Activated Nuts vs Raw Nuts vs Roasted – Which nut is healthiest?

Hi everyone,

Given my love for pistachios, and my slight peanut butter obsession since moving to the States a couple of years ago (yes, I have become someone who eats it directly off the spoon), I thought I would go into a little more detail on the whole “activated” nuts topic, which seems to have taken the healthy foodie world by storm over the past year.

Amongst this arising health conscious community we live in, it is hard not to notice the latest “improvements” in our already well-known healthy foods, with nuts clearly not missing out.

Nuts are definitely one of those food items that have been around for quite some time, although it appears that these jam packed nutritional power houses are themselves even getting “enhanced” these days!

We already know that nuts are a healthy quick snack that can be grabbed on the go, providing essential nutrients in a compact form; Raw nuts are already naturally full of protein, fibre, healthy fats and many vitamins and minerals. Activated nuts however have recently surfaced the healthy eating world, an increasingly popular food item appearing in social media, health food stores, and promoted by celebrities, some dietitians, nutritionists, and “foodies” in general.

So what actually are they?

Activated nuts have been soaked in filtered water for a period of 12-hours and dehydrated at low heat (40 degrees) for 24-hours. Soaking or sprouting nuts is believed to disable enzyme inhibitors and “awaken” beneficial enzymes within the nut to improve digestibility along with enhancing nutritional value.
activated almonds nutrition information activated almonds nutrition information

Raw nuts contain phytic acid, the main storage component of phosphorus in plants; it is found in nuts, grains, legumes and cereals. Phytic acid or phytate, binds to minerals such as zinc, iron, calcium, potassium and magnesium forming insoluble salts. This consequently impacts on digestion and absorption along with negatively impacting on protein and fat metabolism- which can be potentially problematic for vegetarians and vegans in particular. Phosphorus in this state needs the digestive enzyme phytase in order to be inactivated, an enzyme low in humans and some animals.

activated pistachios Soaking has been seen to be a practical method in reducing phytic acid in maize and soybeans, as phytic acid is water-soluble (dissolves in water) and can therefore be “washed away”. Activating nuts is believed to activate the enzyme phytase within. It then breaks down phytic acid resulting in improvements of mineral availability and absorption.

A nutritional research study noted that iron and zinc absorption amongst infants fed “activated” soy formula compared with regular formula was significantly INCREASED (unlikely due to chance). Iron absorption increased from 3.9% to 8.7% and zinc absorption increased from 16.7% to 22.5% (wow!). So there could be something to this, although as you can see, it doesn’t change anything from 0 to 100% absorption, which I often feel is the implied message in the marketing of some of these activated products.
activated walnuts

 

 

almond nutrition table

 

The above table shows different almond types to choose from; From the table shown, the almond varieties have similar nutrient profiles despite different processing methods. Raw, dry roasted, and oil roasted almonds all provide rich sources of protein, fibre, healthy fats, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium.

As mentioned before, nuts contain phytate or phytic acid that has shown many undesirable effects on the human body. However, phytate is in fact a phytochemical with anticancer and antioxidant properties!! (You might be thinking, “How could it possibly be harmful AND good for you?”).

Studies have found that phytate reduces free radicals by acting as an antioxidant, stabilizes blood glucose levels whilst allowing an individual to feel fuller for longer, regulates insulin activity, protects against heart diseases, and helps prevent kidney stones!

Main point: Phytic acid has many positive effects on the human body including disease prevention and in saying so, eating a handful of regular nuts will not harm your body in dramatic ways. You will still benefit from eating natural inactivated nuts!
organic activated macadamia nuts activated organic nuts macadamiaActivated nuts can be dear to the pocket but raw nuts can be soaked at home should you want to try it yourself!


You will need:
2 cups of your preferred raw nuts
water
sea salt or seasonings (optional)

  1. Soak hard nuts in water for 12-hours (e.g. almonds or hazelnuts). 4-6 hours will be enough for soft nuts (e.g. cashews or pistachios).
  2. Rinse nuts in running water and combine with seasonings if you wish.
  3. Roast the nuts on low heat (on the lowest temperature your oven will allow) for 6-24 hours. Nuts are ready when they feel dry (Have a taste test!)

Whether you choose raw, dry roasted, oil roasted, or activated nuts, are all nutritionally beneficial and could be included in your everyday diet!

I hope you found this article informative and useful,

For further reading please feel free to look up the references provided below,

For now,

TD x

 

References

http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/nut-and-seed-products/3085/2

http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/nut-and-seed-products/3087/2

http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/nut-and-seed-products/3088/2

Activated almonds nutrient data http://2die4livefoods.com.au/store/products-shop-online/10-activated-organic-almonds-dairy-free.html

Activated pistachios and activated walnut images from www.2die4livefoods.com.au

http://www.australianalmonds.com.au

Kumar V, Sinha AK, Makar HPS, Becker K (2010). Dietary roles of phytate and phytase in human nutrition: a review. Food Chemistry, 120(4): 945-959.

Gibson, Rosalind S., et al. “A review of phytate, iron, zinc, and calcium concentrations in plant-based complementary foods used in low-income countries and implications for bioavailability.” Food & Nutrition Bulletin31.Supplement 2 (2010): 134-146.

 

Gibson, R. S., Yeudall, F., Drost, N., Mtitimuni, B., & Cullinan, T. (1998). Dietary interventions to prevent zinc deficiency. The American journal of clinical nutrition68(2), 484S-487S.

Graf E and Eton JW (1990). Antioxidant functions of phytic acid. Free Radical Biol Med, 8(1):61-69.

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