What’s the difference between raw and activated almonds?
Raw almonds are used to produce almond butter, flour, milk, oil, or paste (marzipan). These nuts have an incredible nutrient profile.
One ounce (28 g) of raw almonds has:
- Fiber (3.5 g)
- Protein (6 g)
- Fat (14 g, 9 of which are monounsaturated)
- Vitamin E (37 percent of the Recommended Daily Intake [RDI])
- Manganese (32 percent of the RDI)
- Magnesium (20 percent of the RDI)
Raw almonds also contain copper, phosphorus, and vitamin B2 (riboflavin). A small handful of raw almonds only has 161 calories and 2.5 g of digestible carbohydrates. However, the human body is unable to use 10 to 15 percent of the calories in almonds because some of the fat is inaccessible to digestive enzymes.
Almonds are also full of phytic acid. This substance binds certain minerals and prevents them from being absorbed when you eat almonds. Phytic acid is usually considered a healthy antioxidant, but it also slightly reduces the amount of calcium, iron, and zinc that you get from almonds.
This is where activated almonds come in. Activated almonds are soaked and dehydrated almonds. As almonds develop, they store energy in the form of phytic acid, a phytochemical.
The enzyme inhibitor remains in the nut after harvesting and it stops the sprouting process. Soaking the almonds allows the germination process to begin.
Germination helps break down stored oils, proteins, and starches in almonds into energy. Once almonds start to germinate, dehydrating them helps retain their crispiness and taste. (Related: Dramatically improve your health by eating almonds daily.)
The health benefits of activated almonds
You can eat almonds raw, but activating the nuts offers the following benefits.
- Activating almonds stimulates the sprouting and germination process. This is necessary because the phosphorus stored in plants – in the form of phytic acid – blocks enzyme inhibitors and reduces phytic acid levels.
- Phytic acid binds to minerals in the digestive tract such as calcium, chromium, iron, magnesium, manganese, and zinc. If you eat foods that have phytic acid, they can interfere with the body’s absorption of such minerals. This can cause mineral deficiencies.
- Humans don’t produce the enzyme phytase which breaks up phytates. To effectively reduce phytic acid in almonds, you need to soak, sprout, or ferment the nuts.
- Activated almonds can prevent diabetes, heart disease, and high cholesterol. Eating activated almonds can also help you manage your weight and appetite.
- Consuming raw almonds can affect how your body digests and absorbs the minerals in the nuts. If eating raw almonds gives you indigestion, activate the nuts so your digestive system can break them down better.
Recipe for activated almonds
You can buy a pack of activated almonds from the store, but it’s cheaper to make them at home. Follow the recipe below for activated almonds.
- Activating agent (use either kombucha, live whey, milk kefir, sauerkraut juice, unpasteurized apple cider vinegar with “mother,” or water kefir)
- Place the raw almonds in a bowl, then rinse them several times. Washing removes the tannins in almond skin, which interferes with the absorption of the minerals in the nuts.
- Cover the almonds with water, then add an activating agent.
- Add salt to the mixture to activate the enzymes that will then help deactivate the enzyme inhibitors.
- Let the almonds soak for seven to 24 hours.
- After the almonds are done soaking, dry them. Do this by dehydrating the almonds in low heat using a dehydrator or in the oven. If you use an oven, set it to the lowest temperature. Take note that dehydrating will take about 12 to 24 hours if you set the oven’s temperature between 105-150 F. A dehydrator can take about five to six hours.
- Once you’re done dehydrating, the almonds should be dry and crispy.
It is perfectly fine to consume raw almonds. Just make sure you don’t overeat almonds because they contain calories. If you have spare time, you can boost the nutrients of almonds by activating them before eating them.