Soaking Grains, Seeds, Nuts And Legumes For Better Health And Digestion

Soaking Grains, Seeds, Nuts And Legumes For Better Health And Digestion

nutsSince writing my last article about the importance of soaking oats, I’ve since learned that it’s also important to soak all grains, seeds, legumes and nuts to make them easier to digest. So from now on I’m going to try and soak everything before I eat it. Nuts may be the biggest challenge because I like to snack on nuts throughout the day, and it may take a while before I remember to pre-soak them.

But if you think about it, dried nuts have a shelf life of around 10 years. So of course our body is going to have a little trouble digesting something as tough as that. Pre-soaking the nuts breaks down their natural preservative making them more easily digestible which means more nutrients for your body and less work for your liver, kidneys and colon.

If you want to look up more information about soaking seeds, nuts and grains, Daniel Reid is a fantastic resource. I just found out about him through a friend of mine today (while I was having the conversation about the importance of soaking nuts!), and will definitely be looking up his books in the future. He’s exceptionally knowledgeable on nutrition and Chinese Medicine. Here is the link to his website.

To soak or ferment?

The idea of “fermenting” foods is also a new concept to me. I learned about how fantastic fermented foods are for our body reading the Body Ecology Diet.

And it’s interesting how the topic of fermenting is cropping up more and more in my circle of healthy friends. Today I learned that while soaking oats is highly beneficial to the body, fermenting them is even better. Fermenting neutralizes the phytic acid which is important because if you consume the phytic acid in food, it can bind to the phosphorous in your body and prevent mineral absorption. Long story short – fermenting grains is just better for your health, plain and simple.

And fermenting oats is really easy. All you need to do is add a spoonful of kefir, yogurt, lemon juice or vinegar to your oats when you’re soaking them.

I started my new soaking and fermenting routine tonight in preparation for breakfast tomorrow morning. All I did was to mix equal ratios of water and oats, then one heaped tablespoon of yogurt (I’d use kefir but it’s not available where I live!). I then added a spoon of chia seeds for omega-3 because it’s good to soak seeds overnight too. Then a gave it all a big stir.

soaked and fermenting oatmeal

And for those of you who are worried about your cat or mice in the house eating your oats, you can leave it in the fridge overnight, or just cover it with a cat safe plate like I do.

soaked and fermenting oatmeal

25 comments… add one

  • Emily

    I soaked my almonds for 2 days and then sprinkled them with sea salt and apple cider vinigar…I put th eoven on the lowes temperature possible and my almonds went black….why? They didnt burn….did I soak them too long and they went mouldy as they started to dry out???? I have no idea….

  • Valinda

    I do not eat any fermented food since I found out I had an allergic reaction to them during a allergy test from the specialist. I was told many people have problems with fermented food, including alcohols and vinegars, and do not know it. It is not hives that always result from consuming these “thought of foods”, but aches, pains or general tiredness. Sometimes a mild to severe headache can result. Many people have side effects, but do not realize it.
    Just because food nutrition values can be increased by fermentation, it may not be a natural food for a human body. I think the point can generate some research; more than what is available at this time. Many foods have been said to be good for us and then we see them in everything from our food, to face and hair products. Later, it may be decided the so called facts were not so true. Just food for thought!

  • Tim

    Put the bowl in your oven overnight. Nothing is going to get in there.

  • Amy

    Hi Fran,

    I thought this was fantastic aticle :)

    Seeing as though cacao contains phytic acid, would it not be more beneficial to consume it in fermented/roasted form rather than completely raw? I used to LOVE eating raw cacao powder every day (the rest of my diet was really good too – organic fruit, veg and seafood), but developed magnesium and zinc deficiency and digestive problems. Since cutting it out, my health has actually improved significantly.

    Here’s a snippet I found on the Weston A. Price Foundation website:
    “[Seeds] are extremely high in phytic acid and require thorough processing to remove it. Some may be removed by soaking and roasting. It is best to avoid consuming or snacking on raw seeds. By the way, cacao is a seed.”

    Another page I found:


  • Christina

    Fran, you’re right about soaking your grains, most grains, in general terms. However… when it comes to soaking OATS, it’s a whole different story!

    Oats, and a few other grains, still retain about 75% of their original phytic acid content, even after soaking 12 hours. That’s where ‘complementary’ soaking comes in.

    Following is an excerpt from a chapter of this book “Rebuild from Depression” that the author Amanda Rose has kindly made available on her website here:
    In a 1950 study, Mellanby reported an experiment reducing the phytic acid content of various grains, which I present in the following figure. Note that with rye and wheat it takes only two hours to reduce the phytate content under optimum conditions. With oats and corn, soaking for twelve hours is insufficient—the phytic acid levels are still about 75 percent of their original levels.

    There is a fairly simple solution when making oatmeal: use about 10 percent fresh ground wheat and follow the instructions I provided earlier on soaking.
    You can read more detailed instruction at the aforementioned link.

    Hope this helps you enjoy the benefits of oats even more. Personally, I’m a Quinoa fan ;-). Mostly I combine some or all 4 “Body Ecology Diet” approved grains for my grain dishes (note that oats are not on that list…). I make a big batch at once, then freeze into individual servings. If you undercook the grains a little, they won’t get mushy when you carefully reheat the frozen serving with a small amount of water just before eating; that’s when I also add my chia seeds, goji berries, etc.

    To your Health,
    Certified Body Ecologist

  • Jen- It’s best to dry them out first so they don’t go mouldy. If you don’t have a dehydrator you can dry them out in the oven on the lowest temperature. I’ve never tried it but i’m guessing it will only take an hour or so. My soaked buckweat takes about 2 hours.

    Helen – Absolutely! soak then toast :) Super healthy.

  • Helen Lagerstedt

    Hi Fran,
    I heard about soaking oats a wee while ago, and am in the transitional stage of remembering to do it! My Mum asked me why I did it and I couldn’t remember, stumbling across your post I can now pass on the info. However, Mum likes to toast her oats… do you know if toasting the oats does similar things to soaking? alternativley could she soak then toast?

    Helen :)

  • Jen


    Thanks for the article. Hopefully, this post is not too old to ask some questions…

    Is it possible to store the soaked grains, legumes, or nuts in, say, an airtight mason jar in the refrigerator, for a period before cooking?



  • Hey Veronica, it’s preferable to drain them and wash a little.

  • Veronica

    after soaking either beans, oats, or quinoa do I drain them clean from the night before, or do I proceed to finish cooking them with the fermented water. Is the fermented water gasy-acid base?

  • Ray- preferably, yes

  • ray

    Do I need to pour off the water after soaking the nuts and grain or can I drink it , Regards Ray

  • Kyle- hard shells off.

    Ang- No, they taste better! Especially if you eat activated nuts (presoaked, fermented and dried) they have a richer flavor.

    Quick oats are more processed so not as good as normal oats. Oat groats are actually the best.

  • Ang

    Do the nuts taste worse after soaking?
    I give my daughter nuts and i can tell you as the nappy changer that they are not at all digested!!
    Also, is there any problems with having quick oats over normal oats? They just look like they are crushed up?

  • Kyle

    This is interesting, I just recently found out I love to snack on nuts too.

    I would have thought that the way nature gave them to us would be the right way to eat them.

    Do you soak them with the shells on? I hope that’s not a really stupid question.

  • Hi Chase, soaking definitely makes the nuts more digestible which means better assimilation into the body and therefore more nutrients for you.

  • Chase

    I eat walnuts almost on a daily basis and was wondering, if I soaked them overnight, would it still be as rich of omega-3 after soaking as compared to not soaking?

  • I found a fabulous article on soaking nuts for those of you who are interested. If you have a dehydrator it helps ..more and more I’m wanting one! Pity they’re so expensive. This article is definitely worth a read –

    And thanks Marta for all the info!! Unfortunately there is NOWHERE in this part of Australia (as in the 3rd largest city in the country) where you can buy refrigerated nuts. I’m missing more and more of North America :( We’re a little bit slow down here.

  • Hi, Fran !

    I soak almost all of my nuts except cashew and pine nuts. Some people don’t soak brazil nuts.
    If the nut has a skin, it means it has enzyme inhibitors, so you have to get rid of them by soaking; that is why I don’t soak pine nuts and cashews and they are very soft to start with. BTW – be careful with cashews from stores, they are usually processed.

    Usually I soak them overnight —> just cover them with water and they are ready to eat in the morning. If you leave them longer than ..8 h.., 10 h..the water will get ‘mushy’, the nut as well. Some people reserve the water, but I don’t-i just soaked some toxins it it, right ? ;-)
    I also always buy nuts at stores where they carry them in the fridge.

    I’ll give you an example : Last time we had an amazing raw food seminar here with even more amazing Dr. T. The girl who was preparing raw dishes was amazing as well, main chef from Ecopolitan rest. ( I have a post about this on my blog ). After we have eaten all the meals she prepared, Dr. T asked us if we have noticed anything… No one had any idea what is he talking about. Well, it turned out that one of the nuts (pine ) were rancid, but nobody tasted it in a dish.We than decided to smell the jar and only half of us agreed on rancidity. The nuts were NOT stored in fridge at the store.

    My point is, that once you are pretty clean, you will notice the rancidity. Otherwise it is possible that you’ll miss it and introduce toxic matter into your cells.
    Make sure then that nuts come from conscious place with fridge storage.
    That is also the reason why I make my own butters (almond etc) and I don’t buy it at the store. The nut/seed was exposed to light/oxygen/heat and is already rancid –> free radicals—> aging!

    Hope it helps!

    p.s. I just posted a KALE CHIPS RECIPE !

  • Sheniqua- I add a small amount of extra water and a dozen or so goji berries, then cook it on a low heat until it’s all mushy, just how I like it.

  • sheniqua

    hi fran!

    i have a question. how do you cook your oats + chia seeds after you have soaked them overnight? do you boil them like usual for 5 – 10 minutes to make oatmeal?


  • Marta- Do you know much about soaking of nuts? I have so many questions that I need to find the answers for! Like is it okay if you they soak for a few days before you get around to eating them or should you remove them from the water after 24 hours, how long before they start to rot after soaking, and do ALL types of nuts need soaking?

  • Hi John, yep, eat plenty of fresh vegetables! It also doesn’t hurt to take a good quality multi-vitamin.

  • …and always store your nuts in a fridge ;-)

    Hi, Fran! We are coming closer to each other ;-)))

  • john

    Fran what an interesting article, Ive just had braces put on and im not allowed to eat acidic foods or hard foods this is hard because now i cant eat oranges or lemons or limes or apples are there alternatives to get the right vitamins in my body without making my teeth really acidic . im also not allowed to eat sugar which is good because sugar is bad for acne and your health!

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