The Health Benefits of Sprouted Nuts and Seed Butters

We all know how much nuts and seeds are good for us. However, they also contain some antinutrients (like gluten) that can cause some havoc on some, which is why we want to discuss the health benefits of sprouted nuts and seed butters.  

For starters, sprouted nuts help minimize antinutrients (like phytic acid, polyphenols, enzyme inhibitors, lectins, and saponins) that are natural compounds typically found in plant seeds. However, while they may be natural, it can still interfere with our digestion, causing leaky gut syndrome, and our ability to digest all the nutrients we need. For this lesson, let’s cherry-pick and dive into phytic acid.

 

First, What Is the Phytic Acid?

Found in plant-derived foods and seeds, phytic acid is one of the more recognized antinutrients from those mentioned above. While it offers numerous health benefits, it also inhibits proper mineral absorption, such as iron, zinc, and calcium, within our bodies.

However, because it’s a plant-derived food, phytic acid can be found in anything from almonds to corn to tofu, which makes it hard to avoid. A mineral deficiency may develop over time when you consume lots of phytates with most meals. A handful of almonds for a snack between meals will only reduce your mineral intake for that snack, not your next meal a few hours later. 

It’s important to note that phytic acid gets a bad wrap. It’s not necessarily bad for you and, in fact, it offers both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects that combat cancer cells and heart disease.  

All that said, some who have adverse reactions to phytic acid, without healthy levels of phytase gut bacteria to digest it. For these certain individuals, phytic acid can cause digestive issues, mineral deficiencies, and even chronic pain, which means they need to find ways to limit it. 

Fortunately, this is where sprouted nuts and seed butters come into play. 

 

The Benefits of Sprouted Nuts

Soaking and sprouting nuts do more than neutralize phytic acid, though. Let’s take a further look: 

Soaking nuts in water overnight or for a period can reduce the antinutrients, allowing you to absorb all their nutritional value. 

Sprouting nuts take soaking a step further, allowing the nuts to germinate. This germination process allows an increase in nutrients such as vitamins C, B, and carotene. Soaking and sprouting nuts also neutralize enzyme inhibitors that both improve digestion and deactivate aflatoxins, a dangerous cancer-causing toxin found in many crops. 

Ultimately, eating sprouted nuts and seed butters allow your tummy to digest a bit easier without complaints.  

 

Soaking and Sprouting Instructions

  1. Place nuts in a bowl and cover with filtered water. Add 1 tsp of sea salt per cup of nuts, if you like. 
  2. Cover the bowl loosely with a towel and allow it to sit at room temperature. 
  3. Plan to soak your nuts overnight for approximately 10 to 12 hours. 
  4. Next, drain your nut, seed, or legume, and rinse well.
  5. Enjoy your healthy sprouted treat with your meal right away, or… 
  6. Dehydrate at low temp for several hours, making them crispy, which can then be turned into nut butter, nut milk alternative, or put into a salad or homemade granola or trail mix. 

You can soak a variety of nuts, legumes, and seeds

  • Chickpeas
  • Almonds
  • Cashews
  • Hazelnuts
  • Peanuts

However, don’t sprout macadamia nuts, pine nuts, or red kidney beans, as these can become toxic. Those tiny, smaller seeds, such as flax, chia, and hemp seeds take a more involved process. Plus hemp seeds are already free of phytic acid.

 

Benefits of Seed Butters

Seed butters are better for us all around, made from sprouted nuts or no. Rich in antioxidants and a healthy source of fat and protein, these butters have many benefits. Let’s take a look at a few:

  • Sunflower Butter: Packed with Vitamin E and B, copper, and magnesium, this seed butter offers tons of nutritional benefits.  
  • Sesame butter — Also known as tahini, this butter offers nutrients such as copper, manganese, calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, selenium, and thiamin. Two tbsps provide 5 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber. 
  • Pumpkin seed butter — Tons of manganese, phosphorus, magnesium, copper, zinc, and iron. Two tbs provide 10 grams of protein and some fiber. 
  • Watermelon seed butter — This seed butter adds some iron to your diet, as well as Vitamin B, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, copper, and zinc. 

 

Try Sprouted Nuts and Seed Butters

Next time you head to the market, reach for sprouted nuts and seed butter to see how you like it. If you like, try germinating your own nuts and making your own nut and seed butter from scratch too. By doing so, you eliminate all the unnecessary sugars and ingredients that you don’t need and all the nutrients that you do!  

 


Resources:

Graf E, Empson KL, Eaton JW. Phytic acid. A natural antioxidant. J Biol Chem. 

1987 Aug 25;262(24):11647-50. PubMed PMID: 3040709.

Gupta RK, Gangoliya SS, Singh NK. Reduction of phytic acid and enhancement of bioavailable micronutrients in food grains. J Food Sci Technol. 2015;52(2):676‐684. doi:10.1007/s13197-013-0978-y

Schlemmer, U., Frølich, W., Prieto, R.M. and Grases, F. (2009), Phytate in foods and significance for humans: Food sources, intake, processing, bioavailability, protective role and analysis. Mol. Nutr. Food Res., 53: S330-S375. doi:10.1002/mnfr.200900099

Kong F, Singh RP. Digestion of Raw and Roasted Almonds in Simulated Gastric Environment. Food Biophys. 2009;4(4):365‐377. doi:10.1007/s11483-009-9135-6

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