Health Matters

Soaking & Sprouting – Increases zinc availability for strong knee cartilage


Soaking and sprouting are two very simple methods that can help you to remove a considerable portion of the antinutrients in foods. Both can significantly improve a food’s nutrient value for humans. Most people however don’t know how to soak or sprout grains, beans, nuts & seeds, and don’t understand the benefits. So, these two simple food processing steps are left out of most companies’ food production processes and people’s at-home cooking procedures. And so the elements that reduce zinc’s availability remain in our foods, and zinc remains unavailable for us to use for strong knee cartilage.

Soaking grains, beans, nuts & seeds (all called just seeds from here on) ‘before cooking and consuming seems to be unanimously recommended by scientists (Fernandes 2010). Soaking simply means covering the seeds with room temperature water in a bowl, then letting them soak this way for about 12-18 hours (usually overnight). The process of soaking is simple but the benefits are significant. For example, soaking pigeon-peas (a dietary staple and major protein source for peoples in India/Asia, Africa, and Latin America), for 6-18 hours reduces lectins by 38-50%, tannins by 13-25% and protease inhibitors by 28-30%. Although some studies are contradictory, most scientists agree that discarding the soaking water before cooking best reduces antinutrient content. This does however result in the loss of some polyphenol antioxidants (Fernandes 2010). If beans and seeds are cooked after soaking, antinutrient contents are reduced even further. Studies on legumes have shown ‘soaking for 12h’ then ‘boiling for 80min’ was the most effective method for of removal of antinutrients and toxicants.

Sprouting is also a simple process, takes only slightly more of your time but is worth the effort from a health perspective. It starts off with 12-18 hours of soaking and so all the benefits of soaking occur with sprouting too. The soak water is then discarded and the seeds rinsed thoroughly with clean water. Residual water is spun off, then seeds are allowed to sit (dry and out of direct sunlight) in a bowl for a further 12 hours after which the seeds are again rinsed and spun-dry. Depending on the type of seed being sprouted this ‘sitting and rinsing’ process is repeated 2-4 times, during which time you should see the development of sprouts. Sprouting reduces seed phytate by 37-81% in beans and grains; significantly reduces digestive enzyme (trypsin) inhibitor content; lectins by 96%; considerably increases vitamin C, B2 and B3, as well as total available protein content; and dramatically increases protein digestibility.

Sprouting also degrades galacto-oligosaccharides in seeds. Galacto-oligosaccharides cannot be digested by humans and so pass undigested into the large intestine where they are broken down by our gut bacteria. Galacto-oligosaccharides are thus prebiotics with health benefits, but above 20g/day they are the ingredient in legumes that can cause intestinal gas, bloating, stomach cramps, and diarrhea.

Fermentation is an even better method for removing antinutrient factors from seeds. Antinutrient content of fermented seed flour is very low compared with germinated and roasted seed flour. Soaking/Sprouting and fermentation can be combined, together with cooking for an additive reduction in antinutrient content and an increase in nutrient availability of foods processed this way. We’ll look at fermentation next month.


Article Written + Submitted by:

Andreas Klein Nutritionist + Remedial Therapist from Beautiful Health + Wellness
P: 0418 166 269

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