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Are 'activated' nuts a real thing?

16 May, 2018

You've probably heard people chatting about activated nuts, but what's it all about? Is there any nutritional truth in it, or is it just nuts (sorry, couldn't help ourselves)?

Raw nuts are a brilliant snack, loaded with healthy fats, protein, and important minerals like zinc, magnesium and calcium. But they also contain 'antinutrients' and enzyme inhibitors that prevent our bodies from absorbing them. To combat this, activated nuts have been soaked in water and salt, then dehydrated, to increase the nutrient value. The term 'activated' is pretty cool, because it emphasises the fact that raw nuts and seeds are living foods that just need a little push to make their incredible nutrition bioavailable. Let's take a closer look...


First up: antinutrients

'Antinutrients' are compounds found in foods that prevent our bodies absorbing the beneficial nutrients and minerals. Us humans and animals pull the nourishment we need from our surroundings. But as evolution would have it, many plants developed the capacity to fight back, by protecting themselves with nutrient-sapping phytochemicals. Can't really blame them – who wants to be eaten to the point of extinction? 

Phytic acid (aka phytates) is one of the most famous antinutrients on the block. It's found in its highest concentration in nuts, grains, beans, and legumes (that's why certain diets, like paleo, avoid these items). In nuts, it blocks the absorption of nutrient heavy-hitters like magnesium, zinc, calcium and iron, amongst others. Phytate also inhibits digestive enzymes pepsin and trypsin (which are involved in the breakdown of starch) and amylase (involved in the breakdown of protein). When those enzymes aren’t present in the right amounts, food doesn’t get processed properly, and so you miss out on key nutrients.


 Second to the spotlight: enzyme inhibitors 

Nuts, seeds, and many foods also contain enzyme inhibitors, which prevents the seed from sprouting prematurely. Mother Nature beautifully set it up so that these foods can survive for long periods of time while waiting for the perfect conditions to germinate – like warmth and moisture. While doing a great thing, these enzyme inhibitors don't work well for us humans, as they too prevent us absorbing much of the nutrients, and force our digestive system to work overtime in order to break it down. 


The final act: the good news

Soaking the nuts and seeds in a salty brine starts the germination process, unlocking all the natural nutrients and deactivating the enzyme inhibitors. It also washes away much of the phytic acid, so we can fully enjoy these nutrient-rich foods the way we should. 


Who we're loving...

We've recently discovered Boundless, who are changing the snacking game. Their activated nuts and seeds come in three wonderfully original flavours, and they're each ridiculously tasty. Which tickles your fancy: Cayenne & Rosemary, Tamari & Aleppo, or Orange, Ginger and Maple?

What we love about Boundless, is that they gentle bake their nuts and seeds after they've been activated, which gives them a delicious light crunch. In fact, they have their own unique F.A.B. process (flood, activate and bake).

Want to try them? You'll find them in May's Fitty box!


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