If you’ve gone to your regular health food store or organic grocer recently, you may have noticed (and wondered about) new products containing “activated” nuts. Paleo cuisine guru and chef Pete Evans has recently raised their profile in Australia by saying he regularly activates cashews, almonds, and other nuts to increase their nutrient content.
Activated nuts are different from standard nuts in that they have been soaked in salted water, then dehydrated for a period of time. This starts the germination process — the so-called “activation”. This treatment changes the chemistry process inside the nut which breaks down the phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors.
Nuts are very good for us and contain protein, minerals and essential fats. However in the normal state these inhibitors — which ensure the nut doesn’t sprout prematurely — prevent the full benefit of the nutrients reaching the body through the gut. These inhibitors act as a binding agent, blocking the release of nutrients. The result is that important minerals such as iron, zinc, manganese, calcium, magnesium and manganese are unavailable in full form to our bodies.
Activating — soaking and dehydrating — breaks down these inhibitors. The nut moves from the dormant state to the growth phase and releases the available nutrients. The benefits for us are enormous. Not only can our bodies now access the full range of vitamins and minerals, there is also evidence that suggests activated nuts contain more nutrients.
How to activate nuts
For the best results start with organic, pesticide and sulphur-free nuts. Soak for a period of time (depending on the type) in spring or filtered water, then dehydrate in the oven on a low temperature for around 12-24 hours or in a dehydrator until crunchy. When thoroughly dried, the now activated nuts can be eaten or stored.
More detailed dehydration times and details for individual nuts may be found here.
As with so many foody practices that have come back into fashion, activating is a practice based on ancient wisdom. Our ancestors didn’t have sophisticated dehydrators and ovens of course, they just used the sun!
Activated nuts and seeds are now available individually or in a wide range of products including food bars and activated almond milk. But why not try it yourself? As always ensure that you follow the process carefully and don’t consume any nuts that appear mouldy. Let us know how you go, we’d love to hear from you!