Dear Leah Renee,
Why are sprouted almonds any better than raw or roasted? ~Liisa, CA
Almonds are tasty, versatile, and provide many nutritional benefits. They can be enjoyed many ways, not all of which are nutritious depending on if they’re salted or unsalted, roasted, sprouted, candied, or spiced. A friend of mine makes a bowl of “spiced” nuts for parties soaked in bacon fat and roasted. I’m not going to lie—they’re UNREAL (and I don’t even eat bacon, nor did I know at the time that’s how they were made), but this is certainly not the nutritional way to consume them!
In general, here are some reasons why almonds are superstars:
- Promotes heart health (lots of Vitamin E)
- Promotes a healthy weight
- Rich in bone-building minerals like magnesium, manganese & copper
- Healthy amino acid content
- High in B2 (Riboflavin) for energy
- Good source of fiber
Roasting almonds will add flavor, some disadvantages are added oils, high in sodium (if salted), high in additional fats, sugars, and are more difficult to digest. When almonds are processed, we lose much of their nutritional value. A more beneficial method is dry roasting, which excludes the use of any oil which in turn would leave out the salt too, and contain less fat.
Raw almonds are not (usually) actually raw. They’re not coming straight from the tree and into your local supermarket. Most almonds from California (which consist of about 80% of our supply) are pasteurized to kill off any potentially harmful bacteria that may have come in contact with them (such as salmonella). But, because they’re not roasted, they can still be labeled as ‘raw’ even after pasteurization. Frustrating!!!
Soaking almonds even for just a few short hours will allow the phytic acid (which inhibits your body’s ability to fully assimilate all the wonderful nutrients it contains—see more below) to start breaking down. Your body will get to use a greater amount of the nutrients from soaked nuts than regular raw nuts. You can keep them in a container of water in the fridge.
Sprouted almonds are the best, most nutritional way to enjoy them. Almonds naturally contain something called phytic acid. Phytic acid (or phytate) plays a role in mineral absorption—the role of the bad guy. It has the ability to bind to the minerals which means less benefit to us. It acts as an enzyme inhibitor and the best ways to get rid of that are soaking or sprouting. Sprouting almonds is even better, nutritionally, than soaking. Sprouting makes the lipase, the enzyme which helps break down body fat, available for digestion. We want to keep the enzymes intact so we can reap all the health advantages.
To make sprouted almonds, soak them (raw) for a few hours in filtered water, drain, and then transfer them to either a food dehydrator or in the oven at no more than 118 degrees (F) until they’re completely dry (at least 8 hours). If they’re not completely dry they can go rancid after only a couple days. Sprouted almonds are soooo much tastier than the traditional raw almonds. I promise you’ll notice the difference!
If you would like to purchase almonds already sprouted (and organic whenever possible!), you can find them in the bulk section at Whole Foods and other select health markets. They’re also available online here and here. If you do a search online you may find more depending on your area/country!
One of my favorite recipes are Almond Date Balls! Here’s the recipe (adapted from The World’s Healthiest Foods):
- 1 cup raw almonds (sprouted or soaked first)
- 1/2 cup pitted dates
- 1 TB water
- 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp almond extract
- 1/8 tsp sea salt
- optional: coconut flakes
1. Using a food processor, Vitamix, or other high speed blender, process almonds until they’re in small pieces. Remove half of them and set aside.
2. Add dates to remaining almonds and process until the mixture turns into a fine meal.
3. Add remaining ingredients and process until the mixture starts sticking together. You’ll probably need to use a rubber spatula and scrape the bowl.
4. By hand, mix date mixture with the reserved almond pieces.
5. Form into 1-inch balls from the dough. Store in the fridge for up to a week! Enjoy!