What Are "Activated" Nuts & Seeds?
There's been a rather peculiar phenomenon sweeping the health food world in recent years. To an outsider, it might appear as if we've completely lost the plot. No, we aren't talking about the golden milk lattes, green smoothies, or bulletproof coffees. More amusingly, this trend requires one to "activate" their nuts and seeds. While it may sound like a pre-gym warm-up, like activating your glutes prior to some deadlifts, I can assure you this is not what we are talking about here. In fact, it's a trend worth noticing because there's some solid science backing it up.
What's Wrong With Nuts & Seeds In The First Place?
In truth, nothing is inherently wrong with them. Unless you have a severe allergy to nuts or seeds, or you rely on them as your main sustenance, you're probably fine. There are, however, many people who have autoimmune conditions or food intolerances where nuts and seeds can actually aggravate their digestive system. Nuts and seeds, including grains and legumes, contain phytic acid.
Foods high in phytic acid aren’t inherently bad. They may even have some anti-cancer potential and help to reduce kidney stones by inhibiting calcium crystallization. But as humans, we don't produce enough of the phytase enzyme to break down phytic acid effectively (unlike ruminant animals). In human bodies, phytic acid actually binds to certain nutrients like zinc, iron, and magnesium. This is why anyone eating a mostly grain, legumes, or nut-based diet, may find themselves with some nutrient deficiencies unless they properly prepare these foods. Let's dig deeper into what this means.
What Does It Mean To Activate One's Nuts & Seeds?
Now all jokes aside, this is a serious business according to nature. Unlike animals, plants can't simply run away or bare some wicked-looking teeth and growl to scare off impending danger. Plants are a lot stealthier than that. They have natural defense mechanisms (like phytic acid) to protect themselves, often allowing them to pass undigested through the digestive tracts of certain animals. Yes—they often get eaten, pooped out, spread far and wide, and then left to grow and flourish. It’s genius really! Phytic acid found in nuts and seeds is a plant's means for storing phosphorus. This nutrient is fundamental to helping the nut or seed initially grow.
Think of it from a purely biological point of view. Naturally, a little seed already contains everything it needs to grow. It just needs the right environmental circumstances to arise for it to get the go-ahead to sprout. Through this process, the little nut also lets down its guard and releases these nutrients.
We can imitate this scenario when preparing nuts and seeds to get the most nutritionally out of them and to reduce those anti-nutrients. If you consume large amounts of grains, legumes, nuts, or seeds, then you may want to consider employing some traditional techniques in food preparation including soaking, fermenting, sprouting, or using an acidic medium to "activate" these foods and make their nutrition available to your body.
How To Activate Nuts & Seeds
For nuts and seeds, we use the process of soaking in order to start the activation process. Basically, the nuts or seeds are soaked in water to reduce the phytic acid. Then, they're dried at a very low temperature, such as in a dehydrator, to crisp the nuts/seeds back up and keep them raw and full of enzymes. Get the full tutorial here — how to soak and dehydrate nuts, and similarly, how to activate seeds.
Want the benefits of activated nuts and seeds, but don't have the time to do it yourself? No worries! Wildly Organic does all the work for you! We have a wide range of activated nuts and seeds, including Brazil nuts, pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts, and pumpkin seeds.
Do you activate your nuts and seeds at home or would you prefer to buy them already activated? Let us know. We love to hear from our customers!