Why You Should Soak Almonds & Pulses Before Eating

Almonds and Pulses are the powerhouses of energy and protein. They are also beneficial for the eyes, brain, and various organs. In addition, almonds can be consumed in diverse ways and can be added in a number of dishes. While some people like to have them without soaking, some go the traditional way. However, like our ancestors, several health experts believe that you must eat pulses and almonds only after soaking them.

Besides washing any impurity or chemical, soaked almonds and pulses offer various benefits. These benefits are an added advantage to the already beneficial almonds and pulses. For example, soaking pulses reduces polyphenols, removes gas-causing compounds, and decreases cooking time. At the same time, soaking almonds is a common practice that most of us follow as we soak almonds overnight to eat them in the morning. That is because soaked almonds are beneficial for the body and the mind. 

The upper layer of almonds also contains antinutrients like tannins and phytic acid, which might interfere with the other nutrients present in the almonds. Hence, once soaked one must discard the water as these antinutrients are dissolved in the water. Furthermore, soaking almonds make them soft and easier to chew and digest, especially for children and older people. On the other hand, soaking helps pulses cook faster and may help you avoid consuming any polish chemicals present over them, thus making them healthier than taking them unsoaked.

Nutritional Properties

Almonds

According to the USDA, 100 g of almonds contains:

  • Energy: 579 kcal
  • Carbohydrates: 21.6 g
  • Starch: 0.72 g
  • Sugars:  4.35 g
  • Dietary fibre: 12.5 g
  • Fat: 49.9 g
  •  Protein: 21.2 g
  • Calcium: 269 mg
  • Copper: 1.03 mg
  • Iron: 3.71 mg
  • Magnesium: 270 mg
  • Manganese: 2.18 mg
  • Phosphorus: 481 mg
  • Water: 4.41 g
  • Potassium: 733 mg

Pulses

People have been consuming pulses (beans, peas, and lentils) for several years. As a result, they are among the most extensively used foods globally. In addition, a wide variety of pulses grow globally, making them essential both economically and nutritionally. 

Research suggests that pulses provide protein and fibre. In addition, they are a significant source of vitamins and minerals, such as iron, zinc, folate, and magnesium. Furthermore, experts believe that consuming about 120 grams of beans or peas per day can enhance diet quality by increasing the intake of these nutrients. Finally, the phytochemicals, saponins, and tannins has antioxidant and anti-carcinogenic effects, thus indicating that pulses can have significant anti-cancer effects.

Potential Adverse Effects of Unsoaked Almonds and Pulses

Although almonds and pulses offer many benefits, eating them unsoaked has its fair share of adverse effects.

Almonds and lentils have a cover of phytic acid, essential for their growth. However, it can also cause digestive issues in humans. In addition, phytic acid can also delete some nutritional properties. While all plants contain phytic acid, legumes, nuts, and grains have the highest levels. Soaking also reduces tannins and polyphenols levels which helps increase the body’s ability to absorb minerals, including iron, zinc, and calcium. 

Soaked almonds are healthy because they are easily chewable and help with tannins removal. On the other hand, unsoaked almonds and pulses contain a complex chemical called “tannin”, which inhibits nutrient absorption. Therefore, foods rich in tannins are low in nutritional value. In addition, some studies report tannins associated with carcinogenic activity and decreased efficiency in converting the absorbed nutrients to new body substances.

Benefits of Soaking Almonds and Pulses Before Eating

Helps Improve Food Texture 

Soaking pulses before cooking improves their texture as well. Farmers often load pulses with heavy chemicals to give them shine and colour. Thus, soaking them helps to get rid of these chemicals. Also,  almonds are perfect for toddlers and old age people. So soaking helps them to be easily chewable.

Decreases Cooking Time

Soaking almonds and pulses help to cook them faster. That is because soaking for several hours increases the water content in the pulses, which speeds up chemical reactions, such as starch gelatinisation, during cooking. On the other hand, cooking pulses without soaking them takes more time than doing it after soaking them.

Removes Compounds that cause Bloating

Nuts and legumes, when consumed in larger quantities, often cause bloating. That is possibly due to ‘oligosaccharides’ in these food items. A human body does not contain the protein required to break down oligosaccharides. So when these unbroken compounds reach our large intestines, our naturally occurring bacteria use them. As a result, we experience abdominal pain and bloating. Soaking prevents the degree of discomfort caused due to this.

Increased mineral-absorption

Pulses have an abundance of proteins. Soaking them in water for a few hours helps absorb these nutrients into our bloodstream when eaten. Nutrients like zinc, iron, and calcium are essential needed by the body for immunity, metabolic processes, and bone health. Soaking of lentils facilitates the easy absorption of these nutrients in our bodies.

Easier to digest

Research shows that soaked pulses and almonds are easier to digest than raw ones. Since legumes and nuts contain indigestible fibres that are hard to digest, soaking them in water helps them leach out in the water. That leaves the fibre content in the pulses and almonds digestible. The soaking process also breaks down many complex starches making it easier to absorb and pass down the food we eat.

Improves Brain Health and Memory

Almonds are a reliable source of L carnitine that boost cell production in the brain. Studies show that soaked almonds also help improve memory. Since they are an excellent vitamin E and B6 source, almonds help absorb proteins in the brain cells. In addition, the presence of omega3 and omega6 fatty acids helps in the overall development of the brain. Soaked almonds enhance the absorption ability of these nutrients, thus improving brain function.

Reduces Hair-fall

Consumption of soaked almonds regularly helps improve hair health. Both pulses and almonds are excellent sources of protein and thus aid in reducing hair fall. In fact, intake of these helps strengthen the existing hair and stimulate the growth of fresh ones.

Helps with weight management

Consuming soaked almonds and legumes can play a significant role in improving the body’s metabolism. In addition, studies show that soaked nuts and lentils help in weight management while providing necessary nutrients at the same time. 

Soaked almonds and some soaked pulses act as a great low-calorie snack. It fills our appetite, fulfils all the nutrition requirements, and does not lead to obesity. In addition, soaked almonds mainly help lower the levels of bad cholesterol. These also help in reducing water weight and fat mass in our body.

Aids Natural Pregnancy

We know how good proteins are for pregnant women. Soaked almonds and pulses are no exception to the list. These nutritious ingredients are rich in folates. Research shows that these folates aid in natural labour and the child’s good health. Although raw ones contain folates, too, soaked ones have easier absorptivity.

How to Soak Almonds and Pulses?

It is pretty easy to soak pulses or almonds. You need to have a bowl of water and the ingredients.

  • Wash the almonds and pulses you wish to soak in abundant freshwater twice or thrice.
  • After washing and cleaning. Take a bowl with two cups of water in it
  • You could add in salt or leave it as per your choice; now, add the almonds/pulses to this bowl of water
  • After 7-8 hours, take these nuts/pulses out on a muslin cloth and rinse them with fresh water.

Soaked Almonds and Pulses: Healthy Recipes

Almond Sweet Potato and Pomegranate Chaat

Almond and sweet potatoes are the perfect combination of nuts and veggies and are ideal for satisfying your taste buds.

  • Serving: 2
  • Preparation time: 20 mins

Ingredients:

  • Almonds: 15 g (soaked and peeled)
  • Sweet potatoes: 30 g (boiled)
  • Pomegranate pearls: 30 g
  • White peas:  20 g
  • Onions – 20 g (chopped)
  • Tomatoes: 10 g (chopped)
  • Chat Masala: 2 tbsp
  • Green chillies: 3 g
  • Lemon juice: 3 ml
  • Fresh coriander: 3 g (chopped)
  • Mint chutney: 1 tbsp
  • Salt: To taste

Method:

  • Boil white pea until cooked properly to make white pea Ragda. 
  • Mix chopped onions, tomatoes, green chillies, fresh coriander, lemon juice, red chilli powder, salt and chaat masala. Adjust the seasoning if required. 
  • In a separate bowl, take almonds, pomegranate pearls and sweet potato.
  • Drizzle with chutney, lemon juice, chaat masala and chopped coriander. Toss it lightly.
  • Then, on a serving plate, mould the white pea Ragda and arrange the almond chaat on top of it.
  • Serve garnished with a coriander sprig.

Brazilian Black Bean Stew

This recipe is a combination of sweetness with a kick of salty flavour. 

  • Serving: 2
  • Preparation time: 30 mins

Ingredients:

  • Olive oil: 1 tbsp
  • Onion: 170 grams
  • Garlic cloves: 3 minced
  • Sweet Potato: 1 peeled and minced
  • Red bell pepper: 1 diced
  • Tomato: 1 diced
  • Jalapeño: 1 minced
  • Vegetable broth: 250 ml
  • Black beans: 3 cups soaked
  • Salt: to taste
  • Ripe mango: 1 peeled and diced
  • Cilantro: 100 g

Method:

  • Heat olive oil in a large pot. Add onions and let them cook.
  • Now add in garlic. Stir it until golden brown.
  • After garlic and onion soften, add sweet potatoes and bell peppers, tomatoes, chilli,  and broth. 
  • Bring the broth to boil. 
  • Decrease the heat, and cook for 15 mins or until the sweet potatoes are tender.
  • Stir in the beans and salt. 
  • Simmer gently, uncovered, for about 5 minutes. 
  • Stir in the mango and cook until heated for about 1 minute. 
  • Stir in the cilantro and serve hot 

Takeaway

Being one of the superfoods, the nutritional content of almonds and pulses are pretty unmatched. These high-protein food items work as a great snack as unsoaked and soaked, but soaking increases their nutritional absorptivity. Thus, you can conclude the nutritional importance of soaking pulses and almonds. It helps in cooking them better and increases their nutritional value. In addition, eating them raw versus eating them after soaking are two entirely different approaches, with the latter being healthier.

Moreover, soaked pulses get cooked faster and are deficient in harmful chemicals they might have. One cannot deny the nutritional importance of incorporating pulses and nuts like almonds in their meals. So, knowing how to eat them properly is extremely important. These tiny whole foods provide energy and have multi-nutrient benefits; soaking enhances these benefits.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. Why are soaked almonds better than raw?

A. Soaked almonds are better than raw ones because they are easier to digest, have a better texture, and are easily chewable. Soaked almonds do not cause bloating even if taken in more quantities. They are soft and taste better than raw ones. Soaked almonds also contain antioxidants that make them super healthy. Finally, they have a less bitter flavour than the raw ones. 

Q. When should almonds be soaked?

A. Almonds can be soaked any time of the day but preferably at night. And can be consumed in the morning. In addition, soaking a handful of almonds in half a cup of water for at least eight hours will last for a week.  

Q. Can I drink the water of soaked almonds?

A. Taking a sip or two of the water of soaked almonds is no harm to health, but since the almonds soaked in the water releases tannins and oils, consuming larger quantities would not be healthy. 

Q. What happens when you eat soaked almonds every day?

A. Eating a few almonds every day can help reduce LDL cholesterol. It helps in heart health by potentially reducing the risk of heart disease. Soaked almonds also help in improving brain health.  

Q. Is almond water good for the face?

A. Incorporating almonds into your daily diet will give your face a radiant glow. Almond water is good for the face, just like almonds. It also contains antioxidants that help to boost collagen production and firm the skin.

Q. Why do we soak almonds in water overnight?

A. We soak almonds overnight because it gives them ample time to prepare to be eaten in the morning. In addition, soaked almonds are consumed in the morning to boost energy without making the body feel heavy and the stomach too full. 

Q. How many almonds should be eaten daily?

A. As per the ‘Dietary Guidelines’, you can eat twenty-three almond nuts daily. A handful of almonds offers various nutrients such as protein, fibre, calcium, vitamin, riboflavin, and niacin. 

Q. Why are pulses soaked in water?

A. Soaking pulses in water have various health benefits. Soaked pulses reduce the time of cooking and increase their nutritional value. Pulses are rich in protein, and soaking them in water before cooking helps absorb these proteins in the body easily. In addition, soaking also enables the washing away of chemicals sprayed upon the pulses to give them- their shine and colour.   

Q. Which pulses are not soaked before cooking?

A. Lentils and split pulses need not be soaked before cooking, as they are soft and may crack. Although soaking would not decrease its nutritional properties, it is better not to soak them.  

Q. Can you soak lentils for 24 hours?

A. Among all the types of pulses, lentils are small and need not be soaked for such a long time. To ease indigestion, one can soak them for about four hours but not more than that, as they will start to crack and break, destroying their texture.

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