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Although a raw almond is a very healthy nut, the brown coating that covers an almond contains substances that make this nut difficult to digest. Soaking almonds, however, removes these substances. Almonds also become much softer after they are soaked in water, which make them easier to chew and digest. It is usually advised to soak almonds in water for at least several hours, but no more than a few days.
Almonds are often considered one of the healthiest nuts a person can eat. They are an excellent source of fiber and omega-3 fatty acids, for example. They also are rich in essential nutrients, such as vitamin E and calcium.
Unfortunately, the brown skin surrounding an almond also contains difficult-to-digest substances. Phytic acid is one of the substances that can be found in these skins. The presence of this acid makes it very difficult for the digestive tract to absorb certain important nutrients. Soaking almonds helps remove much of this substance.
Almond skins also contain an enzyme inhibitor that protects the delicate seed inside the skin. This is also mostly removed by soaking almonds. In the digestion system, however, it inhibits certain enzymes needed for digesting almonds.
Since soaking almonds removes the substances that prohibit germination, it also prepares the nut for germination. This causes the almonds to produce more nutrients like vitamins C. Vitamin C is an essential nutrient for humans, and among other things, it helps build strong bones.
Raw almonds are originally a very hard nut, and they can be difficult to chew. Not chewing these nuts thoroughly can leave large pieces, which makes it much harder for the stomach and intestines to digest them. Soaking almonds, however, softens them. Softer almonds are not only much easier to chew, but they are also much easier to digest.
Before soaking almonds, they should first be rinsed very well in cool water. They can then be soaked in water or milk for several hours. Most experts recommend soaking them for at least six to eight hours, and many individuals prefer to soak them before bed and eat them for breakfast. Almonds should never be allowed to soak for more than three days, however, since they will usually begin to ferment at this point. Also, instead of discarding the soaking water, some individuals prefer to drink it for added health benefits.
Believe it or not, there are those that maintain who fermenting almonds is actually a good thing to do. The process, they claim, actually enhances the health benefits of almonds (and a lot of other nuts, to boot).