes with a host of benefits. The same holds true for nuts such as almonds.
We consume nuts and pulses in hopes that our body will attain more iron, zinc, calcium and protein. But it’s pertinent to note that almonds and pulses contain an element called phytic acid, which blocks absorption of these nutrients and causes bloating.
But cooking or soaking these foods can activate enzymes called phytates, which break down phytic acid and lock all the nutrients. This can prevent indigestion, and our bodies are inundated with a host of healthy nutrients.
According to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, “soaking or boiling food items which consist of lectins and phytates will have the ability to neutralise these compounds and potentially reduce digestive problems”.
Meanwhile, the Asian Institute of Medical Sciences says, “The cardiac benefits of soaked almonds stem from its idyllic monounsaturated fats, vitamin E, fibre, and arginine. In India, the higher probability of dyslipidemia [abnormally elevated cholesterol or fats (lipids) in the blood] thanks to food choices full of saturated fats, and trans fats points to elevated risks of cardiovascular diseases. Whether you add them to a fresh salad for the crunch, or just eat them as a snack, almonds lower cholesterol levels since they burn fat in the belly, and target LDL (the harmful cholesterol in your bloodstream), thereby reducing triglyceride and LDL levels.”
In addition to these benefits, when soaked, nuts become softer and less bitter, which may be more convenient for some individuals.
How is it done?
The only task in the whole process is to remember to soak the food before going to bed everyday. You can also soak them for at least 30 minutes prior to cooking/ eating.
- Wash your nuts/pulses twice or thrice in freshwater.
- For one cup of nuts/pulses, take two cups of water and a pinch of salt.
- Mix them well and cover with a lid.
- Next morning, rinse with fresh water to remove extra salt.
- If it’s nuts, have them directly. If it’s pulses, you can start cooking.
For a crunchier twist, you can roast and dehydrate the nuts to turn them into a healthy snack.
Chef Shilarna Vaze shared a video of how she makes her kid do the whole process. She discussed the advantages of soaking nuts before having them, and shared a tip for those who can’t remember to soak every night.
“Make a big batch and then slowly dehydrate them at the lowest possible temperature in your oven (not more than 60 degrees). Just remember if there is even a little bit of moisture left in the nuts, they will spoil even in the fridge,” she wrote.
Meanwhile, nutritionist Pooja Makhija told NDTV Food, that nutrients in almonds can be enjoyed best when soaked and peeled. She says this is because the skin of the almond can be difficult to digest and soaking makes them easier to chew.
If you keep getting a bad stomach after doing this process, try adding some more garlic to the dish. If pain persists, seek a nutritionist’s help.