If you search for almond recipes online, you may have seen that some recipes call for soaked almonds in place of raw or roasted ones. Soaking almonds overnight softens the hard shell and makes it easier to cook or bake with them.
There is belief that consuming soaked almonds has additional health benefits, though there is very little scientific research to back this up. The claims are that soaking your almonds for several hours or overnight makes them easier to digest and reduces levels of antinutrients.
There is consumer belief that soaked almonds are better for your digestion and contain fewer antinutrients. Other reasons to soak almonds include making almond milk, nut butter and nondairy cheese.
Almond Nutrition and Benefits
Regardless of how you eat them, almonds are full of nutrients like healthy fats, fiber, vitamins and minerals. They are also associated with many health benefits.
According to the USDA, one 30-gram serving of almonds contains the following nutrients:
- 181 calories
- 6 grams of protein
- 15 grams of fat
- 6 grams of carbohydrates
- 3.9 grams of fiber
- 11 percent daily value (DV) of calcium
- 7 percent DV of iron
In addition to being a popular source of fatty acids, almonds can be a source of calcium for people who do not consume dairy products. You can also reap the nutritional benefits of almonds by consuming almond butter.
Consuming almonds can also encourage healthy weight loss when used to replace snacks consisting of refined carbs. In a January 2015 study published by the Journal of the American Heart Association, researchers found that snacking on almonds instead of baked goods can reduce abdominal fat as well as cholesterol levels.
Why People Eat Soaked Almonds
People soak almonds for a variety of reasons, including health reasons and for cooking or baking. In relation to health, soaking your almonds may reduce the risk of cyanide poisoning from bitter almonds. However, it is important to know that bitter almonds are not sold in grocery stores in the U.S.
Since almonds have a tough shell and contain lots of fiber, soaking them is also believed to help break down the fiber and make it easier to digest. However, a December 2018 study published in the European Journal of Nutrition found that soaking almonds does not improve gastrointestinal tolerance.
Another reason people soak their almonds is due to the belief that this will reduce antinutrient levels. However, the research to support this is very limited. In a January 2019 study published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, soaking almonds for 24 hours only reduced phytic acid levels by less than 5 percent.
Despite the science pointing to raw almonds and soaked almonds being equal, your blender may prefer soaked almonds since they are easier to process. This is helpful to know if you plan on making your own homemade almond milk. Soaked almonds can also be used in a variety of beverages and foods, such as homemade almond butter, almond-based cheese, raw desserts and protein balls.
Read more: 9 Healthy Nuts That May Help You Live Longer
How to Soak Almonds
Soaking almonds is simple and requires just two ingredients: almonds and water. However, it does require a lot of time. If you need soaked almonds, remember to submerge them in water the night before or several hours in advance. To make soaked almonds at home, follow our recipe for Healthy Almond Milk:
- Soak 1/2 cup of almonds in water for up to eight hours.
- Place in the refrigerator if soaking overnight.
- Drain the soaked almonds in a strainer or colander.
- Rinse thoroughly.
- Optional: Make almond milk with the soaked almonds by adding water, vanilla extract, cinnamon and sweetener. Combine the ingredients and blend until smooth. Use a milk bag to strain the almond milk from the pulp.
- USDA FoodData Central: "Almonds"
- Journal of the American Heart Association: "Effects of Daily Almond Consumption on Cardiometabolic Risk and Abdominal Adiposity in Healthy Adults With Elevated LDL‐Cholesterol: A Randomized Controlled Tria"”
- Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture: "Determination of D-myo-inositol Phosphates in 'Activated' Raw Almonds Using Anion-Exchange Chromatography Coupled With Tandem Mass Spectrometry"
- European Journal of Nutrition: "The Effects of 'Activating' Almonds on Consumer Acceptance and Gastrointestinal Tolerance"