Sprouted grains are on the rise for their increased nutritional benefits, but sprouted nuts are also now arising for a similar claim. Soaked, sprouted and then dusted with unique, exotic flavors like tamari, pizza-flavored and thai-lemon curry, these sprouted delicacies may be snack food millennials are looking for.
Roasted vs. Raw vs. Sprouted - What is the difference?
Many almonds are pasteurized at high temperatures and then roasted to obtain great flavor while killing any bacteria on the surface. Flavor and texture enhancement is a product of nut roasting. However, due to heat instability during the nut roasting process, up to 20% vitamin content may be lost, specifically vitamin C and B vitamins(1).
Anything raw is a whole food item that is uncooked and minimally processed to be consumed closer to it's natural, organic state of harvest in order to avoid nutrient losses from food processing. If heated, they are not to raise to temperatures over 118 degrees F.
Soaking and Sprouting:
The raw nut is soaked for 12 hours or more, drained, rinsed and then dried or dehydrated at a low temperature (under 115 degrees F) until all water is removed and they are ready for consumption. Many nuts do not actually grow sprouts, but they are still considered to be "living" after this process(2).
Why Soak and Sprout Nuts?
1. More nutrients
Soaking and sprouting nuts mimics the process of germination. At this point, there is a higher concentration of vitamins and minerals contained in the nut.
2. Deactivates nutritional inhibitor Phytic Acid
Trending as an anti-nutrient, phytic acid, the storage form of phosphorus present in nuts can be responsible for reduced nutrient absorption. Due to it’s chemical structure, phytic acid binds to nutrients, iron, calcium, potassium and magnesium(3), all common nutrient inadequacies in millennials. These nutrients are easy to consume from a variety of other food sources, but nuts fall into the gluten-free, whole food diet approach that many are adhering to(4).
3. Unique Texture
Dehydrating or drying nuts at low temperatures gives them a satisfying and unique crunch.
The Food Labeling Controversy
It is debated if it is worth it to sprout almonds because of the food safety law that legally requires California Almonds to be pasteurized through infrared heating and hot-air roasting prior to sale in order to kill the bacteria, salmonella. Considering 80% of the world’s supply of almonds are grown in California if these almonds are picked up in the store and labeled “Raw”, they have most likely already been pasteurized. While this technology is a great alternative to chemical and water usage, the labeling can be slightly deceiving(5).
Getting the Most Out of Nuts
Packed with vitamins, minerals and protein in for portable on-the-go munching, nuts are the icon of healthy snacking. If you could get increased nutrients and a unique crunch from the same food, then why wouldn't you? These nuts may cost more per pound, but swap roasted for sprouted and replenish the body's mineral stores.
1. USDA Table of Nutrient Retention Factors, Release 6 (2007). Access: https://www.ars.usda.gov/SP2UserFiles/Place/80400525/Data/retn/retn06.pdf
2. Joanna Wirkus. Soaking and Sprouting Beans, Nuts, Seeds, and Grains. Gluten Intolerance Group. Access: https://www.gluten.org/soaking-and-sprouting-beans-nuts-seeds-and-grains/
3. Lisbeth Bohn, Anne Meyer, Soren Rasmussen. Phytate: impact on environment and human nutrition. A challenge for molecular breeding. J Zhejiang Univ Sci B. 2008. 9(3): 165–191. doi: 10.1631/jzus.B0710640
4. Lana L. Woshnak. Strategic Nutrition For Millennials Part II.Fortitech Premixes. 2016.
5. USDA. Infrared Heating: Hot Idea for Keeping Almonds Safe To Eat. Agriculture Research. 2012.